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Mental state examination

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The mental status examination, MSE, is an important step in a "clinical assessment" of an individual. The purpose of the MSE is to get an over-all description of the patient's mental state. This, with information about the person, lets the clinician make a diagnosis. Then a plan is chosen for the person's treatment.

The examination is a way of describing a patient's current state of mind. Some parts of the MSE are done by observing, asking questions and noting; some parts are done using psychological tests.[1] It works by looking at attitude, behavior, mood and "affect" (feeling), speech, thinking, perception, cognition, insight and judgment.[1]

The MSE is different from the mini-mental state examination (MMSE), which is a brief test for dementia.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Trzepacz, PT; Baker RW (1993). The psychiatric mental status examination. Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press. p. 202. ISBN 0-19-506251-5 .