OBJECTIVE: The goal of this study was to characterize primary care
patients with false positive results on screens for mental disorders.
METHOD: A sample of 1,001 primary care patients completed self-
administered screens and structured interviews for DSM-IV diagnoses.
RESULTS: A substantial proportion of the patients with false positive
screen results for at least one diagnosis met the diagnostic criteria for
other psychiatric disorders. They also had significantly greater functional
impairment and higher rates of recent use of mental health services than
the subjects with true negative results on the screens. CONCLUSIONS:
Although the positive predictive values of screens for specific mental
disorders are in line with those of other medical screens, false positive
results are not uncommon. This may be due in part to the sensitivity of
brief screening instruments to nonspecific symptoms. The results suggest
that as with other screens used in primary care, patients with false
positive results on screens for mental disorders should receive clinical