A magazine for friends of the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

Mental Health Screen Can Assess CV Risk


A study led by Brown researchers found that a brief questionnaire for psychological distress can be an efficient way to assess patient risk for cardiovascular disease.

Screening for psychological distress can be an effective way to assess a patient’s risk for cardiovascular disease, a new study shows. What’s more, the researchers note, the screening process can be easy—even for health care providers without significant psychology training—and efficient.

In a meta-analysis that included more than 600,000 patients across 28 studies, the researchers determined that psychological distress assessed with brief questionnaires was associated with nearly a 30 percent greater risk of cardiovascular disease. Their results were published in the Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and Prevention.

Study co-author Carly Goldstein, PhD, an assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior (research) at The Warren Alpert Medical School, says the results indicate that clinicians can provide a brief mental health questionnaire to a patient during a visit and, based on the self-reported answers, get a better idea of not only that patient’s mental health risks, but also their associated risk for cardiovascular disease.

The clinician can then choose to make recommendations to the patient around improving their mental health to help them improve their cardiovascular health, Goldstein says.

“This analysis shows that a patient’s psychological distress is directly associated with their cardiovascular risk, providing opportunities for clinicians to help a patient manage their risks over time, for better overall health, right at the point of care,” she says.


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