Screening for psychiatric and substance abuse disorders in clinical practice

Daniel E. Ford, Douglas B. Kamerow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Psychiatric disorders, particularly depression and alcohol abuse, represent a large burden of illness to the society. Many individuals with these disorders receive all of their care from health care providers who are not mental health specialists. There is evidence that non-psychiatric physicians frequently do not recognize these disorders in their patients. Screening questionnaires have been introduced to improve detection of these patients. Several studies have found that these screening questionnaires can increase detection rates, but no important impact on patient outcomes has been demonstrated. This review article outlines several reasons why it has been difficult to discern improvement in patient outcomes: inadequate study design, insufficient physician education, interdependence of psychiatric and medical conditions, and vague treatment guidelines. Practical use of the current psychiatric screening questionnaires and key areas for further investigation are considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S37-S41
JournalJournal of general internal medicine
Issue number2 Supplement
StatePublished - Sep 1 1990


  • alcohol abuse
  • mental disorders
  • screening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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