Tags: Depression | google | depression | screening

Should Google Offer Depression Screening?

Should Google Offer Depression Screening?
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By    |   Thursday, 14 September 2017 03:09 PM

Several influential psychiatrists are calling on Google to offer a Web-based depression screening test that could speed diagnoses and treatment of the estimated one in five Americans who experience the mental-health condition in their lifetime.

In the current issue of the British Medical Journal BMJ, American psychiatrist Dr. Ken Duckworth says providing a screening test to people who are already seeking information online “could raise awareness to improve identification and treatment.”

He, and other mental-health experts, argue that it would be helpful if a Google search for “Am I Depressed?” automatically offered a link to the patient health questionnaire (PHQ-9) test — a standard screening tool used by doctors to monitor the severity of depression and response to treatment.

Additional online links to materials from the National Alliance on Mental Illness and telephone helplines might be offered with test results for people with higher scores.

Duckworth notes that this is not meant to replace clinical screening, but could be a critical and easy starting point to offer help to those in need who might not seek more conventional therapy.

“It is intended to prompt informed conversations with clinical professionals and to suggest potentially helpful resources,” he said.

“Increasing the motivated public’s understanding of this validated screening tool could help to empower patients. Informed people may have a better chance of getting the help they may need.”

But not everyone is convinced the idea is a good one. Simon Gilbody, a clinician and professor of psychological medicine at the University of York U.K., raises concerns over inadequate treatment resources to meet demand and assurances about privacy and misuse of data.

“There are reasons to be concerned that data generated by a depression screening program might be used to market antidepressants,” he says.

David Gilbert, director of InHealth Associates, has taken a middle-ground in the debate. He notes that an online PHQ-9 test could pave the way for a more meaningful diagnosis, as long as it is viewed as a first step and not a conclusive diagnosis.

The idea has hope, he says, but says mental health professionals need to be brought in as equal partners with corporations like Google, so that decisions are made together.

“Only then will online tools be a key that unlocks sense making, choice, and control,” Gilbert says.

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Health-News
Psychiatrists are calling on Google to offer a Web-based depression screening test that could speed diagnoses and treatment of the estimated one in five Americans who experience the mental-health condition.
google, depression, screening
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2017-09-14
Thursday, 14 September 2017 03:09 PM
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