Identifying and screening for psychological and comorbid medical and psychological disorders in medical settings

J Clin Psychol. 2009 Mar;65(3):253-67. doi: 10.1002/jclp.20546.


There is increased attention to the medical and economic consequences of psychological problems comorbid with medical issues. There is also a clear awareness that most psychological problems are assessed and responded to in nonpsychiatric medical settings. This has furthered interest and attention in implementing screening procedures to better identify psychological, behavioral, and substance abuse problems in medical settings. Such interest is taking the form of recommendations from federal government task forces, and the funding of large projects to include screening in medical settings. At the same time there has been further attention to brief, valid, and reliable measures with which to capture psychological comorbidities. However, there have been multiple concerns raised about a variety of issues concerning the utility and effectiveness of such screening procedures and the identification of multiple issues to be considered in screening design. The author outlines and reviews the rationale and concerns about screening, identifies the issues that need to be considered in screening program development, and describes the efforts to develop a screening capacity in a rural family practice.

MeSH terms

  • Comorbidity*
  • Family Practice
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Mass Screening / psychology
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Organizational Case Studies
  • Psychology, Medical*
  • Vermont