Depression Can Be Diagnosed By Waiting Room Test


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According to a new study in General Hospital Psychiatry, people can be easily screened for anxiety and depression while they are waiting for care in the hospital.

Researchers at King's College London University created a questionnaire that was given to patients at three London hospitals, using a touchscreen tablet. They targeted specialty services that included: rheumatology, limb reconstruction, hepatitis C, psoriasis, congenital heart disease, and chronic pain. The questions were composed of general physical health, depression, and behavioral health. Once the questionnaire was complete, the results were immediately sent to the patients' health care provider for further discussion.

"The system is extremely effective at providing clinicians with real-time information about their patients," Faith Matcham, a doctoral student at King's College, said. "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 created to help determine the prevalence of depression and anxiety when a patient has a certain health problem. The results showed that 6.6 percent of patients with congenital heart disease, and 60.9 percent of patients with chronic pain, suffered from depression. "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," Matcham explained.

Philip R. Muskin, M.D., professor at Columbia University Medical Center and chair of the American Psychiatric Association's scientific program committee explains that the study was successful because the patients were willing to do it. "It engages the people who are most important, the patient and doctor, with an instrument that can tell them that something is going on."

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