ICD vs DSM - Key Differences and Similarities - Flatworld Solutions (2022)

ICD vs DSM - Key Differences and Similarities - Flatworld Solutions (1)

International Classification of Diseases (ICD) and Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM are systems that identify and classify diseases once the diagnosis is established. ICD and DSM are identical in some ways and differ in others. However, both systems represent codes and manual for diseases which provide medical informatics such as automated decision support, claims process in medical billing, statistics on morbidity & mortality, surveying epidemic outbreak, etc. as well as for clinical purposes such as treatment, and welfare of public health.

This write-up will focus on the differences and similarities between ICD and DSM systems. The classifications of illness under ICD includes the ones under. However, the inverse cannot hold true because DSM classification is exclusively limited to psychological disorders. Neither of the two is considered biologically plausible and final. But it is just a matter of preference for classifying health condition. Read ahead to know in detail, the specifics of ICD vs DSM. But before that, here is an introduction and comparison of ICD and DSM systems -

Understanding ICD and DSM

  1. ICD

    ICD vs DSM - Key Differences and Similarities - Flatworld Solutions (2)

    International Classification of Diseases (ICD) is a globally accepted convention for classifying the illnesses. It is a complete system that covers all illness documented in the world. ICD is used for health management, epidemiology, and for various other clinical purposes. This system is maintained by World Health Organization by accounting all conditions, disorders, and diseases in the WHO member nations.

    Whether it is signs, diseases, social circumstances, abnormal finding, or more ICD represents a comprehensive code list that provides decision support to healthcare providers, health insurance companies, and other healthcare agencies across the world. ICD system is a benchmarking tool for international comparability which is used by healthcare professionals to easily map medical conditions with a generic category.

    Revision of ICD system is a periodical process. Initially, the system was designated to be revised once in every decade. However, it became clear that the time between two successive revisions was rather short. ICD-10, updated in 1994, is the current version which provides classifications for more than 155,000 codes. It was swiftly adopted across the world with resources readily accessible in the form of manual and browser from the WHO. A customized version of ICD-10 was adopted by Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.

    Currently, WHO is amidst revising ICD. The new version called ICD-11 is being authored using iCAT (Collaborative authoring tool), an online workspace. After completing the review in 2015, a final draft was planned for endorsement in 2017. However, it was deferred for approval from the WHA (World Health Assembly) until 2018.

    ICD-11 contains codes and definitions in a language that is simple enough for humans to understand. The new revisions permit computerization of content which enhances its pliability and applicability.

  2. DSM

    ICD vs DSM - Key Differences and Similarities - Flatworld Solutions (3)

    Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder (DSM) is a handbook that provides criteria for classifying clinical diagnosis, particularly ones associated with mental disorder. This system offers a common language that helps medical professionals to make better healthcare decisions. DSM is also useful in documenting and sharing patient diagnosis after successful evaluation.

    American Psychiatric Association (APA) is the organization behind the publication of DSM manual. DSM has a lesser recognition globally because this manual is only popular in the United States and partially accepted across the world. The criteria included in the DSM manual are not all-inclusive and therefore, its validity and reliability were’t bulletproof. However recently, the system is somewhat believed to be accurate due to its practicality in general belief and research.

    Revision of the DSM is also a periodical process, and currently, the system is in the 5th edition (DSM-5). It contains latest codes for all recognized mental disorders. The DSM publication helps bring over $ 5 million annually to APA. The widespread use of DSM is still yet to become a reality because the system is mostly considered bigoted and unscientific.

    "In a survey across 66 countries, psychiatrists agree that ICD is considered best for diagnosis, while DSM benefitted research."


In the world of medical coding, diagnosis classification, and areas where better healthcare decision is critical, it is important to have a generally accepted codebook that can make the process easier and more usable on a global scale. The answer to that is ICD and DSM classifications.

They are manuals used by healthcare and insurance professionals for treatment and reimbursement process. But, why do we need two sets of classification systems? Ahead lies the answer to similarities and differences between ICD and DSM.

(Video) ICD-9 to ICD-10 Transition: Benefits, Challenges and Solution

Similarities between ICD and DSM

A few similarities between ICD and DSM Systems are as follows -

  • Shared Definitions - ICD and DSM share several similar codes for diagnosis. However, the specificity of defining each condition is where they differ. For example codes for social pragmatic communication disorder, and alcohol use disorder (AUD), etc. are similar in both the classification system
  • Classification - DSM and ICD are code sets which are nearly identical in many ways and permits classifying the diagnosis for healthcare and insurance processing processes
  • Code Crosswalking - Both DSM and ICD allow crosswalking from old to new versions. This allows the new version to have some definitions from the former versions
  • Formulation - The criteria for DSM and ICD are not decided based on factual evidence, but they are approved by medical experts for research after reaching a consensus

