Bmj Usa: Editor's Choice

Perturbations in the ergonomics of primary care

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: (Published 19 November 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:E18

This article originally appeared in BMJ USA

At a recent meeting, the chief of psychiatry at my institution was explaining why it is difficult to get primary care physicians to screen their patients for depression. One of the reasons, he said, is that it creates a “perturbation in the ergonomics of the primary care visit.” Primary care physicians have 16 to 18 minutes for the average patient encounter. Asking the patient a question designed to screen for depression—eg, “Have you been bothered recently by feeling down, depressed, or hopeless?”—may elicit a lengthy response, or it may reveal a serious psychosocial problem …

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