Aims: To develop a short screening tool for lifestyle and mental-health risk factors that adults can self-administer, and to determine acceptability and feasibility of use of this tool in primary care settings.
Methods: The multi-item tool was designed to screen patients in rural and urban New Zealand general practices for smoking, alcohol and drug misuse, problem gambling, depression, anxiety, abuse, anger, sedentary lifestyle, and weight issues. Patients were offered help for identified risk factors. Fifty consecutive adult patients per practice (n=2,543) were recruited to participate from 20 randomly-selected urban general practitioners; 20 general practice nurses and 11 rural general practitioners.
Results: Patients came from diverse ethnic, geographical, and socioeconomic backgrounds. The sample prevalence of positive responses identified ranged from 2.8% (gambling) to 42.7% (depression). The number of patients requesting immediate assistance with these responses (0.5 to 13.5%) did not overwhelm clinicians. The tool was well accepted by patients, with few objections to specific questions (0.1-0.8%). Most practitioners stated they will use the screening tool once available.
Conclusions: Screening for lifestyle and mental health risk factors is becoming increasingly important in primary health care. This screening tool was acceptable to patients and was not considered overly burdensome by practitioners.