A general psychiatric evaluation has as its central component
an interview with the patient. The interview-based data are integrated
with information that may be obtained through other components of
the evaluation, such as a review of medical records, a physical examination,
diagnostic tests, and history from collateral sources. A general
evaluation usually is time intensive. The amount of time necessary
generally depends on the complexity of the problem and the patient's
ability and willingness to work cooperatively with the psychiatrist.
Language competence needs to be assessed early in the evaluation
so that the need for an interpreter can be determined. Several meetings
with the patient, and in many cases appropriate family or relational
network members, may be necessary. More focused evaluations of lesser
scope may be appropriate when the psychiatrist is called on to address a
specific, limited diagnostic or therapeutic issue.