Added-value support provided via some individual and group protection products, intermediaries and other affinity groups, should include a clinical assessment from a qualified medical practitioner before treatment is provided.
A clinical assessment can include specific illness-related questionnaires, such as the PHQ-9 and GAD-7 test for depression and anxiety, but also includes collecting information through the use of discussion and sensitive questioning to learn more about the individual’s specific symptoms, personal situation, cognitive and emotional functioning, environmental and cultural factors. The aim being to build a broad picture of the individual to fully assess their overall health in the broadest context and to not make assumptions based on limited initial presenting factors.
There are three key reasons why a clinical assessment is important in all cases.
Firstly, to determine what course of action is actually needed. By having a thorough understanding of an individual’s symptoms and their ability to function, it is possible to determine whether they do indeed need a particular form of treatment or whether another course of action (such as a lifestyle change) might be more appropriate and possible without additional support.
Secondly, to determine what is most appropriate. With ‘Dr Google’ and other online symptom-checkers being the first port of call for many when people believe they are ill, individuals often think they know what they need. In addition, this can also be influenced by well-meaning family or friends, but this can mean the chosen direction isn’t always appropriate.
However, a clinical assessment will help to properly understand what course of action will produce better outcomes, as there may be multiple treatment or therapy paths available and some will have greater efficacy than others in certain situations.
Thirdly, to determine if the pathway worked. It is vital to understand the baseline position or the starting point for any individual, in order to ensure that any treatment either improves their condition or makes a difference. Without having a measure in place, it becomes harder to monitor progress or suggest alternative routes.
A clinical assessment is equally important in the case of both mental and physical health.
The term ‘mental health’ covers such a broad spectrum of conditions from stress and anxiety to serious psychosis and even when two individuals present with similar symptoms, appropriate courses of treatment may differ dramatically depending on other circumstances.
Likewise, physical illness can affect many areas of someone’s health and life, and people can be unsure where to start. A clinical assessment can look at all of this in the round and help direct the priorities.
Making sure the most appropriate support is in place, all stems from a clinical assessment. When people self-diagnose or don’t receive a clinical assessment, they could go down the wrong path of treatment. In the best-case scenario, this may mean their recovery takes longer but, in some cases, it could mean their condition deteriorates. A clinical assessment is the most effective way to ensure that treatment is required, appropriate and effective.”
Christine Husbands is managing director of RedArc