West Coast University Patient interview Discussion

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Patient Interview

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, write the medical history portion of the psychiatric report. The medical history should include the following sections:


Chief Complaint

History of present illness

  • Past psychiatric and medical history
  • Family history
  • Personal history
  • Summation of observations and impressions
  • Review of Systems
  • Psychiatric History
    A. Identification: Name, age, marital status, sex, occupation, language if other than English, race,
    nationality, and religion if pertinent; previous admissions to a hospital for the same or a different
    condition; with whom the patient lives
    B. Chief complaint: Exactly why the patient came to the psychiatrist, preferably in the patient’s own
    words; if that information does not come from the patient, note who supplied it
    C. History of present illness: Chronologic background and development of the symptoms or behavioral
    changes that culminated in the patient’s seeking assistance; patient’s life circumstances at the time of
    onset; personality when well; how illness has affected life activities and personal relations—changes in
    personality, interests, mood, attitudes toward others, dress, habits, level of tenseness, irritability,
    activity, attention, concentration, memory, speech; psychophysiological symptoms—nature and details
    of dysfunction; pain—location, intensity, fluctuation; level of anxiety—generalized and nonspecific (free
    floating) or specifically related to particular situations, activities, or objects; how anxieties are handled—
    avoidance, repetition of feared situation, use of drugs or other activities for alleviation
    D. Past psychiatric and medical history: (1) Emotional or mental disturbances—extent of incapacity,
    type of treatment, names of hospitals, length of illness, effect of treatment; (2) psychosomatic
    disorders: hay fever, arthritis, colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, recurrent colds, skin conditions; (3) medical
    conditions: follow customary review of systems—sexually transmitted diseases, alcohol or other
    substance abuse, at risk for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS); (4) neurologic disorders:
    headache, craniocerebral trauma, loss of consciousness, seizures, or tumors
    E. Family history: Elicited from patient and from someone else, because quite different descriptions
    may be given of the same persons and events; ethnic, national, and religious traditions; other persons in
    the home, descriptions of them—personality and intelligence—and what has become of them since
    patient’s childhood; descriptions of different households lived in; present relationships between patient
    and those who were in family; role of illness in the family; family history of mental illness; where does
    patient live—neighborhood and particular residence of the patient; is home crowded; privacy of family
    members from each other and from other families; sources of family income and difficulties in obtaining
    it; public assistance (if any) and attitude about it; will patient lose job or apartment by remaining in the
    hospital; who is caring for children
    F. Personal history (anamnesis): History of the patient’s life from infancy to the present to the extent it
    can be recalled; gaps in history as spontaneously related by the patient; emotions associated with
    different life periods (painful, stressful, conflictual) or with phases of life cycle
    1. Early childhood (Birth through age 3)
    a. Prenatal history and mother’s pregnancy and delivery: Length of pregnancy, spontaneity and
    normality of delivery, birth trauma, whether patient was planned and wanted, birth defects
    b. Feeding habits: Breast-fed or bottle-fed, eating problems
    c. Early development: Maternal deprivation, language development, motor development, signs of
    unmet needs, sleep pattern, object constancy, stranger anxiety, separation anxiety
    d. Toilet training: Age, attitude of parents, feelings about it
    e. Symptoms of behavior problems: Thumb sucking, temper tantrums, tics, head bumping, rocking,
    night terrors, fears, bed-wetting or bed soiling, nail biting, masturbation
    f. Personality and temperament as a child: Shy, restless, overactive, withdrawn, studious, outgoing,
    timid, athletic, friendly patterns of play, reactions to siblings
    2. Middle childhood (ages 3–11): Early school history—feelings about going to school, early adjustment,
    sex identification, conscience development, punishment; social relationships, attitudes toward siblings
    and playmates
    3. Later childhood (prepuberty through adolescence)
    a. Peer relationships: Number and closeness of friends, leader or follower, social popularity,
