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Washington, D.C., APA, 2000, 738 pp., $74.95 (paper).
Surveys conducted by APA suggest that psychiatrists in clinical practice spend most of their time diagnosing and treating patients with anxiety and mood disorders, psychosis, dementia, and chemical dependence. These broad groups encompass a lot of patients and represent multiple diagnostic strategies, treatment modalities, and nuances of the doctor-patient relationship.
Research on psychiatric diagnoses will continue to sharpen our focus on the patient’s symptoms and suffering. Research on psychiatric treatments will continue to provide excellence in patient management. Total patient care will be improved only if we can determine what is known today about the best ways to help our patients. This is the focus of the guidelines contained in this new edition of the American Psychiatric Association Practice Guidelines for the Treatment of Psychiatric Disorders, required reading for every mental health clinician.
Decisions made at the beginning of the Practice Guidelines project permitted APA to present guidelines covering the disorders that are most common, most often lead to disability, are most lethal, and are most amenable to treatment.
A unique characteristic of the Practice Guidelines series is the presentation, under the rubric of psychiatric management, of a broad array of interventions and activities that should be instituted by psychiatrists for all patients, regardless of the specific treatment modalities selected, and continued throughout all phases of treatment. Psychiatric management includes a complete diagnostic evaluation, consideration of the safety of the patient and others, evaluation of impairment, determination of treatment setting, establishment and maintenance of a therapeutic alliance, and monitoring all these variables in an ongoing fashion throughout treatment.
At a time when psychiatry is challenged by those who would focus on cost containment, psychiatrists can use these guidelines to prove that quality can be provided at a cost that enhances the value of treatment for the patients and all those around them. Knowledge of the guidelines is paramount to APA’s effort to maintain the clinical excellence that has characterized the best strategies in timely, appropriate, and effective psychiatric care.
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