Global creep of DSM-5’s Somatic symptom disorder

Post #303 Shortlink:

Update at April 14, 2014:

Written response (April 10, 2014) from Independent Hospital Pricing Authority (IHPA) to request for clarification regarding the term ‘Somatic symptom disorder’ and Australia’s clinical modification of ICD-10, ICD-10-AM:

PDF: IHPA response re SSD and ICD-10-AM


As previously posted:

In the previous posting Update on proposal to add DSM-5′s Somatic symptom disorder to ICD-10-CM I reported that NCHS is preparing to rubber stamp proposals to insert Somatic symptom disorder into the U.S.’s forthcoming clinical modification of ICD-10.

Comments/objections to Diagnosis Agenda proposals submitted at the March meeting need to be sent by email to NCHS at by June 20th.

1] According to this Australian legislative document:

Australian Government, Statement of Principles concerning somatic symptom disorder No. 24 of 2014

for the purposes of the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 and Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004

“Somatic symptom disorder attracts ICD-10-AM code F45.1.”

For the purposes of the Statement of Principles:

“ICD-10-AM code” means a number assigned to a particular kind of injury or disease in The International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th Revision, Australian Modification (ICD-10-AM), Eighth Edition, effective date of 1 July 2013, copyrighted by the Independent Hospital Pricing Authority, and having ISBN 978-1-74128-213-9;”

The Australian ICD-10-CM, Eighth Edition, July 2013 is not in the public domain. As I do not have access to a copy, I have contacted the relevant body for clarifications.

I have asked whether Somatic symptom disorder has been added to the Eighth Edition of ICD-10-AM as an Inclusion term to F45.1 Undifferentiated somatoform disorder in the Tabular List and Alphabetical Index.

Or, whether this legislative document relies on the ICD cross-walk codes as published in the DSM-5 in May 2013 for the cross-walk between DSM-5 disorders and the disorders in the U.S.’s ICD-9-CM and forthcoming ICD-10-CM.

Or, whether the legislative document relies on a cross-walk between DSM-5 disorders and ICD-10-AM codes developed specifically in relation to the ICD-10-AM Eighth Edition, July 2013.

I will update this post when I have received clarification.

According to this page:

“[Australia’s] ICD-10-AM has also enjoyed more widespread use, having been assessed, found suitable and adopted by many other countries, including: New Zealand, Ireland, Singapore, Slovenia.”

I am unable to confirm how many countries that have adopted ICD-10-AM have migrated from earlier editions to the July 2013 edition or are preparing to migrate to the most recent edition.

Other clinical modifications (CMs) of ICD-10:

Canada (ICD-10-CA): The most recent edition of ICD-10-CA is the 2009 edition Volume One: Tabular List 2009. Canada is anticipated to adopt a CM of ICD-11 before the U.S. does, but in meantime, an updated edition of ICD-10-CA might be anticipated, especially given the recent extension to the ICD-11 development timeline. Canadians will need to be alert to the potential for addition of SSD as an inclusion term to the next edition of ICD-10-CA.

Germany (ICD-10-GM): There is an ICD-10-GM version for 2014. There is no SSD under F45.x or under any other code, but watch for any updated versions released prior to transition to a CM of ICD-11.

Thailand (ICD-10-TM): There does not appear to be a more recent version of the Thai clinical modification than the online version for 2007, but watch for SSD in any updated versions prior to potential transition to a CM of ICD-11. ICD-10-TM Online version for 2007.

ICD-11 Beta drafting platform:

There is no documentary evidence of a proposal to add SSD, per se, to ICD-11. However, the wording for the Definition for Bodily distress disorder, as it currently stands in the Beta drafting platform, is drawn from the Gureje, Creed 2012 paper on the S3DWG sub working group’s emerging proposals for ICD-11 [1].