Differences between ICD and DSM

Although the coding system looks identical, it does have areas where the system differs. Here are the main differences between ICD and DSM systems -

Although it promptly assists in data collection, It is considered to be less accurate

With clinical significance criteria and specificity in the description, it is considered to be far more accurate

ICD systems are considered to be less reliable because they reject diagnostic criteria without independent validation. This leads to disagreements in diagnosis

As operational criteria were introduced, the system is considered more reliable in a statistical context

It is an official classification adopted by many nations around the world

It is an official classification in the United States. But is adopted by many countries as well

ICD is used for classifying all illness and is used by many health practitioners

DSM is used particularly by psychiatrists as it represents code set for all mental disorders

ICD is popular in WHO member nations which include low and middle-income nations

DSM is the first choice for psychiatric health in high-income nations

Conclusion - The development in ICD and DSM Codes will continue to Fuel Research

Both ICD and DSM code sets bear the value in the future of healthcare. The popularity of the DSM has drawn the attention of researchers and is currently driving awareness of advantages and limitations of each system. While DSM stimulated research, its advances were truncated when this system provided credibility to non-existent diagnosis.

On the other hand, ICD could not generate buzz at equivalent proportion because it was insufficiently resourced. Over the last decade, vast improvements have led to better definitions that are being considered by health experts worldwide. The ICD and DSM systems will continue to see more code inclusions ahead as well as support in improving the global healthcare.

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ICD vs DSM - Key Differences and Similarities - Flatworld Solutions (6)


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What is the difference between the DSM and ICD? ›

The ICD is produced by a global health agency with a constitutional public health mission, while the DSM is produced by a single national professional association. WHO's primary focus for the mental and behavioral disorders classification is to help countries to reduce the disease burden of mental disorders.

What are the similarities between DSM and ICD? ›

ICD and DSM are identical in some ways and differ in others. However, both systems represent codes and manual for diseases which provide medical informatics such as automated decision support, claims process in medical billing, statistics on morbidity & mortality, surveying epidemic outbreak, etc.

What is the difference between DSM 4 and ICD-10? ›

A main conceptual difference between the two classification systems is how they differentiate anxiety disorders in adulthood and childhood. The ICD-10 differentiates between anxiety disorders in childhood and in adulthood defining different criteria, whereas for the DSM-IV-TR this separation no longer exists.

What are the main differences between ICD-10 and DSM-5 criteria for diagnosing schizophrenia? ›

The DSM-5 criteria puts more emphasis on social or occupational dysfunction than the ICD-10. The ICD-10, on the other hand, puts more emphasis on first-rank symptoms. The current proposal for the ICD-11 criteria for schizophrenia recommends adding self-disorder as a symptom.

Why is DSM more accurate than ICD? ›

The main argument used by those who favour DSM is that it creates more accurate diagnosis. This may be true, partly because operational criteria are used but also because a much greater amount of resource and effort goes into making the classification than with ICD, which received very little funding indeed.

What is the relationship between the ICD and DSM-5 quizlet? ›

What is the relationship between the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) and DSM-5? The two publications do not include identical lists of psychological disorders; for those disorders listed in both, the DSM-5 descriptions and diagnostic criteria are often more detailed.

What are the major differences of DSM 4 and DSM-5? ›


The substance use disorder criterion of legal problems from the DSM-IV was dropped in favor of cravings or a strong desire or urge to use a substance in the DSM-5. In addition, three categories of disorder severity were formed, using the number of patient symptoms.

What do the DSM-IV and the ICD-10 have in common? ›

The DSM‐IV and ICD‐10 are both operational diagnostic systems that classify known psychological disorders according to the number of criteria symptoms. Certain discrepancies between the criteria exist and may lead to some inconsistencies in psychiatric research.

What is the difference between ICD and ICD-10? ›

ICD-10 codes have greater character length, which expands the number of codes available for use. With ICD-10, we can have a large number of chapters in the future. ICD-9 codes are 3-5 characters in length while ICD-10 codes are 3-7 characters in length.

What are the key features of DSM 4? ›

They use a categorical approach that defines mental disorders based on specific features. The DSM-IV utilizes a five axes classification enabling the complexity of the mental illness to be captured. Both allow for dual diagnosis. There are 12 distinct categories of anxiety disorders in the DSM-IV.

What is the difference between diagnosis and classification? ›

Christian Dejaco, MD, PhD: The difference between classification and diagnostic criteria is that classification criteria have been developed for the classification of patients for the purpose of clinical studies, whereas diagnostic criteria are used to diagnose patients in clinical practice.

