Systematic Screening is Essential to Identify the Full Range of Patient Needs


Systematic screening is essential to identify the full range of patient needs, particularly, ones that are difficult to articulate such as mental health issues.  Debbie Cohen, PhD, a qualitative researcher at Oregon Health and Science University’s Family Medicine Department, discusses the advantages of standardized mental health screening within integrated primary care.  Although cultural shifts within healthcare have primed patients to become more cognizant of regular preventative screenings (e.g. mammograms, colonoscopies), patients are often reluctant to discuss depressive or anxiety symptoms due to stigma.  Mental health screenings serve several primary purposes within integrated practices: identification and normalization of patients’ mental health needs and a routinized, consistent, and brief method of measurement and assessment for medical professionals to perform within the confines of their busy workday.  Systematic screening directly contributes to improved treatment referral and therefore, patient satisfaction and outcomes.

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