The paper described a simplified disorder framework – a construct into which DSM-5′s Somatic Symptom Disorder could be comfortably integrated, thus facilitating harmonization between the respective ICD-11 and DSM-5 disorder construct and criteria replacements for the Somatoform disorders classifications.

As with DSM-5′s SSD, for the emerging proposals for BDD, the focus was not on symptoms counts, or on strict symptom patterns or clusters from one or more body systems, or on whether symptoms were determined as being “medically explained” or “medically unexplained,” but on the perception of disproportionate or maladaptive psychobehavioural responses to, or excessive preoccupation with any troublesome chronic bodily symptom(s). And that in doing away with the “unreliable assumption of its causality” the diagnosis of BDD would not exclude the presence of a co-occurring physical health condition – which is very close to SSD’s defining characteristics.

1. Creed F, Gureje O. Emerging themes in the revision of the classification of somatoform disorders. Int Rev Psychiatry. 2012 Dec;24(6):556-67. [Abstract. Full text behind paywall]

2] On the site, a peer reviewed article on Somatic symptom disorder:

This article is not a recommendation and it draws heavily on the DSM-IV and current ICD-10 Somatoform disorders framework, criteria and literature. Though it does highlight that DSM-5 has a new, simplified framework and reformulated criteria that rely less on strict patterns of somatic symptoms and more on the degree to which a patient’s thoughts, feelings and behaviours about their symptoms are considered disproportionate or excessive; that for DSM-5, “medically unexplained” is de-emphasized – symptoms may or may not be associated with another medical condition and patients with organic comorbidities such as heart disease, osteoarthritis or cancer, who would have previously been excluded under DSM-IV, can now be included in the diagnosis of SSD.

There is little published research examining the reliability, utility, epidemiology, clinical characteristics or treatment of Somatic symptom disorder as a diagnostic construct and none of the article’s references are for papers specifically using the new Somatic symptom disorder criteria.

3] Somatic symptom disorder in a BMJ Rapid Response:

Rapid Response to: Clinical Review, Fibromyalgia by Anisur Rahman, Martin Underwood, Dawn Carnes [Full text for Clinical Review behind paywall]

Rapid Response: Fibromyalgia: an unhelpful diagnosis for both patients and doctors [Full text for Rapid Response accessible]

Christopher Bass, consultant in liaison psychiatry, John Radcliffe Hospital , Oxford OX3 9DU

Dr Max Henderson, senior lecturer in Epidemiology and Occupational psychiatry, Inststitute of psychiatry, Kings College London 

According to the authors, fibromyalgia ( coded in ICD-10 under Chapter XXIII Diseases of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue, at M79.7 ) is more appropriately described in terms of “polysymptomatic distress”; “polysymptomatic distress has been recognised as a somatoform disorder, specifically as a somatic symptom disorder or SSD,” and that since “FM overlaps with other disorders with medically unexplained symptoms such as irritable bowel syndrome and chronic fatigue syndrome” it is more appropriate to treat them with multidisciplinary teams within the same specialised service in the general hospital.

4] This commentary by infectious disease specialist, Judy Stone, MD, at Scientific American blogs, mentions concerns around SSD:

Have Pain? Are You Crazy? Rare Diseases Pt. 2

By Judy Stone | February 18, 2014

“It’s all in your head,” patients with unexplained pain or unexpected symptoms often hear…

5] Halifax Somatic Symptoms Disorder Trial Identifier: NCT02076867

Sponsor: Capital District Health Authority, Canada

The purpose of this study is to compare the effectiveness of Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy (ISTDP) plus Medical Care As Usual (MCAU) compared to MCAU for Somatic Symptom and Related Disorders (SSRD). Consenting patients presenting to the emergency department with suspected SSRD will be randomly allocated to receive either 8 weekly individual sessions of ISTDP or to an 8-week wait list followed by ISTDP. MCAU including emergency department and/or family doctor consultation is available throughout trial participation. The primary outcome measure is participant self-reported somatic symptoms at week 8.



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