Staging of Mental Disorders: Systematic Review

Department of Psychology, University of Florence, Florence, Italy.
Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics (Impact Factor: 9.2). 01/2013; 82(1):20-34. DOI: 10.1159/000342243
Source: PubMed


The staging method, whereby a disorder is characterized according to its seriousness, extension, development and features, is attracting increasing attention in clinical psychology and psychiatry. The aim of this systematic review was to critically summarize the tools that are available for reproducing and standardizing the clinical intuitions that are involved in a staging formulation.

A comprehensive research was conducted on the MEDLINE, PsycINFO, EMBASE and Cochrane databases from inception to May 2012. The following search terms were used: 'stage/staging' AND 'psychiatric disorder/mental disorder/schizophrenia/mood disorder/anxiety disorder/substance use disorder/eating disorder'.

A total of 78 studies were identified for inclusion in the review. We discussed studies addressing or related to the issue of staging in a number of mental disorders (schizophrenia, unipolar depression, bipolar disorder, panic disorder, substance use disorders, anorexia and bulimia nervosa). The literature indicates that disorders have a longitudinal development or a treatment history that can be categorized according to stages. We proposed staging formulations for the above-mentioned psychiatric disorders.

Staging models offer innovative assessment tools for clinical psychologists and psychiatrists. Characterizing each stage of an illness demarcates major prognostic and therapeutic differences among patients who otherwise seem to be deceptively similar since they share the same psychiatric diagnosis. A stage 0 to denote an at-risk condition does not appear to be warranted at the current state of research.

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Available from: Fiammetta Cosci, Feb 18, 2014
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    • "Thus, it is important to recognise the distinctions between the model investigated in this current study and others in the literature. Comprehensive longitudinal research will help to determine the utility of staging within single disorders (see (Cosci and Fava 2013)) versus staging across a range of syndromes (Hickie et al. 2013b; Hickie et al. 2013a). "
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