These are projects posted by the students of Dr. Gove Allen at Brigham Young University. These students have taken one semester-long course on VBA and generally have had no prior programming experience

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

DSM IV: Diagnosis Helper

Currently clinicians face several issues when diagnosing a client. For example, clinicians are often expected to diagnose a client after only a single one-hour meeting. Clinicians are also expected to appropriately choose a diagnosis from DSM IV manual which contains several hundred diagnoses. (The DSM is a diagnosing manual published by the American Psychiatry Association.) The problem is also exacerbated by the fact that many MSW programs do not require students to take a DSM IV course to properly learn all of the diagnoses in the book. As a result, clinicians tend to use only a limited number of diagnoses for a broad range of symptoms.

For our project, we built a tool to walk through the steps of the DSM IV decision tree models for diagnosing a client. On the initial form, the user is asked to choose from the higher-level differential diagnoses. The user is then asked a series of questions related to the selected differential diagnoses and specific diagnoses are shown based on the user response. The idea is to give the clinician or student using the program a pool of diagnoses that could potentially include some or all of the symptoms described. The user is then able to gain more information by selecting one or more specific diagnosis and clicking on the more information button.

After the user is taken to the final form, he/she can click on a diagnosis where the information is scraped from the website or the user can choose a diagnosis and click on the button “Search Online” where the user is taken to an internet explorer browser where the term selected has already been searched using the search engine.

The purpose is to force the user to consider all possible diagnoses and then give the user a chance to research more if he/she has questions about a diagnosis that he/she is unfamiliar with or might not understand completely. In doing so, we hope to help students and clinicians to be better educated when it comes to the DSM IV and make a carefully thought out diagnosis for each client.

Note: This project will only work if you are on BYU campus or if you are logged in to Although is not a free website, BYU is given a free subscription for any person accessing the site from on campus. Our project was intended as a learning tool for BYU MSW students and therefore considers that all users will be on campus.

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