Psychiatric screening in general practice. A controlled trial

Lancet. 1976 Mar 20;1(7960):605-8. doi: 10.1016/s0140-6736(76)90415-3.


This study reports the efficacy of the General Health Questionnaire (G.H.Q.) in the secondary prevention of minor psychiatric illness in a primary-care setting. 1093 consecutive attenders at a general practitioner's surgery were screened for minor psychiatric disorder using the G.H.Q. 32% were found to have a conspicuous psychiatric disorder and a further 11% had a hidden psychiatric disorder. The group with hidden disorders were randomly assigned to a treated index group and an untreated control group. The effects of case detection and treatment were beneficial and immediate, with the duration of episode of the disorder being much shorter for patients whose disorder was recognised by the general practitioner. For patients with more severe disorders there are significant differences still demonstrable between the groups one year later; but patients with mild disorders do equally well, some recovering spontaneously but others becoming manifest to the general practitioner over the next year and so receiving treatment. The "detected" group of patients increased their consultations for emotional complaints over the next year, but their total consultation-rate was not increased.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • England
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Family Practice*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Mass Screening
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Mental Disorders / therapy
  • Personality Assessment
  • Primary Health Care
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors