Importance of Multi-disorder Assessment Tools
The Mind Screen has been developed to facilitate early intervention and solve the biggest problem faced by practitioners today - a lack of time.
When Family Physicians conduct a physical health assessment they direct their enquiry in a comprehensive way reviewing patient symptoms to see if their condition is cardiovascular, endocrine, respiratory, etc and they will also ask questions about a patient's past and family history and medication history. This is then supplemented by relevant investigations such as blood tests, x-rays etc. Mental health assessment should be equally comprehensive, but it isn't.
Family Physicians in particular are under increasing pressure to see large numbers of patients every day and consultations are getting shorter and shorter. Psychologists are also under increasing pressure to achieve results faster with fewer Government funded consulatations available to them. Because of these time pressures many Family Physicians, psychologists and even psychiatrists rush the assessment process and will try to squeeze a behavioral health assessment into a short consultation using basic single disorder assessment tools (if they use an outcome tool at all).
The problem with using single disorder assessment tools is that by definition they do no more than confirm a practitioner’s preconception about what the practitioner thinks the issue may be. This is akin to a Family Physician referring their patients to a pathology center to run a single blood test to confirm their view of one possible condition. That would be unheard of - they will always run multiple tests to confirm or rule out particular diagnoses (plural!).
Furthermore, most people with a behavioral health condition present with multiple co-morbid behavioral health conditions so a multi-disorder assessment tool will only every pick up on one of their conditions. In short, single disorder tools are completedly unsuited for conducting a thorough behavioral health assessment.
Using single disorder tools or not using an assessment tool at all in a rushed environment leads to clinical diagnoses being made based on limited and incomplete information. Single disorder assessment is leading to large numbers of patients not being assessed properly, diagnosed accurately, treated appropriately and managed effectively.
In 1998, only 38% of people in Australia with a treatable behavioral health condition were receiving treatment. More than 10 years on, and hundreds of millions of dollars poured into two major Australian Government Funded behavioral health initiatives later, even fewer Australians (35%) who need it are receiving treatment. Why, because we're not fixing the systemic problem of poor assessment.
The Mind Screen has the potential to improve the quality of assessment nationwide. According to Harvard Medical School, the Mind Screen is “…the only multi-disorder clinical psychiatric online self-assessment tool developed specifically for family physicians and psychologists that is available today. Its innovative process is a paradigm shift in the way behavioral health issues are assessed and will significantly improve the quality of diagnosis, treatment and patient management by primary care practitioners. …if implemented widely, Mind Screen can ... provide a global gold standard in early detection and intervention for behavioral health difficulties.”
Multi-disorder assessment tools should be considered a ‘requirement’ in increasing the chances of arriving at an accurate clinical diagnosis. It is vital that this important assessment step in early intervention, is thorough and comprehensive. Fortunately, practitioners are moving toward multi-disorder tools (see Kupfer et al, Cerebrum Magazine, October 13 2009, Dana Foundation).
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