What are the classification of mental disorder according to ICD-10? ›

F10-F19 Mental and behavioural disorders due to psychoactive substance use. F20-F29 Schizophrenia, schizotypal and delusional disorders. F30-F39 Mood [affective] disorders. F40-F48 Neurotic, stress-related and somatoform disorders.

Do both classification systems ICD and DSM have the same criteria for schizophrenia? ›

Furthermore, the ICD-11 definition of schizophrenia was harmonised with that of DSM-5 with the removal of first-rank symptoms,62 but differences remain with regard to duration of symptoms and impaired function. The changes in the specifiers of schizophrenia in ICD-11 are similar to those made by DSM-5 to DSM-IV.

What are two key characteristics that differentiate did from schizophrenia? ›

Schizophrenia is a condition marked by disturbances in thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Dissociative disorders are characterized by problems with the continuity of memories, thoughts, identity, and actions that result in a disconnection from reality.

What is the main difference between schizophrenia and delusional disorder? ›

Delusional disorder is distinguished from schizophrenia by the presence of delusions without any of the other symptoms of psychosis (for example, hallucinations, disorganized speech, or disorganized behavior).

Is the DSM and ICD reliable? ›

Conclusion: In conclusion, both classification systems (DSM and ICD) and both editions (DSM-IV and DSM-5 and ICD-10 and ICD-11) of gender identity-related diagnoses seem reliable and convenient for clinical use.

How accurate are ICD codes? ›

ICD-10 code sensitivity was 91.4% (95% CI, 82.3–96.8), specificity was 90.2% (87.5–92.5), PPV was 52.5% (43.2–61.6) and NPV 98.9% (97.6–99.6). Individual codes for intracranial hemorrhages and gastrointestinal tract bleeding had similar accuracy as the overall set of bleeding codes.

What are some advantages of the DSM system? ›

In addition, the DSM helps guide research in the mental health field. The diagnostic checklists help ensure that different groups of researchers are studying the same disorder—although this may be more theoretical than practical, as so many disorders have such widely varying symptoms.

What were two major changes to the DSM-5? ›

Major changes in dissociative disorders in DSM-5 include the following: 1) derealization is included in the name and symptom structure of what previously was called depersonalization disorder and is now called depersonalizafion/derealizafion disorder, 2) dissociative fugue is now a specifier of dissociative amnesia ...

What is the DSM-5 and what are its major features? ›

DSM-5-TR includes a new diagnosis, prolonged grief disorder and new symptom codes that allow clinicians to indicate the presence or history of suicidal behavior and nonsuicidal self-injury.

What is the major change to the substance use disorders in the DSM-5? ›

Substance Abuse and Substance Dependence. A major change from DSM-IV to DSM-5 is the combination of substance abuse disorder and substance dependence disorder into a single SUD.

What was a major change to DSM-5? ›

One of the key changes from DSM-IV to DSM-5 is the elimination of the multi-axial system. DSM-IV approached psychiatric assessment and organization of biopsychosocial information using a multi-axial formulation (American Psychiatric Association, 2013b). There were five different axes.

What is the DSM-5 criteria for? ›

DSM-5-TR contains the most up-to-date criteria for diagnosing mental disorders, along with extensive descriptive text, providing a common language for clinicians to communicate about their patients.

What are the main types of mental ill health according to DSM ICD classification? ›

The International Classification of Diseases (ICD 10). Types of mental health according to DSM and ICD: o mood disorders o personality disorders o anxiety disorders o psychotic disorders o substance-related disorders o eating disorders o cognitive disorders.

What are the DSM diagnostic codes used for? ›

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is the official reference manual used to accurately diagnose mental health conditions.

Why is it important to use current ICD codes? ›

Why is the ICD important? The ICD is important because it provides a common language for recording, reporting and monitoring diseases. This allows the world to compare and share data in a consistent and standard way – between hospitals, regions and countries and over periods of time.

Is ICD and diagnosis code the same? ›

Diagnosis codes, such as the ICD-10-CM, are officially called the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision, Clinical Modification. These codes describe an individual's disease or medical condition.

Is DSM V and DSM-5 the same thing? ›

It's DSM-5, not DSM-V: Why little differences matter in the mental disorders manual. The new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders was released last week, following weeks of controversy prior to its release.

Does the DSM-5 have any competitors with the diagnostic system? ›

International Classification of Diseases (ICD)

The ICD is the best known and most popular alternative to DSM-5—perhaps because it is the keeper of the diagnostic codes used for tracking incidence and prevalence rates, as well as for health insurance reimbursement.

Do psychologists use DSM or ICD? ›

Most psychologists were trained using some version of DSM. For other health care providers, the World Health Organization's International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD) – which contains a chapter on mental disorders – is the classification standard.

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