A one-page 27-item questionnaire available online accurately identified people with a variety of psychological disorders, according a study published in the March/April issue of the Annals of Family Medicine and reported by Newswise.

Several years ago, mental health experts developed the My Mood Monitor online questionnaire. The survey tool was designed to identify people with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

To determine the questionnaire’s accuracy, Bradley Gaynes, MD, MPH, from the University of North Carolina (UNC) Chapel Hill School of Medicine, and his colleagues recruited 647 adults 18 and older who sought care at the UNC Family Medicine Center between June 2007 and February 2008. Gaynes and his team had each person fill out a paper version of the questionnaire while waiting to see a provider. The checklist was given to the person’s doctor, who used it as a basis for discussing a study participant’s emotional well-being. People were interviewed within 30 days after their initial appointment at the clinic and assigned a diagnosis.

The questionnaire performed well, accurately identifying 83 percent of the participants who were diagnosed with a psychological disorder in general, and accurately identifying the specific disorder with which the participant was ultimately diagnosed 76 percent of the time.

“About one in 10 Americans who suffer from depression and anxiety-related mental health disorders never receives treatment because they don’t understand what’s wrong, and when they go to their family doctor these treatable illnesses are too often missed,” Gaynes says. “For these millions of people and their primary care providers, the M-3 screener is a tremendously helpful resource.”

Gaynes says he and his team are studying how well the survey helps patients self-monitor their mood and well-being over time.