BACKGROUND: Diagnostic issues are at the heart of medicine. Although the existing systems to classify mental disorders have been of tremendous value to Psychiatry, there is growing pressure to reform psychiatric diagnosis. In other areas in medicine staging and profiling has been a fruitful strategy to model the diagnosis of complex disorders. AIM: To examine whether staging and profiling may be a fruitful model for the diagnosis of psychiatric disorders. METHOD: Narrative review of the literature concerning staging and profiling in psychiatry. RESULTS: Clinical staging and profiling may help to reform our current static, descriptive and largely categorical classification of mental disorders and arrive at a diagnostic system that is developmental, that can accommodate better the continuous nature of most mental health problems and that is sensitive to etiologic and prognostic risk factors. CONCLUSION: Looking beyond the forthcoming revisions of DSM and ICD, clinical staging and profiling provide the necessary framework for a more fundamental reform of psychiatric diagnosis.

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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam