What is a psychosocial evaluation?

A psychosocial evaluation is an evaluation of a patient's mental, physical, and emotional health. It takes into account not only the patient's physical health, but also the patient's perception of herself and her ability to function in the community. It usually takes the form of a series of questions asked by health professionals. Psychosocial assessment is used to create a complete picture of the patient in order to outline treatment goals.

Most patients have undergone a psychosocial assessment at some point in their lives. The series of questions that the doctor and the other members of the medical staff ask during an annual check-up are a basic form of psychosocial evaluation. Psychosocial assessments also appear in more serious health care situations. They can play a vital role in assessing a patient's needs and creating a treatment plan.

When a patient is first admitted to a long-term care facility, such as a psychiatric hospital or nursing home, the medical team often conducts a psychosocial evaluation. The knowledge gained from this assessment is used to create the patient's care plan. The assessment is repeated monthly or quarterly to ensure it is up to date and to measure the patient's progress.

Psychosocial evaluations are often given to victims of war, violent crime, or major disasters. These situations can cause physical and emotional injuries. Psychosocial assessments can help health workers assess the depth of problems and find a way to help the patient return to full health.

Depending on the treatment context, a psychosocial assessment can be relatively simple or extremely complex. Whether simple or complex, a good assessment should cover all aspects of a person's life to get a picture of that person's state of mind. Common questions include asking a patient to list her stressors, what symptoms she is having, and whether the patient is having suicidal thoughts or harming others. The evaluation should also cover the patient's medical history and her thoughts about herself.

The assessment will often ask the patient to articulate what he or she plans to gain from treatment. You can also ask the patient to identify goals in the coming weeks, months, or years. With that information, healthcare workers can create a treatment plan with milestones that help the patient recognize when they are progressing.

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