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Concordances and discrepancies between ICD-10 and DSM-IV criteria for anxiety disorders in childhood and adolescence

Carmen Adornetto1, Andrea Suppiger2, Tina In-Albon3, Murielle Neuschwander4 and Silvia Schneider4*

Author Affiliations

1 Child- and Adolescent Psychiatry, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland

2 Department of Psychology, Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland

3 Universität Koblenz-Landau, Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, Koblenz-Landau, Germany

4 Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, Universitätsstraße 150, Bochum, 44780, Germany

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Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health 2012, 6:40  doi:10.1186/1753-2000-6-40

Published: 26 December 2012



Mental disorders are classified by two major nosological systems, the ICD-10 and the DSM-IV-TR, consisting of different diagnostic criteria. The present study investigated the diagnostic concordance between the two systems for anxiety disorders in childhood and adolescence, in particular for separation anxiety disorder (SAD), specific phobia, social phobia, and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).


A structured clinical interview, the Kinder-DIPS, was administered to 210 children and 258 parents. The percentage of agreement, kappa, and Yule’s Y coefficients were calculated for all diagnoses. Specific criteria causing discrepancies between the two classification systems were identified.


DSM-IV-TR consistently classified more children than ICD-10 with an anxiety disorder, with a higher concordance between DSM-IV-TR and the ICD-10 child section (F9) than with the adult section (F4) of the ICD-10. This result was found for all four investigated anxiety disorders. The results revealed low to high levels of concordance and poor to good agreement between the classification systems, depending on the anxiety disorder.


The two classification systems identify different children with an anxiety disorder. However, it remains an open question, whether the research results can be generalized to clinical practice since DSM-IV-TR is mainly used in research while ICD-10 is widely established in clinical practice in Europe. Therefore, the population investigated by the DSM (research population) is not identical with the population examined using the ICD (clinical population).

ICD-10; DSM-IV-TR; Separation anxiety disorder; Specific phobia; Social phobia; Generalized anxiety disorder; Diagnostic criteria