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Keywords:

  • specific phobia;
  • DSM;
  • agoraphobia;
  • phobia subtypes

Abstract

The present review was conducted in order to evaluate the current diagnostic criteria for specific phobia (SP) in light of the empirical evidence gathered since DSM-IV and to propose changes to DSM-V where change is clearly and reliably indicated by the evidence. In response to questions put forth by the DSM-V Anxiety, OC Spectrum, Posttraumatic, and Dissociative Disorder Work Group, four primary areas were determined for this review: the accuracy and utility of the current SP type classification system, the validity of test anxiety as a type of SP, the boundary between agoraphobia and SP, and the reliability and utility of the diagnostic criteria for SP. Developmental issues are addressed within each area. Literature reviews examining academic findings published between 1994 and 2009 were carried out and the results are included herein. The review presents a number of options and preliminary recommendations to be considered for DSM-V. All of these recommendations should be considered tentative as they await the field trials and expert consensus necessary prior to their inclusion in the DSM-V. The present review also reveals a great need for future research in the area of SP and directions for such research is provided. Depression and Anxiety, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.