In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, Mental and Behavioural Disorders Chapter

  • Introduction
  • Special Journal Issues
  • ICD History and Context
  • Cross-Cultural Applicability

Psychology International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, Mental and Behavioural Disorders Chapter
Jared Keeley
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 October 2023
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199828340-0191


The International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD) is a codified list of health conditions produced by the World Health Organization (WHO). The purposes of the ICD include, among many others, providing a consensual set of definitions for health conditions used to track disease burden, facilitating access to services, and defining what conditions qualify for subsidized care. The Mental and Behavioural Disorders (MBD) chapter of the ICD has been included since its 6th edition. The eleventh edition was approved in May 2019 with the expectation that countries would start reporting health statistics using it starting in January 2022. Countries may adopt their own timeline for transitioning to the ICD-11, and many still use the ICD-10 as of 2023. The ICD-10 comes in three versions: the Clinical Descriptions and Diagnostic Guidelines are flexibly worded descriptions of all categories intended for mental health practitioners; the Primary Care version is a simplified list of the most important categories for primary care workers; and the Research version has stricter, more operationally defined definitions for research. The ICD-11 will have the same three versions, although the research version may look substantially different from ICD-10’s format because it will be published as a structured interview called the Structured Clinical Interview for ICD-11 (SCII-11); it will be asynchronously released after the other two versions. Relative to other diagnostic classifications, the ICD places a strong focus on cross-cultural applicability and practicality, given that it must be applied in diverse health contexts and world regions.

Special Journal Issues

Before addressing specific sources in the ICD History and Context, Field Trials, Evidence Review for Diagnostic Areas, and Cross-Cultural Applicability sections, this section reviews special issues of journals devoted to the ICD. As such, these are good sources for quickly identifying a wide range of topics relevant to the ICD. Some of the individual articles from these special issues are included in the bibliography below, but others are still worth identifying and reading, so these special issues are included here as orienting materials. Readers should start with Gureje, et al. 2012 and Roberts 2010, as both of these special issues provide context about the rationale for the ICD-11 development. The other special issues have more focused topics. Horton 2015 is an overview of changes to the Personality Disorders, which represents one of the largest conceptual shifts in the ICD-11. Bach, et al. 2021 includes additional empirical evidence regarding the new Personality Disorders model. Maj and Reed 2012 and Stein, et al. 2014 include detailed descriptions of proposals for individual diagnoses. Khoury, et al. 2012; Trémine 2011; and Sharan and Keeley 2018 present cross-cultural considerations surrounding the ICD-11, addressing the Arab world, French speakers, and Southeast Asia, respectively.

  • Bach, B., A. Somma, and J. W. Keeley, eds. 2021. Special issue: ICD-11 personality disorders; Utility and implications of the new model. Frontiers in Psychiatry.

    DOI: 10.3389/978-2-88974-008-6

    This special issue includes empirical and conceptual developments regarding the utility of the new ICD-11 personality disorders model following its release. The articles represent a range of evidence supporting the new model, including its relationship with other existing models like the Alternative Model of Personality Disorder (AMPD) in DSM-5.

  • Gureje, O., G. M. Reed, and M. First, eds. 2012. Special Issue: Revising the classifications of mental and behavioural disorders: Rationale and process. International Review of Psychiatry 24.6: 511–612.

    This special issue covers both broad conceptual issues regarding the classification of mental disorders and specific reviews of areas of psychopathology. The authors of the articles were all intimately involved with the ICD revision process, and thus represent expert opinion from those involved in its development.

  • Horton, R., ed. 2015. Special Issue: Series on personality disorder. Lancet 385.9969: 717–743.

    This special issue contains a series of articles on personality disorder, which has been one of the most controversial topics in the classification of psychopathology.

  • Khoury, B., N. Loza, and G. M. Reed, eds. 2012. Special Issue: Supplement on ICD-11. Arab Journal of Psychiatry 23.Supp. 1: 1–50.

    This special issue of the Arab Journal of Psychiatry includes a set of articles on the applicability of ICD mental disorders to the Arab region, including special problems and concerns. It is an excellent source for information on cross-cultural applicability (see also Cross-Cultural Applicability).

  • Maj, M., and G. M. Reed, eds. 2012. Special Issue: The ICD-11 classification of mood and anxiety disorders: Background and options. World Psychiatry 11.Supp. 1.

    This special issue comes from the official journal of the World Psychiatric Association, and thus is available in several languages. It covers proposals and general issues in the classification of mood and Anxiety Disorders. Many of the articles are summaries of the rationale for ICD-11 proposals coming from the leader of that working group.

  • Roberts, M. C., ed. 2010. Improving clinical utility in the classification of mental and behavioral disorders: Revisions to the ICD and the DSM. Professional Psychology Research and Practice 41.6: 457–501.

    DOI: 10.1037/a0021701

    This special section, which represents the first six articles of the issue, focused on the definition and role of clinical utility in the classification of mental disorders. The works included in it represent the best and most thoughtful collection of papers on clinical utility to date.

  • Sharan, P., and J. W. Keeley, eds. 2018. Special issue: The implementation of ICD-11 from Southeast Asian perspectives. Indian Journal of Social Psychiatry 34.Supp. 1: S1–S90.

    This special issue addresses issues relevant to the Southeast Asian region regarding mental disorders in the ICD-11. Articles address the cultural applicability of most diagnostic areas.

  • Stein, D. J., L. F. Fontenelle, and G. M. Reed, eds. 2014. Special Issue: Obsessive-compulsive and related disorders in ICD-11: Rationale and evidence. Revista Brasileira de Psiquiatria 36.Supp. 1: S1–S68.

    DOI: 10.1590/1516-4446-2014-1531

    This special issue, published in both English and Portuguese, addresses the relatively robust change of creating a separate group of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders. Papers in this supplement outline the rationale for the group as well as the evidence for the inclusion of individual disorders within the group.

  • Trémine, T., ed. 2011. Special Issue: Troubles schizophréniques et délirants. L’Information Psychiatrique 87.3: 169–228.

    The first of three French language special issues on the classification of mental disorders intended to inform ICD-11 revisions. This issue focused on schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders. It highlights a current controversy in France surrounding the stigma attached to the term “schizophrenia” and understanding the phenomenology of the disorder from the point of view of the person affected.

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