    participation in group or gang activities, idealized figures; patterns of aggression, passivity, anxiety,
    antisocial behavior
    b. School history: How far the patient went, adjustment to school, relationships with teachers—
    teacher’s pet or rebellious—favorite studies or interests, particular abilities or assets, extracurricular
    activities, sports, hobbies, relationships of problems or symptoms to any school period
    c. Cognitive and motor development: Learning to read and other intellectual and motor skills, minimal
    cerebral dysfunction, learning disabilities—their management and effects on the child
    d. Particular adolescent emotional or physical problems: Nightmares, phobias, masturbation, bedwetting, running away, delinquency, smoking, drug or alcohol use, weight problems, feeling of inferiority
    e. Psychosexual history
    i. Early curiosity, infantile masturbation, sex play
    ii. Acquiring of sexual knowledge, attitude of parents toward sex, sexual abuse
    iii. Onset of puberty, feelings about it, kind of preparation, feelings about menstruation, development
    of secondary sexual characteristics
    iv. Adolescent sexual activity: Crushes, parties, dating, petting, masturbation, wet dreams and attitudes
    toward them
    v. Attitudes toward same and opposite sex: Timid, shy, aggressive, need to impress, seductive, sexual
    conquests, anxiety
    vi. Sexual practices: Sexual problems, homosexual and heterosexual experiences, paraphilias,
    f. Religious background: Strict, liberal, mixed (possible conflicts), relation of background to current
    religious practices
    4. Adulthood
    a. Occupational history: Choice of occupation, training, ambitions, conflicts; relations with authority,
    peers, and subordinates; number of jobs and duration; changes in job status; current job and feelings
    about it
    b. Social activity: Whether patient has friends or not; is patient withdrawn or socializing well; social,
    intellectual, and physical interests; relationships with same sex and opposite sex; depth, duration, and
    quality of human relations
    c. Adult sexuality
    i. Premarital sexual relationships, age of first coitus, sexual orientation
    ii. Marital history: Common-law marriages, legal marriages, description of courtship and role played by
    each partner, age at marriage, family planning and contraception, names and ages of children, attitudes
    toward raising children, problems of any family members, housing difficulties if important to the
    marriage, sexual adjustment, extramarital affairs, areas of agreement and disagreement, management
    of money, role of in-laws
    iii. Sexual symptoms: Anorgasmia, impotence, premature ejaculation, lack of desire
    iv. Attitudes toward pregnancy and having children; contraceptive practices and feelings about them
    v. Sexual practices: Paraphilias such as sadism, fetishes, voyeurism; attitude toward fellation,
    cunnilingus; coital techniques, frequency
    d. Military history: General adjustment, combat, injuries, referral to psychiatrists, type of discharge,
    veteran status
    e. Value systems: Whether children are seen as a burden or a joy; whether work is seen as a necessary
    evil, an avoidable chore, or an opportunity; current attitude about religion; belief in heaven and hell
    G. Summation of the examiner’s observations and impressions derived from the initial interview
    II. Mental Status
    A. Appearance
    1. Personal identification: May include a brief nontechnical description of the patient’s appearance and
    behavior as a novelist might write it; attitude toward examiner can be described here—cooperative,
    attentive, interested, frank, seductive, defensive, hostile, playful, ingratiating, evasive, guarded
    2. Behavior and psychomotor activity: Gait, mannerisms, tics, gestures, twitches, stereotypes, picking,
    touching examiner, echopraxia, clumsy, agile, limp, rigid, retarded, hyperactive, agitated, combative,
    3. General description: Posture, bearing, clothes, grooming, hair, nails; healthy, sickly, angry, frightened,
    apathetic, perplexed, contemptuous, ill at ease, poised, old looking, young looking, effeminate,
    masculine; signs of anxiety—moist hands, perspiring forehead, restlessness, tense posture, strained
    voice, wide eyes; shifts in level of anxiety during interview or with particular topic
    B. Speech: Rapid, slow, pressured, hesitant, emotional, monotonous, loud, whispered, slurred,
    mumbled, stuttering, echolalia, intensity, pitch, ease, spontaneity, productivity, manner, reaction time,
    vocabulary, prosody
    C. Mood and affect
    1. Mood (a pervasive and sustained emotion that colors the person’s perception of the world): How
    does patient say he or she feels; depth, intensity, duration, and fluctuations of mood—depressed,
    despairing, irritable, anxious, terrified, angry, expansive, euphoric, empty, guilty, awed, futile, selfcontemptuous, anhedonic, alexithymic
