The association between depression/anxiety and rheumatologic conditions is well documented at about double the rate of the general population.2 That makes it imperative to routinely assess for mental health concerns in rheumatology patients.
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“What might we learn about our patients that we don’t already know? What impact would this knowledge have on our ability to deliver patient-centered care?” Ms. Westreich said.
What’s the impact of not evaluating patients for mental health issues? Depressed patients may have trouble taking in information. If providers screen for depression and anxiety, they also must know when to collaborate with other specialties for further assessment and treatment.
A diagnostic interview is the gold standard for assessing mental health issues, she said. But screening tools and assessments such as the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) and its short-form two-question assessment tool can give clinicians a better sense of when to refer for a mental health consult. Providers can obtain other shared decision-making resources from the Mayo Clinic Shared Decision Making National Resource Center, the Dartmouth Center for Shared Decision Making and the Minnesota Shared Decision-Making Collaborative.
Larry Beresford is a freelance medical journalist in Oakland, Calif.
- Institute of Medicine (US). Crossing the quality chasm: A new health system for the 21st century. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press (US). 2001.
- Matcham F, Norton S, Scott DL, et al. Symptoms of depression and anxiety predict treatment response and long-term physical health outcomes in rheumatoid arthritis: Secondary analysis of a randomized controlled trial. Rheumatology (Oxford). 2016 Feb;55(2):268–278.