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Ann Fam Med. 2010 Mar-Apr;8(2):160-9. doi: 10.1370/afm.1092.

Feasibility and diagnostic validity of the M-3 checklist: a brief, self-rated screen for depressive, bipolar, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorders in primary care.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599-7160, USA.



Mood and anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric conditions seen in primary care, yet they remain underdetected and undertreated. Screening tools can improve detection, but available instruments are limited by the number of disorders assessed. We wanted to assess the feasibility and diagnostic validity of the My Mood Monitor (M-3) checklist, a new, 1-page, patient-rated, 27-item tool developed to screen for multiple psychiatric disorders in primary care.


We enrolled a sample of 647 consecutive participants aged 18 years and older who were seeking primary care at an academic family medicine clinic between July 2007 and February 2008. We used a 2-step scoring procedure to make screening more efficient. The main outcomes measured were the sensitivity and specificity of the M-3 for major depression, bipolar disorder, any anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a specific type of anxiety disorder. Using a split sample technique, analysis proceeded from determination of optimal screening thresholds to assessment of the psychometric properties of the self-report instrument using the determined thresholds. We used the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview as the diagnostic standard. Feasibility was assessed with patient and physician exit questionnaires.


The depression module had a sensitivity of 0.84 and a specificity of 0.80. The bipolar module had a sensitivity of 0.88, and a specificity of 0.70. The anxiety module had a sensitivity of 0.82 and a specificity of 0.78, and the PTSD module had a sensitivity of 0.88 and a specificity of 0.76. As a screen for any psychiatric disorder, sensitivity was 0.83 and specificity was 0.76. Patients took less than 5 minutes to complete the M-3 in the waiting room, and less than 1% reported not having time to complete it. Eighty-three percent of clinicians reviewed the checklist in 30 or fewer seconds, and 80% thought it was helpful in reviewing patients' emotional health.


The M-3 demonstrates utility as a valid, efficient, and feasible tool for screening multiple common psychiatric illnesses, including bipolar disorder and PTSD, in primary care. Its diagnostic accuracy equals that of currently used single-disorder screens and has the additional benefit of being combined into a 1-page tool. The M-3 potentially can reduce missed psychiatric diagnoses and facilitate proper treatment of identified cases.

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