News Release

PHILADELPHIA – Penn Medicine has been selected as one of seven adult field trial sites to test proposed diagnostic criteria for the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Used by health professionals around the world, DSM is the manual that provides descriptions, symptoms and other criteria for diagnosing mental disorders. Penn Medicine is participating in field trials to help assess the practical use of proposed DSM-5 criteria in real-world clinical settings.

“We are honored to be selected as one of the field trial sites,” said Mahendra T. Bhati, MD, assistant professor of Clinical Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, who will lead the field trials at Penn Medicine. According to the APA, the selection process was very competitive; only 11 organizations were chosen from the 65 that submitted proposals to be considered for a field trial site.

Clinicians participating in the field trials will evaluate new and existing patients at different stages of treatment using the proposed DSM-5 diagnostic criteria and measures. Penn Medicine clinicians will focus particularly on proposed updates related to general anxiety disorder, OCD and hoarding, anxious depression, and binge eating disorders, along with general diagnostic criteria for personality disorders.

The field trial design will address several important aspects of the proposed diagnostic criteria, including:

  • Feasibility: are the proposed criteria easy for clinicians to understand and to use?
  • Clinical Utility: do the proposed criteria do a good job in describing patients’ psychiatric problems and help clinicians make decisions about treatment plans?
  • Reliability: are the same conclusions reached consistently when the criteria are used by different clinicians?
  • Validity: how accurately do the diagnostic criteria reflect the mental disorders they are designed to describe?

In addition, the field trials will test new tools that help clinicians evaluate the severity of symptoms and measure whether patients are improving over time, such as “cross-cutting dimensional assessments,” to measure symptoms that occur across a wide range of diagnoses (i.e. sleep problems).

“Psychiatrists at Penn Medicine demonstrate the highest level of expertise in mental health research and clinical care,” said David Kupfer, MD, chair of the DSM-5 Task Force. “This field trial research is a part of a critical phase in development of DSM-5 and will give us the information we need to better understand how the proposed revisions affect clinicians’ practices and, most importantly, patient care.”

The field trials follow a public comment period in which more than 8,000 written comments on the draft diagnostic criteria were submitted to the DSM-5 web site by clinicians, researchers and family and patient advocates. Submitted comments were reviewed by DSM-5 Work Groups and resulted in further refinement of the criteria. The field trial results will help improve the criteria and provide invaluable information for DSM-5, to be released in May 2013.

More information on all of the participating field trial sites and the specific disorders being tested is available on


Penn Medicine is one of the world's leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $5.3 billion enterprise.

The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top five medical schools in the United States for the past 18 years, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $373 million awarded in the 2015 fiscal year.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System's patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center -- which are recognized as one of the nation's top "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S. News & World Report -- Chester County Hospital; Lancaster General Health; Penn Wissahickon Hospice; and Pennsylvania Hospital -- the nation's first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional affiliated inpatient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region include Chestnut Hill Hospital and Good Shepherd Penn Partners, a partnership between Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network and Penn Medicine.

Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2015, Penn Medicine provided $253.3 million to benefit our community.

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