Three tests designed for use in the primary-care setting can help screen patients for common psychiatric disorders and cognitive impairment.

The My Mood Monitor (M-3) checklist is a 27-item questionnaire designed to identify depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder. In 647 primary-care patients, M-3 proved to be an effective means of identifying the four conditions. Patients completed the test in fewer than five minutes in the waiting room, and most clinicians (83%) took no more than 30 seconds to review the checklist (Ann Fam Med. 2010;8:160-169).

The computerized self-test (CST) is intended for early detection of Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment. In a trial of 215 subjects, the CST accurately identified 96% of the cognitively impaired individuals. By way of comparison, the Mini-Mental Status Examination accurately classified 71% of such individuals.

“This interactive Internet-based cognitive screening tool may aid in early detection of cognitive impairment in the primary-care setting,” concluded the test developers (J Alzheimers Dis. 2010;20:185-195).

The Self-Administered Gerocognitive Examination (SAGE) was created as an early-screening tool for individuals with mild thinking and memory impairments (Alzheimer Dis Assoc Disord. 2010;24:64-71). The developers noted that people are not diagnosed with cognitive problems early enough, when medications are of the most benefit. The SAGE is described as a practical tool for a busy primary-care office; it is available to health-care personnel free of charge.