ICD vs DSM - Key Differences and Similarities - Flatworld Solutions (2023)

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ICD vs DSM - Key Differences and Similarities - Flatworld Solutions (1)

International Classification of Diseases (ICD) and Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM are systems that identify and classify diseases once the diagnosis is established. ICD and DSM are identical in some ways and differ in others. However, both systems represent codes and manual for diseases which provide medical informatics such as automated decision support, claims process in medical billing, statistics on morbidity & mortality, surveying epidemic outbreak, etc. as well as for clinical purposes such as treatment, and welfare of public health.

This write-up will focus on the differences and similarities between ICD and DSM systems. The classifications of illness under ICD includes the ones under. However, the inverse cannot hold true because DSM classification is exclusively limited to psychological disorders. Neither of the two is considered biologically plausible and final. But it is just a matter of preference for classifying health condition. Read ahead to know in detail, the specifics of ICD vs DSM. But before that, here is an introduction and comparison of ICD and DSM systems -

Understanding ICD and DSM

  1. ICD

    ICD vs DSM - Key Differences and Similarities - Flatworld Solutions (2)

    International Classification of Diseases (ICD) is a globally accepted convention for classifying the illnesses. It is a complete system that covers all illness documented in the world. ICD is used for health management, epidemiology, and for various other clinical purposes. This system is maintained by World Health Organization by accounting all conditions, disorders, and diseases in the WHO member nations.

    Whether it is signs, diseases, social circumstances, abnormal finding, or more ICD represents a comprehensive code list that provides decision support to healthcare providers, health insurance companies, and other healthcare agencies across the world. ICD system is a benchmarking tool for international comparability which is used by healthcare professionals to easily map medical conditions with a generic category.

    Revision of ICD system is a periodical process. Initially, the system was designated to be revised once in every decade. However, it became clear that the time between two successive revisions was rather short. ICD-10, updated in 1994, is the current version which provides classifications for more than 155,000 codes. It was swiftly adopted across the world with resources readily accessible in the form of manual and browser from the WHO. A customized version of ICD-10 was adopted by Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.

    Currently, WHO is amidst revising ICD. The new version called ICD-11 is being authored using iCAT (Collaborative authoring tool), an online workspace. After completing the review in 2015, a final draft was planned for endorsement in 2017. However, it was deferred for approval from the WHA (World Health Assembly) until 2018.

    ICD-11 contains codes and definitions in a language that is simple enough for humans to understand. The new revisions permit computerization of content which enhances its pliability and applicability.

  2. DSM

    ICD vs DSM - Key Differences and Similarities - Flatworld Solutions (3)

    Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder (DSM) is a handbook that provides criteria for classifying clinical diagnosis, particularly ones associated with mental disorder. This system offers a common language that helps medical professionals to make better healthcare decisions. DSM is also useful in documenting and sharing patient diagnosis after successful evaluation.

    American Psychiatric Association (APA) is the organization behind the publication of DSM manual. DSM has a lesser recognition globally because this manual is only popular in the United States and partially accepted across the world. The criteria included in the DSM manual are not all-inclusive and therefore, its validity and reliability were’t bulletproof. However recently, the system is somewhat believed to be accurate due to its practicality in general belief and research.

    Revision of the DSM is also a periodical process, and currently, the system is in the 5th edition (DSM-5). It contains latest codes for all recognized mental disorders. The DSM publication helps bring over $ 5 million annually to APA. The widespread use of DSM is still yet to become a reality because the system is mostly considered bigoted and unscientific.

    "In a survey across 66 countries, psychiatrists agree that ICD is considered best for diagnosis, while DSM benefitted research."


In the world of medical coding, diagnosis classification, and areas where better healthcare decision is critical, it is important to have a generally accepted codebook that can make the process easier and more usable on a global scale. The answer to that is ICD and DSM classifications.

They are manuals used by healthcare and insurance professionals for treatment and reimbursement process. But, why do we need two sets of classification systems? Ahead lies the answer to similarities and differences between ICD and DSM.

