The DSM5/RDoC debate on the future of mental health research: implication for studies on human stress and presentation of the signature bank

Stress. 2017 Jan;20(1):95-111. doi: 10.1080/10253890.2017.1286324. Epub 2017 Feb 16.


In 2008, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) announced that in the next few decades, it will be essential to study the various biological, psychological and social "signatures" of mental disorders. Along with this new "signature" approach to mental health disorders, modifications of DSM were introduced. One major modification consisted of incorporating a dimensional approach to mental disorders, which involved analyzing, using a transnosological approach, various factors that are commonly observed across different types of mental disorders. Although this new methodology led to interesting discussions of the DSM5 working groups, it has not been incorporated in the last version of the DSM5. Consequently, the NIMH launched the "Research Domain Criteria" (RDoC) framework in order to provide new ways of classifying mental illnesses based on dimensions of observable behavioral and neurobiological measures. The NIMH emphasizes that it is important to consider the benefits of dimensional measures from the perspective of psychopathology and environmental influences, and it is also important to build these dimensions on neurobiological data. The goal of this paper is to present the perspectives of DSM5 and RDoC to the science of mental health disorders and the impact of this debate on the future of human stress research. The second goal is to present the "Signature Bank" developed by the Institut Universitaire en Santé Mentale de Montréal (IUSMM) that has been developed in line with a dimensional and transnosological approach to mental illness.

Keywords: DSM5; Mental health; RDoC; biological signature; development; developmental psychopathology; dimensions; environment.

MeSH terms

  • Environment
  • Humans
  • Mental Health*
  • National Institute of Mental Health (U.S.)*
  • Psychopathology
  • Research
  • Stress, Psychological*
  • United States

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