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Book Review

Kaplan & Sadock’s Pocket Handbook of Clinical Psychiatry, 5th ed

Catherine Chiles, MD

Published: September 15, 2011

Kaplan & Sadock’s Pocket Handbook of Clinical Psychiatry, 5th ed

by Benjamin J. Sadock, MD, and Virginia A. Sadock, MD. Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, Philadelphia, PA, 2010, 566 pages, $59.95 (paper).

This follow-up edition is a small companion to the authors’ 2009 Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry, Ninth Edition.1 The Pocket Handbook of Clinical Psychiatry, Fifth Edition, is definitely worth its salt—a substantive and comprehensive text in its own right, serving the needs of students, practicing physicians, and educators.

The pocket handbook ably condenses the standard textbook through the use of outline formats and abbreviated descriptions and the skillful use of tables and charts as well as cross-references to other chapters. It capitalizes on the success of earlier editions and expands upon them. The pocket handbook covers the vast terrain of psychiatry in a user-friendly format that utilizes glossaries, appendices, and table-format diagnostic criteria keyed to DSM-IV-TR.2 Embedded in each chapter are Clinical Hints, related to chapter content, that serve as pearls of wisdom for the reader; examples include a "take-home" concept, an alert for a treatment peril, or an epidemiologic fact that enhances clinical understanding. Each chapter is annotated at the end, guiding the reader to the relevant, more extensive literature in the larger textbook.

The pocket handbook begins, in chapter 1, "Classification and Diagnosis in Psychiatry," by grounding the reader in psychiatric nomenclature, whether anew or as a refresher. In this medical era of myriad documentation demands, initial chapters cover, in some detail, the standards for obtaining and assessing "Psychiatric History and Mental Status" (chapter 2). Guidance is given, in expanded format compared to earlier editions, for the "Psychiatric Report and Medical Record" (chapter 3). Subsequent chapters address "Brain Imaging in Psychiatry" (chapter 4) and standard "Laboratory Tests in Psychiatry" (chapter 5), which are updated for the latest evidence base in medicine that underpins thorough psychiatric evaluations; information is provided in outline format as well as extended tables that not only list the tests, but also note their clinical indications and cautions regarding use. Ensuing chapters focus on individual diagnoses, such as chapter 7, "Delirium and Dementia," which is now streamlined, and the addition of an independent chapter on "Mental Disorders due to a Medical Condition" (chapter 9) that covers a range of conditions such as traumatic brain injury, neurosyphilis, Lyme disease, and brain tumors. Throughout this chapter (and others) are clinically relevant tables, for example Table 9-9, "Clinical Features Distinguishing Seizures from Pseudoseizures."

Diagnosis-based chapters are logically organized to connect related areas (eg, chapter 11, "Alcohol, Opioid and Substance-related Disorders") across the domains of substance use, mood, anxiety, psychosis, and somatoform disorders, with specialized areas of interest such as chapter 27, "Geriatric Psychiatry," and chapter 28, "End-of-Life Care, Death, Dying and Bereavement." Of note, a new chapter, "Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome" (chapter 20), addresses the neuroscience and treatment paradigms a psychiatrist must know.

Kaplan & Sadock’s Pocket Handbook of Clinical Psychiatry, Fifth Edition, concludes with extensive chapters on psychotherapies and pharmacologic interventions and a foray into the legal and ethical aspects of psychiatric practice. This latest edition is expanded, yet still portable; it delivers a must-have textbook for the hand or pocket. Not too much, not too little, but it’s just right.


1. Kaplan HI, Sadock BJ. Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins; 2009.

2. American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association; 2000.

Catherine Chiles, MD

Author affiliations: Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut. Potential conflicts of interest: None reported.

Volume: 72

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