AIDS care 2017 03 14() 1-5 doi 10.1080/09540121.2017.1300632
Routine screening for psychological and cognitive difficulties is recommended in BHIVA guidelines but screening questions are not specified and studies give varied recommendations. Our aim was to see if simple screening in the routine clinic could help better direct our referrals to psychology and highlight those patients requiring, and likely to benefit from, further assessment. We introduced brief questions to assess neurocognitive impairment (NCI) and mood into routine HIV visits, with an onward referral pathway for further investigation for those screening positive. Routine attendees to HIV outpatient care over 12 weeks completed brief screening for depression (PHQ-2) and anxiety (GAD-2) and answered three short questions to screen for possible neurocognitive impairment (NCI-3Q). Patients screening positive underwent further screening via our psychologists and/or referral for neuropsychometric testing. Patient demographics, HIV markers and treatment history were recorded. 97 HIV outpatients were screened; 44 (45%) initially screened positive for NCI and/or mood. 29/44 (66%) were referred for further screening and/or psychological assessment and 21/29 (72%) of those engaged. The Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) and International HIV Dementia Scale (IHDS) were conducted on seven patients; four of these received full neuropsychometric testing. A detectable viral load was associated with positive neurocognitive screening. Rates of NCI and mood disorder among those who were tested were consistent with previous studies. The PHQ-2 and GAD-2 did detect mood problems; however, our results suggest the NCI-3Q questions alone are not good at detecting those with possible NCI. Screening for NCI remains practically difficult in the routine outpatient setting and this pilot supports the need for clearer guidelines on detecting HIV related NCI.