Five systems of psychiatric classification for preschool children: do differences in validity, usefulness and reliability make for competitive or complimentary constellations?

Child Psychiatry Hum Dev. 2009 Mar;40(1):25-41. doi: 10.1007/s10578-008-0113-x. Epub 2008 Aug 14.


DSM-IV and ICD-10 have limitations in the diagnostic classification of psychiatric disorders at preschool age (0-5 years). The publication of the Diagnostic Classification 0-3 (DC:0-3) in 1994, its basically revised second edition (DC:0-3R) in 2005 and the Research Diagnostic Criteria-Preschool Age (RDC-PA) in 2004 have provided several modifications of these manuals. Taking into account the growing empirical evidence highlighting the need for a diagnostic classification system for psychiatric disorders in preschool children, the main categorical classification systems in preschool psychiatry will be presented and discussed. The paper will focus on issues of validity, usefulness and reliability in DSM-IV, ICD-10, RDC-PA, DC:0-3, and DC:0-3R. The reasons for including or excluding postulated psychiatric disorder categories for preschool children with variable degrees of empirical evidence into the different diagnostic systems will be discussed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Internal-External Control
  • International Classification of Diseases
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / classification*
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Personality Assessment / statistics & numerical data*
  • Psychometrics / statistics & numerical data
  • Reproducibility of Results