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The development of a research agenda for substance use disorders diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition (DSM-V)


John B. Saunders, Professor of Alcohol and Drug Studies, School of Medicine, University of Queensland, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, Herston, Queensland 4029, Australia. E-mail:


Aims  This paper describes the background to the establishment of the Substance Use Disorders Workgroup, which was charged with developing the research agenda for the development of the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). It summarizes 18 articles that were commissioned to inform that process.

Methods  A preliminary list of research topics, developed at the DSM-V Launch Conference in 2004, led to the identification of subjects that were subject to formal presentations and detailed discussion at the Substance Use Disorders Conference in February 2005.

Results  The 18 articles presented in this supplement examine: (1) categorical versus dimensional diagnoses; (2) the neurobiological basis of substance use disorders; (3) social and cultural perspectives; (4) the crosswalk between DSM-IV and the International Classification of Diseases Tenth Revision (ICD-10); (5) comorbidity of substance use disorders and mental health disorders; (6) subtypes of disorders; (7) issues in adolescence; (8) substance-specific criteria; (9) the place of non-substance addictive disorders; and (10) the available research resources.

Conclusions  In the final paper a broadly based research agenda for the development of diagnostic concepts and criteria for substance use disorders is presented.