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APA Updates Guideline for Psychiatric Evaluation

Adopts new principles; adds quality measure section

The American Psychiatric Association has updated its Practice Guidelines for the Psychiatric Evaluation of Adults. The association notes that the new edition marks a transition for APA guidelines, in that they adopt principles from the Institute of Medicine, the Council of Medical Specialty Societies, and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Nine separate guideline modules cover:

• Review of Psychiatric Symptoms, Trauma History, and Psychiatric Treatment History

• Substance Use Assessment

• Suicide Risk Assessment

• Assessment of Risk for Aggressive Behaviors

• Assessment of Cultural Factors

• Assessment of Medical Health

• Quantitative Assessment

• Involvement of the Patient in Treatment Decisions

• Documentation of the Psychiatric Evaluation

Of particular note, the new guideline includes a section on “Quality Measurement Considerations,” which are reviewed for each module. For instance, the Substance Abuse module shows how the APA’s recommendations align with the National Quality Forum’s measures:

• NQF Measure 028: Assess the percentage of adults who are screened every two years for tobacco use and, if identified as a user, receive cessation counseling.

• NQF Measure 110: Assess the percentage of patients with depression or bipolar disorder with evidence of an initial assessment that includes an appraisal for alcohol or chemical dependency.


Practice Guideline for the Psychiatric Evaluation of Adults, 3rd edition. American Psychiatric Association. August 2015.

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