Reading of the Week: Anxiety Screening for Adults – Helpful or Not? Also, Bram on His Depression & His Chatbot (NYT)

From the Editor

“A panel of medical experts on Tuesday recommended for the first time that doctors screen all adult patients under 65 for anxiety, guidance that highlights the extraordinary stress levels that have plagued the United States since the start of the pandemic.”

So reports The New York Times late last month with news of the US Preventive Services Task Force’s draft recommendation. The article quotes panelist Lori Pbert (of the University of Massachusetts): “Our only hope is that our recommendations throw a spotlight on the need to create greater access to mental health care – and urgently.”

In the first selection, we look at the recommendation. In making it, the USPSTF reviewed the literature and weighted the advantages and disadvantages of screening. If finalized, the recommendation would have implications on primary care in the United States – and beyond. “The USPSTF concludes with moderate certainty that screening for anxiety in adults, including pregnant and postpartum persons, has a moderate net benefit.” Is this a step in the right direction? Is this well intentioned but problematic?

In the second selection, Barclay Bram writes about his experiences with a therapist bot, working with the Woebot app. In a long New York Times essay, he talks about his depression and his therapy bot. He writes: “Using Woebot was like reading a good book of fiction. I never lost the sense that it was anything more than an algorithm – but I was able to suspend my disbelief and allow the experience to carry me elsewhere.”


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Reading of the Week: To Screen or Not to Screen – Pregnancy & Depression Screening

From the Editor

“Panel Calls for Depression Screenings During and After Pregnancy”

A government health-care panel making a revision to a past recommendation seems pretty ‘inside baseball’ – and hardly the stuff of international headlines. Last week, though, the decision of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force to now recommend the screening of pregnant and post-partum women for depression was reported from New York to New Delhi.

For the record, The New York Times story (whose headline appears above) ran on the front page.

Why the change and what are the implications?

To screen or not to screen…

This week’s Reading looks at the big decision and we consider: is it a big bust?

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