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  • No Significant Evidence of Cognitive Biases for Emotional Stimuli in Children At-Risk of Developing Anxiety Disorders.

    29 June 2018

    This paper explores whether the increased vulnerability of children of anxious parents to develop anxiety disorders may be partially explained by these children having increased cognitive biases towards threat compared with children of non-anxious parents. Parents completed questionnaires about their child's anxiety symptoms. Children aged 5-9 (n = 85) participated in two cognitive bias tasks: 1) an emotion recognition task, and 2) an ambiguous situations questionnaire. For the emotion recognition task, there were no significant differences between at-risk children and children of non-anxious parents in their cognitive bias scores for reaction times or for accuracy in identifying angry or happy facial expressions. In addition, there were no significant differences between at-risk children and children of non-anxious parents in the number of threat interpretations made for the ambiguous situations questionnaire. It is possible that these cognitive biases only become present subsequent to the development of an anxiety disorder, or only in older at-risk children.

  • A systematic review and meta-analysis of low intensity CBT for psychosis.

    29 June 2018

    Sixteen sessions of individual cognitive behavior therapy for people with psychosis (CBTp) is recommended. However, access to CBTp is poor, so the potential of low intensity CBTp (fewer than 16 sessions of face-to-face contact) is being explored. A systematic review and meta-analysis was conducted of 10 controlled trials evaluating low intensity CBTp. Significant between-group effects were found on the primary outcome, symptoms of psychosis, at post-intervention (d=-0.46, 95% CI: -0.06, -0.86) and follow-up (d=-0.40, 95% CI: -0.06, -0.74). Study quality did not moderate post-intervention psychosis outcomes, nor did contact time/number of sessions or therapy format (individual versus group). Between-group effects on secondary outcomes (depression, anxiety and functioning) were not significant at post-intervention, but became significant at follow-up for depression and functioning outcomes (but not for anxiety). Overall, findings suggest that low intensity CBTp shows promise with effect sizes comparable to those found in meta-analyses of CBTp more broadly. We suggest that low intensity CBTp could help widen access. Future research is called for to identify mechanisms of change and to ascertain moderators of outcome so that low intensity CBTp targets key mechanisms (so that scarce therapy time is used effectively) and so that interventions offered are matched to patient need.

  • Guided self-help cognitive behavioral intervention for VoicEs (GiVE): study protocol for a pilot randomized controlled trial.

    29 June 2018

    BACKGROUND: Cognitive behavior therapy for psychosis (CBTp) is an effective intervention for people who hear distressing voices (auditory hallucinations). However, there continues to be a problem of poor access to CBTp. Constraints on health care funding require this problem to be addressed without a substantial increase in funding. One solution is to develop guided self-help forms of CBTp to improve access, and a symptom-specific focus on, for example, distressing voices (auditory verbal hallucinations) has the potential to enhance effectiveness. We term this cognitive behavior therapy for distressing voices (CBTv). METHODS/DESIGN: This trial is an external pilot randomized controlled trial comparing the effects of 12-week guided self-help CBTv (with eight therapist support sessions) with a wait list control condition. Informed consent will be obtained from each participant. Half of the 30 participants will be randomized to receive guided self-help CBTv immediately; the remaining half will receive the intervention after a 12-week delay. All participants will continue with their usual treatment throughout the study. Outcomes will be assessed using questionnaires completed at baseline and 12 weeks postrandomization. Interviews will be offered to all those who receive therapy immediately to explore their experiences with the intervention. DISCUSSION: The outcomes of this trial, both quantitative and qualitative, will inform the design of a definitive randomized controlled trial of guided self-help CBTv. If this intervention is effective, it could help to increase access to CBT for those who hear distressing voices. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ISRCTN registration number  ISRCTN77762753 . Registered on 23 July 2015.

  • Understanding the Barriers to Accessing Symptom-Specific Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) for Distressing Voices: Reflecting on and Extending the Lessons Learnt From the CBT for Psychosis Literature.

    29 June 2018

    The experience of hearing voices ('auditory hallucinations') can cause significant distress and disruption to quality of life for people with a psychosis diagnosis. Psychological therapy in the form of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) for psychosis is recommended for the treatment of positive symptoms, including distressing voices, but is rarely available to patients in the United Kingdom. CBT for psychosis has recently evolved with the development of symptom-specific therapies that focus upon only one symptom of psychosis at a time. Preliminary findings from randomized controlled trials suggest that these symptom-specific therapies can be more effective for distressing voices than the use of broad CBT protocols, and have the potential to target voices trans-diagnostically. Whilst this literature is evolving, consideration must be given to the potential for a symptom-specific approach to overcome some of the barriers to delivery of evidence-based psychological therapies within clinical services. These barriers are discussed in relation to the United Kingdom mental health services, and we offer suggestions for future research to enhance our understanding of these barriers.

  • Barriers to disseminating brief CBT for voices from a lived experience and clinician perspective.

    29 June 2018

    Access to psychological therapies continues to be poor for people experiencing psychosis. To address this problem, researchers are developing brief interventions that address the specific symptoms associated with psychosis, i.e., hearing voices. As part of the development work for a brief Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) intervention for voices we collected qualitative data from people who hear voices (study 1) and clinicians (study 2) on the potential barriers and facilitators to implementation and engagement. Thematic analysis of the responses from both groups revealed a number of anticipated barriers to implementation and engagement. Both groups believed the presenting problem (voices and psychosis symptoms) may impede engagement. Furthermore clinicians identified a lack of resources to be a barrier to implementation. The only facilitator to engagement was reported by people who hear voices who believed a compassionate, experienced and trustworthy therapist would promote engagement. The results are discussed in relation to how these barriers could be addressed in the context of a brief intervention using CBT techniques.

