Academic Psychiatry

, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 176–179 | Cite as

The Limited Role of Expert Guidelines in Teaching Psychopharmacology




To consider the limited usefulness of expert guidelines for teaching psychopharmacology.


Potential problems using expert guidelines for teaching psychopharmacology are reviewed.


Expert guidelines are an important contribution to the growth of evidence-based psychiatry. As such, they may also be used to teach fundamentals of psychopharmacology. Their use as teaching materials may be limited by their reliance on Diagnostic and Statistical manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) diagnoses, especially for patients with unclear or complicated diagnosing pictures. Biases may also exist in their construction and the data from which they are derived. Other problems include overemphasis on newly released medications and the potential for teaching a “cookbook” approach to psychopharmacology treatment, limiting the development of the “art” of psychopharmacology practice.


Although expert guidelines may be a useful tool for teaching psychopharmacology, they also may limit the teaching of psychopharmacology. Comprehensive psychopharmacology training programs that use expert guidelines as teaching tools should emphasize critical reading of clinical trials literature and teaching the use of all psychotropic drugs. Training in the art of psychopharmacology including, nonpharmacological aspects of drug treatment, should also be included.


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© Academic Psychiatry 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA

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