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Original Research

McLean-Harvard International First-Episode Project: Two-Year Stability of ICD-10 Diagnoses in 500 First-Episode Psychotic Disorder Patients

Paola Salvatore, MD; Ross J. Baldessarini, MD; Mauricio Tohen, MD, DrPH; Hari-Mandir K. Khalsa, MS; Jesus Perez Sanchez-Toledo, MD, PhD; Carlos A. Zarate Jr, MD; Eduard Vieta, MD, PhD; and Carlo Maggini, MD

Published: July 13, 2010

Article Abstract

Objective: Because clinical and biologic research and optimal clinical practice require stability of diagnoses over time, we determined stability of ICD-10 psychotic disorder diagnoses and sought predictors of diagnostic instability.

Method: Patients from the McLean-Harvard International First-Episode Project, conducted from 1989 to 2003, who were hospitalized for first psychotic illnesses (N = 500) were diagnosed by ICD-10 criteria at baseline and 24 months, on the basis of extensive prospective assessments, to evaluate the longitudinal stability of specific categorical diagnoses and predictors of diagnostic change.

Results: Diagnostic stability averaged 90.4%, ranking as follows: schizoaffective disorder (100.0%) > mania with psychosis (99.0%) > mixed affective episode (94.9%) > schizophrenia (94.6%) > delusional disorder (88.2%) > severe depressive episode with psychotic symptoms (85.2%) > acute psychosis with/without schizophrenia symptoms = unspecified psychosis (all 66.7%) >> acute schizophrenia-like psychosis (28.6%). Diagnoses changed by 24 months of follow-up to schizoaffective disorder (37.5%), bipolar disorder (25.0%), schizophrenia (16.7%), or unspecified nonorganic psychosis (8.3%), mainly through emerging affective features. By logistic regression, diagnostic change was associated with Schneiderian first-rank psychotic symptoms at intake > lack of premorbid substance use.

Conclusions: We found some psychotic disorder diagnoses to be more stable by ICD-10 than DSM-IV criteria in the same patients, with implications for revisions of both diagnostic systems.

J Clin Psychiatry

Submitted: April 27, 2009; accepted August 14, 2009.

Online ahead of print: July 13, 2010 (doi:10.4088/JCP.09m05311yel).

Corresponding author: Paola Salvatore, MD, International Consortium for Bipolar and Psychotic Disorders Research, Centre Bldg G-7B, McLean Hospital, 115 Mill St, Belmont, MA 02478-9106 (

Volume: 71

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