Measuring patient distress in primary care

  • Seelert K
  • Hill R
  • Rigdon M
 et al. 
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BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: This study examined the psychometric properties of a brief, easily administered mental health screening instrument, the Outcome Questionnaire Short Form (OQ-10), for use in primary care. The OQ-10 provides information to the primary care provider about patient distress and well-being and highlights areas that may require additional exploration and/or intervention. METHODS: The OQ-10 was administered to 292 outpatients in a family practice clinic, along with a standardized measure of functional status and mental health, the Duke Health Profile (DUKE). RESULTS: The patients' mean age was 37.09 years, and 83% were Caucasian. OQ-10 scores were correlated with all subscales of the DUKE. A principal components analysis of the OQ-10 items revealed two factors: psychological well-being and psychological distress. Well-being was positively related to self-reported health, while distress was not. A subsequent specificity and sensitivity analysis was performed on the OQ-10 total score, and this provided preliminary evidence that the OQ-10 may be useful in gauging the psychological state of patients in primary care. CONCLUSIONS: The OQ-10 can be used as a brief screening tool for patient psychological distress in primary care. The OQ-10 items reflect distress and well-being, which may be useful to physicians in treating the range of psychological problems seen in primary care settings.

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  • Karen Rothballer Seelert

  • Robert D. Hill

  • Michael A. Rigdon

  • Elizabeth Schwenzfeier

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