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Soc Sci Med. 2012 Jan;74(2):143-9. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.08.043. Epub 2011 Nov 20.

Beyond symptoms: defining primary care mental health clinical assessment priorities, content and process.

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  • 1Integrate Place, Queensland, Australia.


The assessment of undifferentiated psychological distress is a daily aspect of primary care practice. Primary care practitioners' underlying values influence the priorities, process and content of assessment. Currently there is a lack of definition of these values in primary care clinical mental health assessment. This paper presents the case for adopting the philosophical values and principles of holistic transdisciplinary generalism to influence practice worldwide. Furthermore, it raises awareness of current constraints on practice, including an overreliance on the psychiatric paradigm of care and resulting criteria-based diagnoses. Finally, the paper seeks to promote discussion among primary care practitioners and researchers globally about how to define primary care clinical mental health assessment priorities, process and content.

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