  • Caring for Caregivers (C4C): study protocol for a pilot feasibility randomised control trial of Positive Written Disclosure for older adult caregivers of people with psychosis.

    29 June 2018

    Background: The caregivers of people who experience psychosis are themselves at risk of developing physical and mental health problems. This risk is increased for older adult caregivers who also have to manage the lifestyle and health changes associated with ageing. As a consequence, older adult caregivers are in particular need of support; we propose a Written Emotional Disclosure (WED) intervention, called Positive Written Disclosure (PWD). Methods/design: This is a pilot randomised controlled trial of PWD compared to a neutral writing control and a no writing condition. We aim to recruit 60 participants, 20 in each arm. This study will utilise a mixed-methods approach and collect quantitative (questionnaires) and qualitative (interviews) data. Quantitative data will be collected at baseline and 1, 3, and 6 months post baseline. Participants who complete a writing task (PWD or neutral writing control) will be invited to complete an exit interview to discuss their experiences of the intervention and study. The study is supported by a patient and public involvement group. Discussion: The results of this trial will determine whether a definitive trial is justified. If so, the quantitative and qualitative findings will be used to refine the intervention and study protocols. Trial registration: ISRCTN, ISRCTN79116352. Registered on 23 January 2017.

  • Guided self-help cognitive-behaviour Intervention for VoicEs (GiVE): Results from a pilot randomised controlled trial in a transdiagnostic sample.

    29 June 2018

    BACKGROUND: Few patients have access to cognitive behaviour therapy for psychosis (CBTp) even though at least 16 sessions of CBTp is recommended in treatment guidelines. Briefer CBTp could improve access as the same number of therapists could see more patients. In addition, focusing on single psychotic symptoms, such as auditory hallucinations ('voices'), rather than on psychosis more broadly, may yield greater benefits. METHOD: This pilot RCT recruited 28 participants (with a range of diagnoses) from NHS mental health services who were distressed by hearing voices. The study compared an 8-session guided self-help CBT intervention for distressing voices with a wait-list control. Data were collected at baseline and at 12weeks with post-therapy assessments conducted blind to allocation. Voice-impact was the pre-determined primary outcome. Secondary outcomes were depression, anxiety, wellbeing and recovery. Mechanism measures were self-esteem, beliefs about self, beliefs about voices and voice-relating. RESULTS: Recruitment and retention was feasible with low study (3.6%) and therapy (14.3%) dropout. There were large, statistically significant between-group effects on the primary outcome of voice-impact (d=1.78; 95% CIs: 0.86-2.70), which exceeded the minimum clinically important difference. Large, statistically significant effects were found on a number of secondary and mechanism measures. CONCLUSIONS: Large effects on the pre-determined primary outcome of voice-impact are encouraging, and criteria for progressing to a definitive trial are met. Significant between-group effects on measures of self-esteem, negative beliefs about self and beliefs about voice omnipotence are consistent with these being mechanisms of change and this requires testing in a future trial.

  • Preventing family transmission of anxiety: Feasibility RCT of a brief intervention for parents.

    29 June 2018

    OBJECTIVES: Children of anxious parents are at high risk of anxiety disorders themselves. The evidence suggests that this is due to environmental rather than genetic factors. However, we currently do little to reduce this risk of transmission. There is evidence that supporting parenting in those with mental health difficulties can ameliorate this risk. Therefore, the objective of this study was to test the feasibility of a new one-session, group-based, preventive parenting intervention for parents with anxiety disorders. DESIGN: Feasibility Randomized Controlled Trial. METHODS: A total of 100 parents with anxiety disorders, recruited from adult mental health services in England (and child aged 3-9 years), were randomized to receive the new intervention (a 1-day, group workshop), or to treatment as usual. Children's anxiety disorder and anxiety symptoms were assessed to 12 months by outcome assessors who were blind to group allocation. Exploratory analyses were conducted on an intention to treat basis, as far as possible. RESULTS: A total of 51 participants were randomized to the intervention condition and 49 to the control condition (82% and 80% followed to 12 months, respectively). The attendance rate was 59%, and the intervention was highly acceptable to parents who received it. The RCT was feasible, and 12-month follow-up attrition rates were low. Children whose parents were in the control condition were 16.5% more likely to have an anxiety disorder at follow-up than those in the intervention group. No adverse events were reported. CONCLUSIONS: An inexpensive, light-touch, psycho-educational intervention may be useful in breaking the intergenerational cycle of transmission of anxiety disorders. A substantive trial is warranted. PRACTITIONER POINTS: Anxiety disorders run in families, but we currently do little to help anxious parents to raise confident children. A brief group workshop was highly acceptable to such parents and was very inexpensive to run. Children of parents who took part in the brief intervention were 16.5% less likely to have an anxiety disorder, 1 year later, than children whose parents were in the control group. This was a feasibility study, and while it showed that both the intervention and the research were feasible, the study needs replicating with a much larger sample. Many parents faced barriers to attending the workshop, and future efforts should focus on widening accessibility. We were unable to obtain sufficient self-report data from children, so the outcomes are based on parent report only.

  • Spectrum of Fates: a new approach to the study of the developing zebrafish retina.

    29 June 2018

    The ability to image cells live and in situ as they proliferate and differentiate has proved to be an invaluable asset to biologists investigating developmental processes. Here, we describe a Spectrum of Fates approach that allows the identification of all the major neuronal subtypes in the zebrafish retina simultaneously. Spectrum of Fates is based on the combinatorial expression of differently coloured fluorescent proteins driven by the promoters of transcription factors that are expressed in overlapping subsets of retinal neurons. Here, we show how a Spectrum of Fates approach can be used to assess various aspects of neural development, such as developmental waves of differentiation, neuropil development, lineage tracing and hierarchies of fates in the developing zebrafish retina.