Simple waiting room test can help diagnose depression and anxiety

February 26, 2014 by Valerie Debenedette
Simple waiting room test can help diagnose depression and anxiety

A new study in General Hospital Psychiatry finds patients visiting the hospital for a variety of ailments can be easily screened for depression and anxiety as they wait for care, information that can then be sent immediately to their doctor to address.

Researchers at King's College London University piloted an electronic questionnaire with patients in six specialty services in three London hospitals: rheumatology, limb reconstruction, hepatitis C, psoriasis, congenital and chronic pain. Patients were asked to complete questions on a wireless touch-screen device while in the waiting room. The test included questions about depression and anxiety, as well as physical health outcomes and health behaviors. Results were immediately transmitted to the , who could then discuss them with the patient during the visit.

"The system is extremely effective at providing clinicians with real-time information about their patients," said Faith Matcham, a doctoral student at the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College, London. "It makes effective use of waiting room time, and provides useful, usable information in a format which is easy for non-mental health professionals to interpret and act upon."

The study was done primarily to test the use of the device, which is part of a London-based initiative to facilitate integrated care, but also allowed researchers to evaluate the prevalence of depression and anxiety. Prevalence of probable depression ranged from 6.6 percent in patients with congenital heart disease to 60.9 percent in patients with . Prevalence of probable anxiety ranged from 11.4 percent in patients with to 25.1 percent in rheumatology patients.

The different rates prevalence of possible depression and anxiety underscores the complex interaction between physical and mental health, Matcham added. "It really highlighted to us that no two services could be handled in the same way; each is seeing a different type of patient, with different needs, in very different environments."

Screening for depression and anxiety in general medicine is important because factor into cardiovascular disease and other conditions, said Philip R. Muskin, M.D., professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City and chair of the American Psychiatric Association's scientific program committee. Several states, including New York, are pushing for more screening as part of regular care, he noted.

This system used at the London hospitals appears to be effective because patients accepted it, Muskin said. "It engages the people who are most important, the patient and doctor, with an instrument that can tell them that something is going on."

Explore further: Depressed girls suffer the most

More information: Rayner L, Matcham F, Hutton J, et al: "Embedding integrated mental health assessment and management in general hospital settings: feasibility, acceptability and the prevalence of common mental disorder." Gen Hosp Psych. 2014.

Related Stories

Depressed girls suffer the most

February 12, 2014
Seven out of 10 adolescents with mental health problems also suffer from chronic physical pain. Depressed girls suffer the most.

Stopping smoking linked to improved mental health

February 13, 2014
The researchers say the effect sizes are equal or larger than those of antidepressant treatment for mood and anxiety disorders.

Stigma 'key deterrent' in accessing mental health care

February 25, 2014
Mental health stigma is a key factor preventing people from accessing the care they need, according to new research from King's College London.

Anxiety, depression common in adults with arthritis

July 9, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Anxiety and depression are both common among U.S. adults with arthritis, with anxiety found more often than depression, according to a study published in the July issue of Arthritis Care & Research.

Chronic pain sufferers likely to have anxiety

May 15, 2013
Patients coping with chronic pain should also be evaluated for anxiety disorders, according to new research published in General Hospital Psychiatry.

Better diagnoses yield improved treatment for vets with anxiety

December 6, 2013
Veterans who suffer from anxiety may not get appropriate treatment for want of a specific diagnosis, finds a new study in General Hospital Psychiatry.

Recommended for you

Researchers crack the smile, describing three types by muscle movement

July 27, 2017
The smile may be the most common and flexible expression, used to reveal some emotions, cover others and manage social interactions that have kept communities secure and organized for millennia.

Even babies can tell who's the boss, UW research says

July 27, 2017
The charismatic colleague, the natural leader, the life of the party - all are personal qualities that adults recognize instinctively. These socially dominant types, according to repeated studies, also tend to accomplish ...

Infants know what we like best, study finds

July 27, 2017
Behind the chubby cheeks and bright eyes of babies as young as 8 months lies the smoothly whirring mind of a social statistician, logging our every move and making odds on what a person is most likely to do next, suggests ...

DREAMers at greater risk for mental health distress

July 27, 2017
Immigrants who came to the United States illegally as small children and who meet the requirements of the Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, more commonly known as DREAMers, are at risk for mental health ...

Ketamine for depression encouraging, but questions remain around long-term use

July 27, 2017
A world-first systematic review into the safety of ketamine as a treatment for depression, published in the prestigious Lancet Psychiatry, shows the risks of long-term ketamine treatment remain unclear.

Negativity, be gone—new online tool can retrain your brain

July 27, 2017
Anxiety and depression can have devastating effects on people's lives. In some cases, the mental disorders lead to isolation, poverty and poor physical health, things that often cascade to future generations.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.