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Should Google offer an online screening exam for depression?


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With one in 5 Americans experiencing clinical basin in their lifetime, should Google offer an online screening exam for depression? Experts discuss a emanate in The BMJ today.

US formed clinical psychiatrist Ken Duckworth says providing a screening exam to people who are already seeking information online “could lift recognition to urge marker and treatment.”

A Google hunt for “Am we depressed?” (or similar) around mobile phone will offer a couple to a studious health petition (PHQ-9) exam – a screening apparatus used by doctors to guard a astringency of depression and response to treatment. Links to materials from a National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and write helplines will be charity with exam formula for people with aloft scores.

He points out that this is not meant to reinstate clinical screening, nor does it consecrate a concept screening program. Instead, “it is dictated to prompt sensitive conversations with clinical professionals and to advise potentially useful resources.”

And he stresses that a outcome alone can't expostulate diagnosis though a veteran creation a grave diagnosis. Nor should it bluster privacy, as Google will not store or record any responses or results, or couple these with individuals’ other data.

“Increasing a encouraged public’s bargain of this certified screening apparatus could assistance to commission patients,” he writes. “Informed people competence have a improved possibility of removing a assistance they competence need.”

But Simon Gilbody, a clinician and highbrow of psychological medicine during a University of York UK, believes that unregulated screening for basin will be ineffectual and worries if could means harm.

He raises concerns over unsound diagnosis resources to accommodate direct and assurances about remoteness and injustice of data. “There are reasons to be endangered that information generated by a basin screening programme competence be used to marketplace antidepressants,” he says.

He argues that basin should be diagnosed following a clinical comment rather than a one-time screening test, warning that “episodes of transitory (and self limiting) psychological trouble will be confused with pervasive disorders that aver treatment.”

And he points out that new illness recognition campaigns and unregulated screening programmes “present risks of overdiagnosis, retailer prompted demand, and inapt treatment.”

“Google’s beginning has been reported definitely and uncritically notwithstanding bypassing a common checks and balances that exist for good reason. It is doubtful that their beginning will urge race health and competence in fact do harm,” he concludes.

In a related commentary, mental health services user David Gilbert argues that by charity a PHQ-9 test online, Google is entrenching old-fashioned ways of meditative about mental health.

This evidence apparatus focuses on physiological and biomedical symptoms, he writes. It puts organisation importance on dysfunction and frames trouble from a opening as an illness. He points to other ways to make a some-more suggestive diagnosis, though asks how most room competence there be for this arrange of discourse if Google’s proceed spreads?

There is hope, he says, though change will occur usually if use users have energy and are equal partners with companies like Google, so that decisions are done together. “Only afterwards will online collection be a pivotal that unlocks clarity making, choice, and control.”

Explore further:
Google hunt for ‘depression’ now to yield screening test

More information:
Should Google offer an online screening exam for depression? www.bmj.com/content/358/bmj.j4144

Patient commentary: Online screening tests for depression: aged (paternalistic) booze in new (digital) bottles, www.bmj.com/content/358/bmj.j4207

Provided by:
British Medical Journal
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