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Physical Examination in Psychiatric Practice: Common Scenarios Requiring Physical Examination

Activity Type:

  • On Demand

Release Date: 3/1/2016

Expiration Date: 3/1/2019

  • AMA PRA Category 1 Physician: 0.5
  • Participation: 0.5

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Many conditions in medicine present with prominent psychiatric symptoms. For example, seizures, hypothyroidism, and lupus may present first with depression, psychosis, or mania; yet, physical examinations are not universally performed on psychiatric patients, with studies suggesting that over 40% of psychiatric inpatients do not receive a physical exam. Other conditions in psychiatry such as intoxication and withdrawal states, somatic symptoms disorders, and neurodegenerative conditions require attention to the exam, which in fact, may guide management of these conditions. This section will provide an outline of the physical exam in psychiatry, with a discussion of areas of focus for the general psychiatrist. We will provide a broad overview of commonly encountered physical findings in intoxication and withdrawal states, endocrine and neurologic disorders, as well as somatic symptoms and other conditions. Guidelines will be provided to incorporate physical examination into a regular psychiatric evaluation and adapt it to various locations of practice. 

**This content was captured at the 2015 APA Annual Meeting


  • General Member - $6.25
  • Resident-Fellow Member - Free
  • Medical Student Member - $6.25
  • Non-Member - $12.50

Free member registration for this course through the Course of the Month program ended on March 31st

Educational Objectives

  • Identify medical conditions that present with psychiatric symptoms. 
  • Apply the physical examination to specific psychiatric conditions that require attention to physical findings.
  • Describe medical conditions that occur commonly in the psychiatric patient population that require attention by the general psychiatrist

Target Audience

Residents/Fellows, Psychiatrists

Estimated Time to Complete

Estimated Duration: 0.5 hours
Program Start: March 1, 2016
Program End: March 1, 2019

How to Earn Credit

Participants who wish to earn AMA PRA Category 1 Credit ™ or a certificate of participation may do so by completing all sections of the course including the evaluation. A multiple choice quiz is provided based on the content. A passing score of 100% must be achieved. Retakes are available for the test. After evaluating the program, course participants will be provided with an opportunity to claim hours of participation and print an official CME certificate (physicians) or certificate of participation (non-physicians) showing the date of completion and hours earned. 


The American Psychiatric Association (APA) is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The APA designates this enduring material for a maximum of 0.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Faculty and Planner Disclosures


  • Priya Gopalan, M.D., University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Reports no financial relationships with commercial interests

Program Planners

  • Tristan Gorrindo, M.D., Director of Education, American Psychiatric Association. Reports no financial relationships with commercial interests
  • Jon Fanning, M.S., C.A.E., Chief of Membership and RFM-ECP, American Psychiatric Association. Reports no financial relationships with commercial interests
  • Stephanie Auditore, J.D., Director of Member Product Developmpent, Engagement & Portfolio Management, American Psychiatric Association. Reports no financial relationships with commercial interests
  • Ricardo A. Juarez, M.S., Associate Director, Office of International Affairs, American Psychiatric Association. Reports no financial relationships with commercial interests

Hardware/Software Requirements

This internet-based CME activity is best experienced using Internet Explorer 8+, Mozilla Firefox 3+, Safari 4+. This website requires that JavaScript and session cookies be enabled. Certain activities may require additional software to view multimedia, presentation, or printable versions of the content. These activities will be marked as such and will provide links to the required software. That software may be: Adobe Flash, Adobe Acrobat, Microsoft PowerPoint, and Windows Media Player.

Optimal System Configuration

  • Flash Player: Adobe Flash Player 10.3+ 
  • Browser: Firefox (latest version), Internet Explorer 8.0+, Safari 7.0+, Microsoft Edge (latest version) or Google Chrome (latest version)
  • Operating System: Windows XP+ or Mac OS X 10.4+ 
  • Internet Connection: 1 Mbps or higher

Minimum Requirements

  • Windows PC: 500-MHz Pentium II; Windows XP or higher; 128 MB RAM; Video Card at least 64MB of video memory; Macromedia Flash Player 10.3 or higher; Sound Card at least 16-bit; audio playback with speakers for programs with video content
  • Macintosh:Mac OS X 10.4+ or higher with latest updates installed; 1.83MHz Intel Core Duo or faster; RAM: 128MB or more; Video Card: at least 64MB of video memory; Sound Card: at least 16-bit; audio playback with speakers for programs with video content

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