eDiagnostics: a promising step towards primary mental health care

Ies Dijksman*, Geert-Jan Dinant, Mark G. Spigt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Introduction. There is a growing interest in eHealth applications in daily health care. Considering that a psychological examination, to a large extent, consists of filling out questionnaires, the use of the Internet seems logical. We evaluated an eDiagnostic system for mental health disorders that has recently been introduced in primary care in the Netherlands. Methods. We monitored the diagnoses produced by the system. Evaluation questionnaires from both GPs/practice nurses (PNs) and patients were collected. In addition, we compared the advice produced by the GPs/PNs and the advice produced by the system. Results. The most prevalent disorders were mood, anxiety and somatoform disorders (n = 353). Patients (n = 242; 74% response rate) were moderately enthusiastic about the eHealth approach, and GPs/PNs (n = 49, 72% response rate per practice) were very enthusiastic. Patients showed no clear preference for a face-to-face consultation with a psychologist over an eDiagnostic system. GPs/PNs felt strengthened in their control function. In most cases, the system gave a different echelon advice (i.e. referral to primary or secondary mental health care) than the GPs/PNs (kappa = 0.13, P = 0.003). Nevertheless, GPs/PNs accept the results of the examination and the advice given. Conclusions. Using the Internet to diagnose mental health problems in primary care seems very promising. This system of using eDiagnostics before referral to a mental health institution may change the management of mental health care. Further research should investigate whether this tool is valid, reliable and (cost) effective.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)695-704
JournalFamily Practice
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013


  • eDiagnostics
  • general practitioner
  • mental health disorders
  • practice nurse
  • prevention
  • primary care

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