Similarities between ICD and DSM

A few similarities between ICD and DSM Systems are as follows -

  • Shared Definitions - ICD and DSM share several similar codes for diagnosis. However, the specificity of defining each condition is where they differ. For example codes for social pragmatic communication disorder, and alcohol use disorder (AUD), etc. are similar in both the classification system
  • Classification - DSM and ICD are code sets which are nearly identical in many ways and permits classifying the diagnosis for healthcare and insurance processing processes
  • Code Crosswalking - Both DSM and ICD allow crosswalking from old to new versions. This allows the new version to have some definitions from the former versions
  • Formulation - The criteria for DSM and ICD are not decided based on factual evidence, but they are approved by medical experts for research after reaching a consensus

Differences between ICD and DSM

Although the coding system looks identical, it does have areas where the system differs. Here are the main differences between ICD and DSM systems -



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Although it promptly assists in data collection, It is considered to be less accurate


With clinical significance criteria and specificity in the description, it is considered to be far more accurate



ICD systems are considered to be less reliable because they reject diagnostic criteria without independent validation. This leads to disagreements in diagnosis


As operational criteria were introduced, the system is considered more reliable in a statistical context



It is an official classification adopted by many nations around the world


It is an official classification in the United States. But is adopted by many countries as well



ICD is used for classifying all illness and is used by many health practitioners


DSM is used particularly by psychiatrists as it represents code set for all mental disorders



ICD is popular in WHO member nations which include low and middle-income nations


DSM is the first choice for psychiatric health in high-income nations



ICD provides guidance and diagnostic criteria without including operational criteria


DSM provides operational criteria which distinct definitions for each condition

Conclusion - The development in ICD and DSM Codes will continue to Fuel Research

Both ICD and DSM code sets bear the value in the future of healthcare. The popularity of the DSM has drawn the attention of researchers and is currently driving awareness of advantages and limitations of each system. While DSM stimulated research, its advances were truncated when this system provided credibility to non-existent diagnosis.

On the other hand, ICD could not generate buzz at equivalent proportion because it was insufficiently resourced. Over the last decade, vast improvements have led to better definitions that are being considered by health experts worldwide. The ICD and DSM systems will continue to see more code inclusions ahead as well as support in improving the global healthcare.

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What are the similarities and differences between DSM and ICD? ›

However, the DSM-5 gives mental health professionals criteria and definitions to classify diseases through a common language, while ICD-10 assigns a code that is used for reimbursement in claims processing. It is also important to note that the DSM-5 is strictly intended for mental disorders.

What is the difference between the ICD and DSM? ›

The ICD is produced by a global health agency with a constitutional public health mission, while the DSM is produced by a single national professional association. WHO's primary focus for the mental and behavioral disorders classification is to help countries to reduce the disease burden of mental disorders.

What do the DSM and ICD have in common? ›

ICD and DSM are identical in some ways and differ in others. However, both systems represent codes and manual for diseases which provide medical informatics such as automated decision support, claims process in medical billing, statistics on morbidity & mortality, surveying epidemic outbreak, etc.

What are the main differences between ICD-10 and DSM-5 criteria for diagnosing schizophrenia? ›

The DSM-5 criteria puts more emphasis on social or occupational dysfunction than the ICD-10. The ICD-10, on the other hand, puts more emphasis on first-rank symptoms. The current proposal for the ICD-11 criteria for schizophrenia recommends adding self-disorder as a symptom.

What is the difference between ICD-10 and DRG? ›

​DRG, ICD-10, and CPT are all codes used with Medicare and insurers, but they communicate different things. ICD-10 codes are used to explain the diagnosis, and CPT codes describe procedures that the healthcare provider performs. Both diagnosis and procedure are used to determine DRG.

Why is DSM more accurate than ICD? ›

But DSM is a coding system for diagnosis of mental disorder. Every “psychiatric disorder” is classified under “mental and behavioral disorders.” This classification is useful for diagnosing those under psychiatric care. The latter is more accurate because of its immense contribution to research and common language.

What is difference between DSM-5 and ICD-11? ›

The ICD‐11 also differs from the DSM‐5 in its placement of Secondary Mental or Behavioural Syndromes Associated with Disorders or Diseases Classified Elsewhere, which correspond to Mental Disorders Due to Another Medical Condition in the DSM‐5.

How does the ICD differ from the DSM quizlet? ›

What are the differences of the DSM and ICD? ICD encompasses all types of disorders whereas DSM is only western cultures and mental disorders. DSM requires psychiatrist to evaluate the person whereas the ICD is more symptom based.

What is the relationship between the ICD and DSM-5 quizlet? ›

What is the relationship between the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) and DSM-5? The two publications do not include identical lists of psychological disorders; for those disorders listed in both, the DSM-5 descriptions and diagnostic criteria are often more detailed.

What are the advantages of the ICD? ›

The ICD is important because it provides a common language for recording, reporting and monitoring diseases. This allows the world to compare and share data in a consistent and standard way – between hospitals, regions and countries and over periods of time.

