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Strategies for Making an Accurate Differential Diagnosis of Schizoaffective Disorder

John M. Kane, MD

Published: December 23, 2010

Article Abstract

To make an accurate differential diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, clinicians can carefully gather information from patients and other informants, consider the information within a conceptual diagnostic framework, differentiate between schizoaffective disorder and other disorders, and reevaluate the diagnosis over time. Making an accurate diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder can be difficult because patients may remember insufficient detail of symptoms including their duration and overlap. Clinicians should realize that the diagnostic stability and interrater reliability of schizoaffective disorder are low. An accurate history of patients’ signs and symptoms and their course and duration is essential to making a diagnosis. Careful documentation of symptoms and recording of the basis for diagnosis are crucial so that the diagnosis can be reevaluated over time.

From the Department of Psychiatry, The Zucker Hillside Hospital, Glen Oaks, and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York.

This article is derived from the planning teleconference series "New Approaches to Managing Schizoaffective Disorder From Diagnosis to Treatment," which was held in June 2010 and supported by an educational grant from Janssen, Division of Ortho-McNeill-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. administered by Ortho-McNeill Janssen Scientific Affairs, LLC.

Dr Kane is a consultant for AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Cephalon, Dainippon Sumitomo, Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline, Lundbeck, Merck, Novartis, Intra-cellular Therapies, Janssen, Johnson & Johnson, Otsuka, Proteus, Rules Based Medicine, Roche, Takeda, Vanda, and Wyeth; has received honoraria from AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Esai, Otsuka, Janssen, and Eli Lilly; and is a stock shareholder of MedAvante.

Corresponding author: John M. Kane, MD, 75-59 263rd St, Glen Oaks, NY 11004 (

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