    2. Affect (the outward expression of the patient’s inner experiences): How examiner evaluates patient’s
    affects—broad, restricted, blunted or flat, shallow, amount and range of expression; difficulty in
    initiating, sustaining, or terminating an emotional response; is the emotional expression appropriate to
    the thought content, culture, and setting of the examination; give examples if emotional expression is
    not appropriate
    D. Thinking and perception
    1. Form of thinking
    a. Productivity: Overabundance of ideas, paucity of ideas, flight of ideas, rapid thinking, slow thinking,
    hesitant thinking; does patient speak spontaneously or only when questions are asked, stream of
    thought, quotations from patient
    b. Continuity of thought: Whether patient’s replies really answer questions and are goal directed,
    relevant, or irrelevant; loose associations; lack of causal relations in patient’s explanations; illogic,
    tangential, circumstantial, rambling, evasive, perseverative statements, blocking or distractibility
    c. Language impairments: Impairments that reflect disordered mentation, such as incoherent or
    incomprehensible speech (word salad), clang associations, neologisms
    2. Content of thinking
    a. Preoccupations: About the illness, environmental problems; obsessions, compulsions, phobias;
    obsessions or plans about suicide, homicide; hypochondriacal symptoms, specific antisocial urges or
    3. Thought disturbances
    a. Delusions: Content of any delusional system, its organization, the patient’s convictions as to its
    validity, how it affects his or her life: persecutory delusions—isolated or associated with pervasive
    suspiciousness; mood congruent or mood incongruent
    b. Ideas of reference and ideas of influence: How ideas began, their content, and the meaning the
    patient attributes to them
    4. Perceptual disturbances
    a. Hallucinations and illusions: Whether patient hears voices or sees visions; content, sensory system
    involvement, circumstances of the occurrence; hypnagogic or hypnopompic hallucinations; thought
    b. Depersonalization and derealization: Extreme feelings of detachment from self or from the
    5. Dreams and fantasies
    a. Dreams: Prominent ones, if patient will tell them; nightmares
    b. Fantasies: Recurrent, favorite, or unshakable daydreams
    E. Sensorium
    1. Alertness: Awareness of environment, attention span, clouding of consciousness, fluctuations in
    levels of awareness, somnolence, stupor, lethargy, fugue state, coma
    2. Orientation
    a. Time: Whether patient identifies the day correctly; or approximate date, time of day; if in a hospital,
    knows how long he or she has been there; behaves as though oriented to the present
    b. Place: Whether patient knows where he or she is
    c. Person: Whether patient knows who the examiner is and the roles or names of the persons with
    whom in contact
    3. Concentration and calculation: Subtracting 7 from 100 and keep subtracting 7s; if patient cannot
    subtract 7s, can easier tasks be accomplished—4 × 9; 5 × 4; how many nickels are in $1.35; whether
    anxiety or some disturbance of mood or concentration seems to be responsible for difficulty
    4. Memory: Impairment, efforts made to cope with impairment—denial, confabulation, catastrophic
    reaction, circumstantiality used to conceal deficit: whether the process of registration, retention, or
    recollection of material is involved
    a. Remote memory: Childhood data, important events known to have occurred when the patient was
    younger or free of illness, personal matters, neutral material
    b. Recent past memory: Past few months
    c. Recent memory: Past few days, what did patient do yesterday, the day before, have for breakfast,
    lunch, dinner
    d. Immediate retention and recall: Ability to repeat six figures after examiner dictates them—first
    forward, then backward, then after a few minutes’ interruption; other test questions; did same
    questions, if repeated, call forth different answers at different times
    e. Effect of defect on patient: Mechanisms patient has developed to cope with defect
    5. Fund of knowledge: Level of formal education and self-education; estimate of the patient’s
    intellectual capability and whether capable of functioning at the level of his or her basic endowment;
    counting, calculation, general knowledge; questions should have relevance to the patient’s educational
    and cultural background
    6. Abstract thinking: Disturbances in concept formation; manner in which the patient conceptualizes or
    handles his or her ideas; similarities (e.g., between apples and pears), differences, absurdities; meanings
    of simple proverbs (e.g., “A rolling stone gathers no moss”) answers may be concrete (giving specific
    examples to illustrate the meaning) or overly abstract (giving generalized explanation); appropriateness
