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The British Association of Psychopharmacology awards two bursaries each year to commemorate Robert Kerwin’s efforts in supporting and mentoring early career researchers. Nicola Hall, Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Psychiatry, has been awarded the Robert Kerwin International Conference Bursary.
Symptom severity moderates the outcome of attention bias modification for depression: An exploratory study.
A recent meta-analysis has questioned the relevance of attention bias modification (ABM) for depression outcomes. However, there might be patient characteristics not yet accounted for, that are relevant to the outcome. In the context of personalized treatment, the lack of moderator studies have limited the potential for matching ABM-treatment to individual patient characteristics. Subjects (N = 301) were randomly assigned 1:1 to receive either active or placebo Attention Bias Modification (ABM) twice daily for 14 days in a double-blind design (placebo n = 148; ABM n = 153). The outcome was change in symptoms based on the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS). Moderator variables were self-reported depression (Beck Depression Inventory-II; BDI-II), anxiety (Beck Anxiety Inventory; BAI) and attentional bias (AB) assessed at baseline. This trial was registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT02658682. Only BAI (p for interaction = .01, Bootstrap 95% CI [0.046, 0.337]) moderated the effects of ABM on change in clinician rated depressive symptoms. Interactions were significant for BAI scores ≥8. The relative effect of the intervention increased with the highest symptom load. ABM was not effective in patients with the lowest symptom load. Future research should validate this finding and continue investigating moderators of the ABM-intervention to further enhance personalization of treatment to individual symptom characteristics.
Can curriculum design influence medical students' attitudes to psychiatry? A comparison of two different approaches.
Medical students with poor attitudes toward psychiatry are unlikely to choose it as a career, and current psychiatry recruitment is inadequate for future NHS needs. Amending medical school curricula has been suggested as one solution. We performed a unique naturalistic mixed-methods cross-sectional survey of two sequential cohorts in a UK medical school, before and after the restructuring of the entire MBChB curriculum. As well as increasing integration with other specialties, the emphasis placed on psychiatry increased throughout the course, but the final psychiatry block reduced from 8 to 6 weeks. Students experiencing the refreshed curriculum had better attitudes to psychiatry and psychiatric patients and were more positive about psychiatry as a career for themselves and others, compared to students on the old curriculum. This was demonstrated both quantitatively using validated rating scales (12/30 questions ATP-30 and 1/6 questions PEAK-6) and qualitatively using free-text responses. Restructuring undergraduate medical curricula to enhance integration may yield added value, including the potential to improve attitudes to specialties previously learned in silos, such as psychiatry. This may improve recruitment and the understanding of mental health for all future doctors.
Background Insomnia is a prevalent and debilitating disorder commonly managed by family physicians. Insomnia guidelines recommend cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBTi) as the 'first-line' treatment. However, family physicians report limited time, knowledge, access, support, and referral options to manage patients with CBTi. Consequently, many patients with insomnia are prescribed potentially harmful and addictive sedative-hypnotic medicines (e.g. benzodiazepines). Family physicians require an insomnia management pathway that is specifically tailored to the guideline-recommendations, time demands, and capacity of family practice. Methods This mixed-methods implementation trial will test the feasibility, acceptability and effectiveness of a comprehensive digital insomnia management pathway in family practice. This novel pathway includes digital recruitment of family physicians, automatic identification of patients whose electronic medical records contain recent sedative-hypnotic prescriptions using a software management pathway and real-time notifications prompting physicians to refer patients to a well-established digital CBTi program. At least 10 family physicians and 375 patients with insomnia will be recruited. Physicians will be provided with an eBook to guide gradual sedative-hypnotic withdrawal. Feasibility and acceptability will be assessed from the perspective of patients and physicians. Effectiveness will be determined by co-primary outcomes: cessation of sedative-hypnotic use, and improvement in self-reported insomnia symptoms from baseline to 12-month follow-up. Analysis of trends in costs, cost-effectiveness and cost-utility analyses will be conducted from a societal perspective. Results and discussion This implementation trial will pave the way for future scaling-up of this insomnia management pathway to improve access to CBTi and reduce reliance on sedative-hypnotic medicines in family practice. Trial Registration: This trial was prospectively registered on the Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ANZCTR) (ACTRN12619001539123).
Does adjunctive digital CBT for insomnia improve clinical outcomes in an improving access to psychological therapies service?