What were two major changes to the DSM-5? ›

Major changes in dissociative disorders in DSM-5 include the following: 1) derealization is included in the name and symptom structure of what previously was called depersonalization disorder and is now called depersonalizafion/derealizafion disorder, 2) dissociative fugue is now a specifier of dissociative amnesia ...

What is the relationship between who ICD and the DSM-5 TR? ›

The ICD contains the code numbers used in DSM-5-TR and all of medicine, needed for insurance reimbursement and for monitoring of morbidity and mortality statistics by national and international health agencies.

Do both classification systems ICD and DSM have the same criteria for schizophrenia? ›

Furthermore, the ICD-11 definition of schizophrenia was harmonised with that of DSM-5 with the removal of first-rank symptoms,62 but differences remain with regard to duration of symptoms and impaired function. The changes in the specifiers of schizophrenia in ICD-11 are similar to those made by DSM-5 to DSM-IV.

Why does the DSM-5 no longer recognize various subtypes of schizophrenic disorder? ›

The DSM-5 also got rid of the subtypes as separate diagnostic categories, based on the presenting symptom. This was found to not be helpful, since many subtypes overlapped with one another and were thought to decrease the diagnostic validity, according to the American Psychiatric Association.

Is the DSM-5 culturally sensitive? ›

In an effort to improve diagnosis and care to people of all backgrounds, the fifth edition of the Diag- nosfic and Stafisfical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) incorporates a greater cultural sensitivity throughout the manual.

What are the pros and cons of DRG? ›

The advantages of the DRG payment system are reflected in the increased efficiency and transparency and reduced average length of stay. The disadvantage of DRG is creating financial incentives toward earlier hospital discharges. Occasionally, such polices are not in full accordance with the clinical benefit priorities.

Does Medicare pay based on DRG? ›

This payment system is referred to as the inpatient prospective payment system (IPPS). Under the IPPS, each case is categorized into a diagnosis-related group (DRG). Each DRG has a payment weight assigned to it, based on the average resources used to treat Medicare patients in that DRG.

What is a DRG example? ›

For example, a hospital in New York City pays higher wages than a hospital in rural Kansas, which is reflected in the payment rate each hospital gets for the same DRG.

What are 2 criticisms of using the DSM? ›

In the 1950s, the DSM-I contained around 60 disorders, and even then people criticized its reliability and validity, questioning its scientific basis and the blurry line between normal and abnormal behavior.

What are two criticisms DSM? ›

The critique of the DSM-5 has focused on deficits in its utility, reliability, and validity. In addition, often it sets a bar too low, and exposes both vulnerable people and normal ones to the risks of overdiagnosis and of pathologizing normal conditions.

What are the strengths and limitations of the ICD classification system? ›

The major benefit of ICD-10 is the opportunity to organize better patient care and enhance patient outcomes. However, the new system also presents some considerable challenges. The greatest downside of ICD-10 is the exponential cost increase for the physicians at the implementation stage.

What are the three major components of the DSM-5? ›

DSM consists of three major components: the diagnostic classification, the diagnostic criteria sets, and the descriptive text.

What are the three things that the DSM V is used for? ›

The DSM-5 covers a range of diagnoses, including depressive disorders, eating and feeding disorders, personality disorders, and trauma- and stressor-related disorders.

What are the limitations of the ICD? ›

The code length and alphanumeric structure limit the number of new codes that can be created, and many ICD-9 categories are already full. The codes themselves lack specificity and detail to support the following: Accurate anatomical descriptions. Differentiation of risk and severity.

What is the difference between ICD? ›

The ICD-10 codes allow the use of combination codes which help in reporting 2 diagnoses, or multiple elements of the same diagnosis using a single code. ICD-9 does not support combination codes. ICD-10 uses alphabet codes to be more specific than ICD-9 codes.

What are three important points about the format of the ICD coding manual? ›

Did you know…
  • ICD-10 codes may include up to 7 alphanumeric characters.
  • The first three characters identify a category.
  • The first character is always a letter.
  • The second and third characters can be letters or numbers.
  • The minimum number of characters for an ICD-10 code is three.

Who uses DSM and who uses ICD? ›

While it may be confusing that there are two systems for diagnosing mental health disorders, the important thing to remember is that the DSM is primarily used in the United States while the ICD is used internationally and for insurance coding purposes.

What are the major changes between the DSM-IV and DSM-5? ›


The substance use disorder criterion of legal problems from the DSM-IV was dropped in favor of cravings or a strong desire or urge to use a substance in the DSM-5. In addition, three categories of disorder severity were formed, using the number of patient symptoms.

