Acceptability of mental health screening in routine addictions treatment



The objective was to investigate patients’ views on the application of case finding and screening methods for common mental disorders in an addiction treatment service.


Qualitative thematic analysis of semistructured interviews with a purposive sample of 19 participants. Participants took part in diagnostic assessments (Revised Clinical Interview Schedule, CIS-R) and completed brief screening questionnaires for depression (Patient Health Questionnaire, PHQ-9) and anxiety (Generalized Anxiety Disorder Scale, GAD-7).


Patients generally favored the use of screening questionnaires to detect psychological problems, to monitor changes in symptoms and to facilitate targeted and specialist treatment. On the whole, respondents seemed to find such methods familiar and easy to use. The need for staff support was strongly emphasized, both to deal with the emotional impact of screening and to overcome accessibility and literacy problems. Good therapeutic rapport with practitioners came across as an important factor that influences patients’ willingness to discuss psychological problems. Patient readiness and the timeliness of assessments were additional factors influencing acceptability. Participants discussed how psychological problems and substance misuse are associated in complex ways, often resulting in discrimination, poor recognition of such problems and limited access to treatment.


Mental health screening is generally acceptable to patients and can help to identify comorbid mental disorders in order to provide appropriate support and treatment.

Jaime Delgadillo, Stuart Gore, Dawn Jessop, Scott Payne, Paula Singleton, Simon Gilbody, General Hospital Psychiatry