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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 50 (2008) 6, 353 - 358

Short report

The psychiatric assessment and mental status examination from an EBM perspective

H.N. Sno

Psychiatric assessment is a broader term than mental status examination. Psychiatric assessment requires the study of 'the comprehensive collection of data relevant for diagnosis and treatment', whereas mental status examination refers to 'the systematic registration of objective and subjective psychiatric symptoms at the time of assessment or during the current illness episode'. The evidence and the systematics of psychiatric assessment and mental status examination are based primarily on conventions established over time, on medical tradition and on the clinical experience of psychiatric experts. With regard to the mental status examination, according to Dutch tradition the symptoms are grouped on the basis of the 'classical' division of mental functions, the three groups being cognitive, affective and conative. The Dutch guidelines of 2004 is based primarily on 'expert opinion' and 'non-comparative research'. There is need for further scientific research which recognises that psychiatry is an applied clinical and idiographic science requiring an understanding and hermeneutic approach.

keywords mental status examination, psychiatric assessment, psychiatric evaluation