Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 11, Issue 7, pp 426–430

Brief screens for mental disorders in primary care

  • Andrew C. Leon
  • Mark Olfson
  • Myrna M. Weissman
  • Laura Portera
  • Bruce H. Fireman
  • Robert S. Blacklow
  • Christina Hoven
  • W. Eugene Broadhead
Brief Reports


We evaluated a set of diagnostic screens for mental disorders in primary care. A self-administered screening questionnaire containing 26 items testing for multiple mental disorders was completed by 1,001 patients. Brief diagnostic modules, structured for psychiatric diagnoses, were subsequently administered to each patient by a research nurse. Operating characteristics of the screens were as follows: alcohol dependence (sensitivity [SE] 0.75; positive predictive value [PPV] 0.58; [κ] 0.63), drug dependence (SE 0.50; PPV 0.50; κ 0.50), generalized anxiety disorder (SE 0.74; PPV 0.44; κ 0.44), major depressive disorder (SE 0.71; PPV 0.52; κ 0.50), obsessive compulsive disorder (SE 0.71; PPV 0.15; κ 0.21), and panic disorder (SE 0.71; PPV 0.43; κ 0.48). Other chance-corrected measures of agreement are also reported, and criterion validity of the screens is examined. The results provide evidence that the screens discriminate between patients with symptomatology meeting established diagnostic criteria and those without. They detected previously unrecognized cases in this study and may prove to be valuable tools for psychiatric diagnosis in primary care.

Key words

mental disorders diagnostic screens primary care brief screens operating characteristics 


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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew C. Leon
    • 6
  • Mark Olfson
    • 1
  • Myrna M. Weissman
    • 1
  • Laura Portera
    • 6
  • Bruce H. Fireman
    • 2
  • Robert S. Blacklow
    • 3
  • Christina Hoven
    • 4
  • W. Eugene Broadhead
    • 5
  1. 1.College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University and New York State Psychiatric InstituteNew York
  2. 2.Kaiser PermanenteOakland
  3. 3.Northeastern Ohio Universities College of MedicineRootstown
  4. 4.Duke University Medical CenterDurham
  5. 5.Danville (VA) Regional HospitalUSA
  6. 6.Department of Psychiatry, Box 147Cornell University Medical CollegeNew York

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