What are three benefits of moving to ICD-10? ›

ICD-10-CM/PCS code sets will enhance the quality of data for:
  • Tracking public health conditions (complications, anatomical location)
  • Improved data for epidemiological research (severity of illness, co-morbidities)
  • Measuring outcomes and care provided to patients.
  • Making clinical decisions.
  • Identifying fraud and abuse.

Where is ICD mainly used? ›

Clinical terms coded with ICD are the main basis for health recording and statistics on disease in primary, secondary and tertiary care, as well as on cause of death certificates. These data and statistics support payment systems, service planning, administration of quality and safety, and health services research.

What are the principles of ICD? ›

Principles of classification of ICD:
  • epidemic diseases.
  • constitutional or general diseases.
  • local diseases arranged by site.
  • developmental diseases.
  • injuries.
Jun 8, 2019

What are two advantages of using the DSM-5? ›

Therapists use the DSM-5 to: Identify and diagnose mental health conditions. Differentiate between similar diagnoses and ensure that the most appropriate treatment is provided.

What are some things that have changed in the new DSM-5? ›

(DSM-5) include eliminating the multi-axial system; removing the Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF score); reorganizing the classification of the disorders; and changing how disorders that result from a general medical condition are conceptualized.

What is the main criticism of the new DSM-5? ›

There are two main interrelated criticisms of DSM-5: an unhealthy influence of the pharmaceutical industry on the revision process. an increasing tendency to “medicalise” patterns of behaviour and mood that are not considered to be particularly extreme.

Do psychologists use DSM or ICD? ›

Most psychologists were trained using some version of DSM. For other health care providers, the World Health Organization's International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD) – which contains a chapter on mental disorders – is the classification standard.

Does DSM use ICD codes? ›

ICD codes are just that – codes for a particular diagnosis that contain no diagnostic criteria or other information. For convenience of the user, DSM-5 also provides the HIPAA compliant ICD codes that are associated with each diagnosis found in DSM.

What is the difference between ICD codes and DSM codes? ›

While ICD-10 is a worldwide standard, DSM-V was created by the American Psychiatric Association. Primarily used among mental and behavioral health providers, DSM-V provides standard criteria for classifying mental disorders.

Is the ICD or DSM better? ›

a ICD is more comprehensive than DSM. b DSM is more accurate than ICD. c ICD is the official international classification in psychiatry. d DSM is the only classification used in the USA.

What dissociative disorder is no longer classified in the DSM-5? ›

Dissociative identity disorder not otherwise specified is no longer a diagnosable disorder, according to the latest version of the DSM.

What is missing from the DSM-5? ›

The DSM-5 removed several sleep disorder diagnoses, including all diagnoses for Sleep Disorder Related to Another Medical Condition (Hypersomnia type: DSM-IV-TR 327.14; Insomnia type: DSM-IV-TR 327.01; Mixed type: DSM-IV-TR 327.8; Parasomnia type: DSM-IV-TR 327.44) and Sleep Disorder Related to a Another Mental ...

What disorders should be removed from the DSM? ›

One of the official proposals for the fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association's (APA) diagnostic manual (DSM-5) is to delete half of the existing personality disorders (i.e., dependent, histrionic, narcissistic, paranoid, and schizoid).

What is a major criticism of the DSM? ›

Oversimplification. The latest round of criticism echoes a long running debate on the nature of mental health. Many critics of the DSM see it as an oversimplification of the vast continuum of human behavior.

Is the DSM-5 unreliable? ›

The DSM-5 yielded satisfactory reliability, validity and classification accuracy. In comparing the DSM-5 to the DSM-IV, most comparisons of reliability, validity and classification accuracy showed more similarities than differences.

Is the DSM biologically or socially constructed? ›

Given the dual processes of consensus and authority that are used to create the categories and specific diagnoses that are included and excluded, it is crucial to recognize that the DSM is, first and foremost, a socially constructed document.

What is difference between DSM-5 and ICD 11? ›

The ICD‐11 also differs from the DSM‐5 in its placement of Secondary Mental or Behavioural Syndromes Associated with Disorders or Diseases Classified Elsewhere, which correspond to Mental Disorders Due to Another Medical Condition in the DSM‐5.

What is the relationship between the International Classification of Diseases ICD and DSM-5 quizlet? ›

What is the relationship between the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) and DSM-5? The two publications do not include identical lists of psychological disorders; for those disorders listed in both, the DSM-5 descriptions and diagnostic criteria are often more detailed.

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