    of answers
    F. Insight: Degree of personal awareness and understanding of illness
    1. Complete denial of illness
    2. Slight awareness of being sick and needing help but denying it at the same time
    3. Awareness of being sick but blaming it on others, on external factors, on medical or unknown organic
    4. Intellectual insight: Admission of illness and recognition that symptoms or failures in social
    adjustment are due to irrational feelings or disturbances, without applying that knowledge to future
    5. True emotional insight: Emotional awareness of the motives and feelings within, of the underlying
    meaning of symptoms; does the awareness lead to changes in personality and future behavior;
    openness to new ideas and concepts about self and the important persons in his or her life
    G. Judgment
    1. Social judgment: Subtle manifestations of behavior that are harmful to the patient and contrary to
    acceptable behavior in the culture; does the patient understand the likely outcome of personal behavior
    and is patient influenced by that understanding; examples of impairment
    2. Test judgment: Patient’s prediction of what he or she would do in imaginary situations (e.g., what
    patient would do with a stamped addressed letter found in the street)
    III. Further Diagnostic Studies
    A. Physical examination
    B. Neurologic examination
    C. Additional psychiatric diagnostic studies
    D. Interviews with family members, friends, or neighbors by a social worker
    E. Psychological, neurologic, or laboratory tests as indicated: Electroencephalogram, computed
    tomography scan, magnetic resonance imaging, tests of other medical conditions, reading
    comprehension and writing tests, test for aphasia, projective or objective psychological tests,
    dexamethasone-suppression test, 24-hour urine test for heavy metal intoxication, urine screen for drugs
    of abuse
    IV. Summary of Findings
    Summarize mental symptoms, medical and laboratory findings, and psychological and neurologic test
    results, if available; include medications patient has been taking, dosage, duration. Clarity of thinking is
    reflected in clarity of writing. When summarizing the mental status (e.g., the phrase “Patient denies
    hallucinations and delusions” is not as precise as “Patient denies hearing voices or thinking that he is
    being followed.”). The latter indicates the specific question asked and the specific response given.
    Similarly, in the conclusion of the report one would write “Hallucinations and delusions were not
    V. Diagnosis
    Diagnostic classification is made according to DSM-5. The diagnostic numerical code should be used
    from DSM-5 or ICD-10. It might be prudent to use both codes to cover current and future regulatory
    VI. Prognosis
    Opinion about the probable future course, extent, and outcome of the disorder; good and bad
    prognostic factors; specific goals of therapy
    VII. Psychodynamic Formulation
    Causes of the patient’s psychodynamic breakdown—influences in the patient’s life that contributed to
    present disorder; environmental, genetic, and personality factors relevant to determining patient’s
    symptoms; primary and secondary gains; outline of the major defense mechanism used by the patient
    VIII. Comprehensive Treatment Plan
    Modalities of treatment recommended, role of medication, inpatient or outpatient treatment,
    frequency of sessions, probable duration of therapy; type of psychotherapy; individual, group, or family
    therapy; symptoms or problems to be treated. Initially, treatment must be directed toward any lifethreatening situations such as suicidal risk or risk of danger to others that require psychiatric
    hospitalization. Danger to self or others is an acceptable reason (both legally and medically) for
    involuntary hospitalization. In the absence of the need for confinement, a variety of outpatient
    treatment alternatives are available: day hospitals, supervised residences, outpatient psychotherapy or
    pharmacotherapy, among others. In some cases, treatment planning must attend to vocational and
    psychosocial skills training and even legal or forensic issues.
    Comprehensive treatment planning requires a therapeutic team approach using the skills of
    psychologists, social workers, nurses, activity and occupational therapists, and a variety of other mental
    health professionals, with referral to self-help groups (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous [AA]) if needed. If
    either the patient or family members are unwilling to accept the recommendations of treatment and
    the clinician thinks that the refusal of the recommendations may have serious consequences, the
    patient, parent, or guardian should sign a statement to the effect that the recommended treatment was

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