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Book Forum: Clinical Practice   |    
American Psychiatric Association Practice Guidelines for the Treatment of Psychiatric Disorders Compendium 2002
ANDREI PIKALOV, M.D., Ph.D.
Am J Psychiatry 2003;160:1531-1532. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.160.8.1531
View Author and Article Information
Kansas City, Kan.

Edited by the APA Steering Committee on Practice Guidelines. Washington, D.C., American Psychiatric Publishing, 2002, 928 pp., $77.95; $59.95 (paper).

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This volume presents a collection of 11 practice guidelines developed by APA. The guidelines cover many important topics in psychiatry, namely, psychiatric evaluation, dementia, delirium, HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, panic disorder, eating disorders, and borderline personality disorder. It is an invaluable resource for practitioners in any type of psychiatric setting, and it will be a very useful resource for psychiatric nurses, clinical psychologists, and social workers as well as primary care physicians. The guidelines have been published in the American Journal of Psychiatry and also as individual monographs. It is very convenient to have all of them in one volume.

The book starts with a statement of intent, which serves as a short disclosure. It is followed by an introduction authored by John McIntyre and Sara Charles. The introduction describes the history of APA’s practice guidelines, the development process, and the potential benefits and risks of this project. It also outlines the progress in guideline development and gives instructions on how to obtain Category I continuing medical education (CME) credit through related Internet-based programs on APA’s web site. I looked it up and found that nine of 11 guidelines are covered by 3 hours of CME credit each with a $15 fee ($30 for nonmembers) for processing the self-test and provision of a CME certificate.

New for this publication are guidelines for HIV/AIDS and borderline personality disorder. The guideline for bipolar disorder is a revision of the previously published guideline. Each practice guideline has its own section, which starts with the list of work group participants, date of original publication, and date of revision. The detailed table of contents makes it very easy to navigate each section.

Most of the guidelines are preceded by a summary, an introduction, and/or a description of the guideline development process. Each guideline is followed by an extensive list of hundreds of references for supporting evidence and provides acknowledgment to individuals and organizations that submitted comments. A notable feature of these guidelines is a section on future research needs and questions, which provides an understanding of the unresolved problems not only for a researcher but also for anybody involved in the mental health field.

The structure of each guideline is different. The Practice Guideline for the Evaluation of Adults describes purpose of evaluation, possible settings, and the evaluation process with special attention devoted to all domains of the clinical evaluation. The disease-specific guidelines generally include sections on definitions, epidemiology, and treatment principles and alternatives, including both pharmacological and psychosocial treatments. I found quite interesting the sections on clinical features influencing treatment. They point out the variability of clinical situations and different management approaches. I highly recommend that the multiple tables of contents be moved to one place for future editions. Currently, a table of contents precedes each guideline and slows down navigation through this volume. Overall, this is an important summary of psychiatric research and practice that has an important place among other reference resources.

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