Quick Screening on Electronic Pad in Waiting Room
Tells Doctor if Patient Depressed
Seniors may need to brush up on their iPad skills if
new device becomes popular tool for screening patients in waiting rooms
By Valerie DeBenedette,
HBNS Contributing Writer
Feb. 25, 2014 A quick screening on a electronic
pad in the doctors waiting room appears to have the ability to easily
recognize depression and anxiety in patients, who were actually there to
visit the physician about another ailment. The results can be sent
directly to the waiting doctor for immediate action.
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 heart disease 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 health care provider, 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 published in General Hospital
Psychiatry 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
Prevalence of probable depression ranged from 6.6
percent in patients with congenital heart disease to 60.9 percent in
patients with chronic pain. Prevalence of probable anxiety ranged from
11.4 percent in patients with congenital heart disease 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
Screening for depression and anxiety in general
medicine is important because mental health issues 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 mental health screening as part of regular health care,
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."
>> Research Source: General Hospital Psychiatry
is a peer-reviewed research journal published bimonthly by Elsevier Inc.
>> News Source: Health Behavior News Service, part
of the Center for Advancing Health, http://cfah.org.
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