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Lancet. 1984 Jan 7;1(8367):33-5.

The usefulness of screening for mental illness.


The study assessed the effect of screening for mental disorder by means of the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ) on the rate of detection of mental disorder by fourteen physicians in a primary-care clinic. After completing the GHQ, patients were randomised into control (722 patients) and experimental (730 patients) groups. GHQ results of the experimental group were made available to the physicians; those of the control group were not. Sociodemographic factors influenced the physicians' rate of diagnosis of mental disorders (rates were lower for men, students, and patients with at least a partial college education than in subjects who had a low income, less than 7 years of school, or were widowed) but there was no difference between control and experimental groups (16.8% vs 16.0%). Among patients with a prior diagnosis of a mental disorder, twice as many were found to have mental disorders by the physicians as by the GHQ (70% vs 33%).

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