BACKGROUND: Insomnia has a bidirectional relationship with broader mental health functioning, including anxiety and depression. Yet, poor sleep has historically been neglected as a specific treatment target in mental health programmes (Freeman, Sheaves, Waite, Harvey, & Harrison, 2020). METHOD: All patients over a 12-month period entering the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) service endorsing a 'poor sleep' questionnaire item at assessment, were offered a self-guided digital sleep intervention, Sleepio, in addition to routine care. Sleepio is based on the principles of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I). Propensity score matching established a non-Sleepio control group matched on demographic and baseline clinical measures. RESULTS: Patients who signed up to Sleepio (n = 510) achieved significantly better outcomes on core clinical metrics (PHQ-9, GAD-7, WSAS) than controls. IAPT recovery rates1 (on PHQ-9 and GAD-7) were 64.7%, versus 58% in the control group. Duration of clinical contact time was marginally elevated overall in the Sleepio group but by less than 1 h CONCLUSIONS: Significant clinical benefit was associated with the introduction of an evidence-based digital sleep intervention alongside other mental health interventions for depression and anxiety. Widespread deployment was achieved with immediate availability, minimal additional clinical time or staff training. This approach provides a feasible and highly scalable model for improving mental health outcomes in clinical services.
No causal associations between childhood family income and subsequent psychiatric disorders, substance misuse and violent crime arrests: a nationwide Finnish study of >650 000 individuals and their siblings.
BACKGROUND: Childhood family income has been shown to be associated with later psychiatric disorders, substance misuse and violent crime, but the consistency, strength and causal nature of these associations remain unclear. METHODS: We conducted a nationwide cohort and co-sibling study of 650 680 individuals (426 886 siblings) born in Finland between 1986 and 1996 to re-examine these associations by accounting for unmeasured confounders shared between siblings. The participants were followed up from their 15th birthday until they either migrated, died, met criteria for the outcome of interest or reached the end of the study period (31 December 2017 or 31 December 2018 for substance misuse). The associations were adjusted for sex, birth year and birth order, and expressed as adjusted hazard ratios (aHRs). The outcomes included a diagnosis of a severe mental illness (schizophrenia-spectrum disorders or bipolar disorder), depression and anxiety. Substance misuse (e.g. medication prescription, hospitalization or death due to a substance use disorder or arrest for drug-related crime) and violent crime arrests were also examined. Stratified Cox regression models accounted for unmeasured confounders shared between differentially exposed siblings. RESULTS: For each $15 000 increase in family income at age 15 years, the risks of the outcomes were reduced by between 9% in severe mental illness (aHR = 0.91; 95% confidence interval: 0.90-0.92) and 23% in violent crime arrests (aHR = 0.77; 0.76-0.78). These associations were fully attenuated in the sibling-comparison models (aHR range: 0.99-1.00). Sensitivity analyses confirmed the latter findings. CONCLUSIONS: Associations between childhood family income and subsequent risks for psychiatric disorders, substance misuse and violent crime arrest were not consistent with a causal interpretation.
Processes and challenges associated with establishing a linked national suicide database across the criminal justice system.
Introduction: There is a wealth of data contained within healthcare and criminal justice system (CJS) datasets that, if successfully linked, could provide more information about this population, particularly those offenders who die in non-custodial CJS settings where, comparatively, much less is known. Objectives: This study aims to determine feasibility of conducting data linkage across key criminal justice datasets and outline the processes, methodological considerations and any other implications of setting up such a linkage. Method: Five CJS datasets were identified for potential inclusion for linkage with Office for National Statistics (ONS) mortality data. Respective data teams were contacted, and scoping discussions were held via email, telephone contact and in person. Information was sought on available data, quality and completeness, unique identifiers, processes for record matching, cost implications, estimated timescales, required approvals, data security considerations and quality of data. Results: All five datasets were deemed important to include and responses from data teams suggest that the proposed linkage is both feasible and valuable, within a reasonable timeframe and with minimal associated costs. The discovery of an additional 'spine' dataset provides a more effective method of record matching by linking police identifiers to unique prison and probation identifiers. Conclusions: The proposed linkage could highlight key points across the criminal justice system at which to target suicide prevention strategies. A more comprehensive linkage, including healthcare services, would further extend the opportunity to target interventions.
White matter hyperintensities classified according to intensity and spatial location reveal specific associations with cognitive performance.
