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Culture and Psychiatric Evaluation: Operationalizing Cultural Formulation for DSM-5

The Outline for Cultural Formulation (OCF) introduced with DSM-IV provided a framework for clinicians to organize cultural information relevant to diagnostic assessment and treatment planning. However, use of the OCF has been inconsistent, raising questions about the need for guidance on implementation, training, and application in diverse settings. To address this need, DSM-5 introduced a cultural formulation interview (CFI) that operationalizes the process of data collection for the OCF. The CFI includes patient and informant versions and 12 supplementary modules addressing specific domains of the OCF. This article summarizes the literature reviews and analyses of experience with the OCF conducted by the DSM-5 Cross-Cultural Issues Subgroup (DCCIS) that informed the development of the CFI. We review the history and contents of the DSM-IV OCF, its use in training programs, and previous attempts to render it operational through questionnaires, protocols, and semi-structured interview formats. Results of research based on the OCF are discussed. For each domain of the OCF, we summarize findings from the DCCIS that led to content revision and operationalization in the CFI. The conclusion discusses training and implementation issues essential to service delivery.