What is a Psychosocial Assessment?

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  • Written By: Emma G.
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 04 October 2019
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A psychosocial assessment is an evaluation of a patient's mental, physical, and emotional health. It takes into account not only the physical health of the patient, but also the patient’s perception of self and his or her ability to function in the community. Usually it takes the form of a series of questions asked by health care professionals. The assessment is used to create a comprehensive picture of the patient in order to map out treatment goals.

Most patients have undergone a psychosocial assessment at some point in their lives. The series of questions the doctor and the other medical staff members ask during a yearly check-up are a basic form of assessment. These assessments appear in more serious health care situations as well. 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 performs a psychosocial assessment. The knowledge gathered from this assessment is used to create the patient's health care plan. The assessment is repeated monthly or quarterly to ensure that it is up to date and to measure the progress of the patient.


Assessments are also often given to victims of war, violent crimes, or major disasters. These situations can lead to both physical and emotional injuries. These assessments can help health care workers to assess the depth of the problems and find a way to help the patient return to full health.

Depending on the context of the treatment, a psychosocial assessment can be relatively simple or extremely complex. Whether simple or complex, a good assessment should cover all the aspects of a person's life in order to get a picture of his or her mental state. Common questions include asking a patient to list his or her stressors, the symptoms he or she is having, and whether the patient has thoughts of suicide or harming others. The assessment should also cover a patient's medical history and the patient's thoughts of self.

The assessment will often ask the patient to articulate what he or she plans to gain from treatment. It may also ask the patient to identify goals over the next few weeks, months, or years. With that information, the health care workers can draw up a treatment plan with milestones that help the patient recognize when he or she is making progress.


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Post 2

@suntan12- I was always under the impression that schizophrenia was hereditary, as well. In my psychology class, we studied mental disorders at great length. The way that I understand it is that we may have a biological predisposition to the disease but it is not necessarily hereditary.

Another way to look at it is to compare it to substance abuse. Someone might be born with a predisposition to substance abuse or have that “addictive gene”. They may go their whole lives without drinking or doing drugs. However, they might try alcohol one time and then develop an addiction for it. They have ignited that gene.

Other studies have shown that mental disorders do run in families but that the severity may not be the same. Meaning, a parent might have severe schizophrenia with psychotic episodes and the child may just suffer from depression or anxiety.

Post 1

I recently read that people that have schizophrenia undergo a series of psychiatric evaluations in order to determine the source of their pain. Sometimes a psychiatrist will put the patient under hypnosis in order to determine why the condition developed.

I read that they do this because these patients block out memories that are very painful and will not be able to share the traumatic experience at the conscious level. I always thought that schizophrenia was a condition that ran in families.

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