White matter hyperintensities (WMHs) on T2-weighted images are radiological signs of cerebral small vessel disease. As their total volume is variably associated with cognition, a new approach that integrates multiple radiological criteria is warranted. Location may matter, as periventricular WMHs have been shown to be associated with cognitive impairments. WMHs that appear as hypointense in T1-weighted images (T1w) may also indicate the most severe component of WMHs. We developed an automatic method that sub-classifies WMHs into four categories (periventricular/deep and T1w-hypointense/nonT1w-hypointense) using MRI data from 684 community-dwelling older adults from the Whitehall II study. To test if location and intensity information can impact cognition, we derived two general linear models using either overall or subdivided volumes. Results showed that periventricular T1w-hypointense WMHs were significantly associated with poorer performance in the trail making A (p = 0.011), digit symbol (p = 0.028) and digit coding (p = 0.009) tests. We found no association between total WMH volume and cognition. These findings suggest that sub-classifying WMHs according to both location and intensity in T1w reveals specific associations with cognitive performance.
Association of ideal cardiovascular health at age 50 with incidence of dementia: 25 year follow-up of Whitehall II cohort study.
OBJECTIVES: To examine the association between the Life Simple 7 cardiovascular health score at age 50 and incidence of dementia. DESIGN: Prospective cohort study. SETTING: Civil service departments in London (Whitehall II study; study inception 1985-88). PARTICIPANTS: 7899 participants with data on the cardiovascular health score at age 50. EXPOSURES: The cardiovascular health score included four behavioural (smoking, diet, physical activity, body mass index) and three biological (fasting glucose, blood cholesterol, blood pressure) metrics, coded on a three point scale (0, 1, 2). The cardiovascular health score was the sum of seven metrics (score range 0-14) and was categorised into poor (scores 0-6), intermediate (7-11), and optimal (12-14) cardiovascular health. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Incident dementia, identified through linkage to hospital, mental health services, and mortality registers until 2017. RESULTS: 347 incident cases of dementia were recorded over a median follow-up of 24.7 years. Compared with an incidence rate of dementia of 3.2 (95% confidence interval 2.5 to 4.0) per 1000 person years among the group with poor cardiovascular health, the absolute rate differences per 1000 person years were -1.5 (95% confidence interval -2.3 to -0.7) for the group with intermediate cardiovascular health and -1.9 (-2.8 to -1.1) for the group with optimal cardiovascular health. Higher cardiovascular health score was associated with a lower risk of dementia (hazard ratio 0.89 (0.85 to 0.95) per 1 point increment in the cardiovascular health score). Similar associations with dementia were observed for the behavioural and biological subscales (hazard ratios per 1 point increment in the subscores 0.87 (0.81 to 0.93) and 0.91 (0.83 to 1.00), respectively). The association between cardiovascular health at age 50 and dementia was also seen in people who remained free of cardiovascular disease over the follow-up (hazard ratio 0.89 (0.84 to 0.95) per 1 point increment in the cardiovascular health score). CONCLUSION: Adherence to the Life Simple 7 ideal cardiovascular health recommendations in midlife was associated with a lower risk of dementia later in life.
© 2017 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. Although several dierent image modalities will be described, neuroimaging studies of brain function in dementia largely fall into two categories: (1) the study of resting blood ow and (2) measurement of brain changes due to a specic task. is chapter starts with a brief description of methods of emission tomography, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and diusion tensor imaging (DTI) before describing applications in patients.
Innate and adaptive immunity in the development of depression: An update on current knowledge and technological advances.
The inflammation theory of depression, proposed over 20years ago, was influenced by early studies on T cell responses and since then has been a stimulus for numerous research projects aimed at understanding the relationship between immune function and depression. Observational studies have shown that indicators of immunity, especially C reactive protein and proinflammatory cytokines, such as interleukin 6, are associated with an increased risk of depressive disorders, although the evidence from randomized trials remains limited and only few studies have assessed the interplay between innate and adaptive immunity in depression. In this paper, we review current knowledge on the interactions between central and peripheral innate and adaptive immune molecules and the potential role of immune-related activation of microglia, inflammasomes and indoleamine-2,3-dioxygenase in the development of depressive symptoms. We highlight how combining basic immune methods with more advanced 'omics' technologies would help us to make progress in unravelling the complex associations between altered immune function and depressive disorders, in the identification of depression-specific biomarkers and in developing immunotherapeutic treatment strategies that take individual variability into account.