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Physical overlooked in mental health treatment
A NEW Australian resource offers advice on assessment and monitoring of the physical health of patients with mental illness, which its developers say is “woefully inadequate”.
The kit, Clinical Guidelines for the Physical Care of Mental Health Consumers, detailed in the October issue of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, was developed by researchers from the School of Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Western Australia.
It followed a survey of Australian psychiatrists showing that screening for obesity, hypertension and metabolic abnormalities was not occurring in many services despite its acknowledged importance.
“Despite the high risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, the screening of psychiatric patients for physical health disorders is woefully inadequate,” the researchers said.
“The overarching aim of the package is not to simply identify issues but to aid clinicians in providing workable solutions.”
The resource, developed in consultation with mental health clinicians, primary care physicians and patients, includes a clinical algorithm, clinician handbook, psychosocial assessment booklet, patient screening forms, a consumer diary and a carer handbook.
The algorithm wall chart gives indices and recommended monitoring intervals for waist circumference, blood pressure, fasting lipids and fasting blood glucose.
The handbook focuses on the adverse effects of psychotropic medications, along with recommended testing for each medication category.
And the psychosocial assessment booklet includes tools for assessing the dimensions of lifestyle factors, such as dental treatment, and alcohol and illicit drug use.
The resource can be downloaded from www.psychiatry.uwa.edu
Aust NZ J Psychiatry 2011; 45: 824-29
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