Practice Guidelines

APA Revamps Eating Disorder Guideline

The APA announced an updated practice guideline for treatment of patients with eating disorders, which is the first full update since 2006.  The guideline has 16 clinical recommendations related to anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder, including:

  • Screening for the presence of an eating disorder as part of an initial psychiatric evaluation.
  • Conducting comprehensive patient evaluations, including laboratory tests such as electrocardiograms.
  • Formulating patient-centered and culturally sensitive treatment plans.
  • Setting individualized weight goals for patients with anorexia.
  • Treating patients with anorexia, bulimia, or binge-eating disorders with eating disorder–focused psychotherapy.
  • Including family-based therapy as part of a treatment plan for adolescents with anorexia or bulimia.

It also includes information on how to of evaluate patients for avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder.

APA Practice Guidelines for Schizophrenia

The goals of the new evidence-based guideline are to reduce the mortality, morbidity and significant psychosocial and health consequences of this disorder.

Comprehensive Guidelines for Treating PANS/PANDAS

An expert panel of clinicians and researchers published comprehensive guidelines for treatment of Pediatric Acute-Onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANS) and Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infection (PANDAS).  PANS/PANDAS is characterized by an unusually abrupt onset of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) symptoms and/or severe eating restrictions in children, along with secondary behavioral, cognitive, and/or neurological symptoms. This syndrome is believed to result from a range of triggers, though studies have shown that autoimmune problems and/or neuroinflammation drive the illness in most cases.

Accordingly, the treatment guidelines, published in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, are divided into three clinical focus areas:

  1. Psychiatric and behavioral interventions to address obsessive-compulsive symptoms, eating restrictions, anxiety, irritability, and more.
  2. Immunomodulatory therapies that target the neuroinflammation and post-infectious autoimmunity commonly seen in PANS/PANDAS.
  3. Treatment and prevention of the streptococcal and other infections that underlie these neuropsychiatric conditions.

From July 24, 2017 Psychiatric News Alert

Updated Quality Care Measures for Dementia

A joint work group of the APA and the American Academy of Neurology has updated the quality measures for the care of patients with dementia to encourage physicians to disclose the diagnosis to patients and their caregivers. The updated quality care measures were published online in the American Journal of Psychiatry.  A summary is also available.

Guideline on Pharmacologic Treatment for Insomnia

This American Academy of Sleep Medicine clinical practice guideline published in 2017 reflects a comprehensive, evidence-based analysis of individual pharmacotherapy commonly used to treat people experiencing persistent trouble falling asleep and staying asleep.   The guideline offers recommendations on whether clinicians should or should not use specific medications for sleep-onset insomnia and/or sleep maintenance insomnia in adults versus no treatment, based on current published evidence.

Practice Guidelines on the Use of Antipsychotics in Patients with Dementia

In 2016, the APA released evidence-based guidelines on the use of antipsychotics to treat agitation or psychosis in patients with dementia. The guidelines include recommendations for assessment of dementia, development of a comprehensive treatment plan, assessment of the benefits and risks of antipsychotics, and judicious use of antipsychotics, including specifics for dosing, duration and monitoring. See the Executive Summary in the May issue of The American Journal of Psychiatry and the full guideline.

CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain — United States, 2016

This guideline is intended to improve communication between clinicians and patients about the risks and benefits of opioid therapy for chronic pain, improve the safety and effectiveness of pain treatment, and reduce the risks associated with long-term opioid therapy.  The guideline addresses 1) when to initiate or continue opioids for chronic pain; 2) opioid selection, dosage, duration, follow-up, and discontinuation; and 3) assessing risk and addressing harms of opioid use.  The CDC also provided a checklist for prescribing opioids for chronic pain, as well as a website with additional tools to guide clinicians in implementing the recommendations.

In 2016, the American College of Physicians released a clinical practice guideline on the treatment of depression.

Practice Guideline on Opioid Use Disorders

The American Society of Addiction Medicine has a national practice guideline on the use of medications to treat opioid use disorders created in response to the rapid increase in the number of people misusing and overdosing on morphine and other opioids (both prescription and non-prescription).  The guideline provides specific and evidence-based guidance on selecting the best treatments for opioid use disorders. It also discusses the importance of pairing any pharmacological treatment of opioid use disorder with psychosocial treatment and includes recommendations for patient populations with special needs, such as those with comorbid psychiatric disorders.  The APA’s Practice Guideline on Substance Use Disorders also includes a section on managing opioid use disorders.

APA Practice Guidelines for Evaluation of Adults

Published in 2015, these guidelines address nine topics, in the context of an initial psychiatric evaluation: review of psychiatric symptoms, trauma history, and treatment history, substance use assessment, assessment of suicide risk, assessment for risk of aggressive behaviors, assessment of cultural factors, assessment of medical health, quantitative assessment, involvement of the patient in treatment decision making, and documentation of the psychiatric evaluation.  Each guideline suggests topics to include during an initial psychiatric evaluation and provides guidance on enhancing patient care.  The guidelines are available online, as well as for sale in print.  Visit

APA Guideline Watch for Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias

The APA Guideline Watch for the 2007 “Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Patients with Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias”  summarizes new evidence and developments since the publication of the practice guideline.  The new information highlighted in the watch better defines the risks and adverse effects of some medications used in treatment, which will help clinicians make better decisions for individual patients.

For more information on APA practice guidelines please click here.