[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
February 1973

Toward a More Efficient Mental Status ExaminationFree-Form or Operationally Defined

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1973;28(2):215-218. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1973.01750320049008

This study compares free-form and operationally defined admission mental status examinations completed independently in 49 unselected cases. Both types of mental status examinations were diagnostically oriented and appropriate to evaluation and treatment in an acutely ill inpatient psychiatric service. The consensus opinions of 28 full professors of departments of psychiatry from medical schools located throughout the country provided the standard for comparison.

Results demonstrate that there is a set of characteristics that current recognized experts in psychiatry agree upon as belonging in a mental status examination. The operationally defined mental status is shown to be more efficient than free-form recording since the former captures standard information more systematically without any additional effort on the part of the physician.