BACKGROUND Since 1977 a literature has grown describing examples of factitious illness by proxy (FIP).
METHOD The literature in English was searched using MEDLINE and supplemented by a manual search. Extracted data focused on terminology of a spectrum of behaviours, clinical features and psychopathology of perpetrators.
RESULTS There has been difficulty with the use of terminology and classification of psychiatric disorders.
CONCLUSIONS The spectrum of FIP is wide. Suggestions are made for the use of terminology and classification when FIP is identified.