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Worldwide, individuals with severe psychiatric illnesses struggle to receive evidence-based care. While science has made remarkably slow progress in the development and implementation of effective psychiatric treatments, we have witnessed enormous progress in the emergence and global penetration of personal computing technology. The present paper examines how digital resources that are already widespread (e.g., smartphones, laptop computers), can be leveraged to support psychiatric care. These instruments and implementation strategies can increase patient access to evidenced-based care, help individuals overcome the barriers associated with the stigma of mental illness, and facilitate new treatment paradigms that harness wireless communication, sensors and the Internet, to enhance treatment potency. Innovative digital treatment programmes that have been used successfully with a range of conditions (i.e., schizophrenia, posttraumatic stress disorder and borderline personality disorder) are presented in the paper to demonstrate the utility and potential impact of technology-based interventions in the years ahead.
There are several converging forces that create a particularly opportune time for technological solutions to enhance cost efficiency in healthcare. Health care costs are unsustainable, yet many patients do not have adequate access to state-of-the-art treatments or to ongoing disease management. Consumerism is an increasingly powerful force in healthcare and the emphasis on personalised medicine will help to define future research and clinical treatment strategies. At the same time, the phenomenal advances in internet utilisation and mobile device applications provide possibilities that have never before existed. We have reason to be very optimistic about these opportunities, but appropriate research will be required to develop scalable and sustainable methods as well as determine expected outcomes.
Although the mechanism by which antidepressants (ADs) may increase the risk of suicide-related outcomes is unknown, it has been hypothesised that some adverse effects, including akathisia, insomnia and panic attacks, as well as an early energising effect that might allow patients with depression to act on suicidal impulses, may have a key role. Considering that these adverse effects are dose-related, it might be hypothesised that the risk of suicidal behaviour is similarly related to the AD dose. This research question has recently been addressed by a propensity score-matched observational cohort study that involved 162 625 patients aged 10–64 years with a depression diagnosis who initiated therapy with citalopram, sertraline or fluoxetine. In this commentary, we discuss the main findings of this study in view of its methodological strengths and limitations, and we suggest possible implications for day-to-day clinical practice.
Progressive enlargement of basal ganglia volume has been observed in schizophrenia individuals, potentially being sustained by chronic administration of antipsychotic drugs. Here we briefly summarise the state of the art of the role of antipsychotic in leading to increased basal ganglia in schizophrenia, particularly focusing on the caudate nucleus.
Mental health care in the second half of the 20th century in much of the developed world has been dominated by the move out from large asylums. Both in response to this move and to make it possible, a pattern of care has evolved which is most commonly referred to as ‘Community Psychiatry’. This narrative review describes this process, from local experimentation into the current era of evidence-based mental health care. It focuses on three main areas of this development: (i) the reprovision of care for those discharged during deinstitutionalisation; (ii) the evolution and evaluation of its characteristic feature the Community Mental Health Team; and (iii) the increasing sophistication of psychosocial interventions developed to support patients. It finishes with an overview of some current challenges.
In England, people with a serious mental illness are offered a standardized care plan under the Care Programme Approach (CPA). A crisis plan is a mandatory part of this standard; however, the quality and in particular the level of individualisation of these crisis plans are unknown. In this context, the aim of this study was to assess the quality of crisis planning and the impact of exposure to a specialized crisis planning intervention.
The crisis plans of 424 participants were assessed, before and after exposure to the Joint Crisis Plan (JCP) intervention, for ‘individualisation’ (i.e., at least one item of specific and identifiable information about an individual). Associations of individualisation were investigated.
A total of 15% of crisis plans were individualised at baseline. There was little or no improvement following exposure to the JCP. Individualised crisis plans were not associated with a history of prior crises or incidences of harm to self and others.
Routine crisis planning for individuals with serious mental illness is not influenced by clinical risk profiles. ‘Top down’ implementation of the policy is unlikely to generate the best practice and compliance if clinicians do not perceive the clinical value in the process.
The extent to which psychiatric disorders are associated with an increased risk of violence to partners is unclear. This review aimed to establish risk of violence against partners among men and women with diagnosed psychiatric disorders.
Systematic review and meta-analysis. Searches of eleven electronic databases were supplemented by hand searching, reference screening and citation tracking of included articles, and expert recommendations.
Seventeen studies were included, reporting on 72 585 participants, but only three reported on past year violence. Pooled risk estimates could not be calculated for past year violence against a partner and the three studies did not consistently report increased risk for any diagnosis. Pooled estimates showed an increased risk of having ever been physically violent towards a partner among men with depression (odds ratio (OR) 2.8, 95% confidence intervals (CI) 2.5–3.3), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) (OR 3.2, 95% CI 2.3–4.4) and panic disorder (OR 2.5, 95% CI C% 1.7–3.6). Increased risk was also found among women with depression (OR 2.4, 95% CI 2.1–2.8), GAD (OR 2.4, 95% CI 1.9–3.0) and panic disorder (OR 1.9, 95% CI 1.4–2.5).
Psychiatric disorders are associated with high prevalence and increased odds of having ever been physically violent against a partner. As history of violence is a predictor of current violence, mental health professionals should ask about previous partner violence when assessing risk.
Well-being is important for people with severe mental illness, such as psychosis. So far, no clear concept of well-being exists for this client group. A recent systematic review and narrative synthesis developed a static framework of well-being components. The present study aims to validate the static framework and to illuminate the processes by which well-being is experienced by people with psychosis.
Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 23 service users with psychosis exploring their experience of well-being. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the data employing techniques taken from grounded theory to enhance the rigour of the analysis. Respondent validation was undertaken with 13 of the 23 participants.
Three superordinate categories of well-being were identified: current sense of self; transition to enhanced sense of self and enhanced sense of self. In the dynamic process of improving well-being the current sense of self undergoes a transition to an enhanced sense of self. The four factors influencing the transition are consistent with the static framework of well-being, hence validating the static framework. In addition, we identified three determinants of current sense of self and seven indicators of enhanced sense of self, which represent the achievement of improved well-being.
This study provides an empirically defensible framework for understanding well-being in terms of determinants, influences and indicators. The influences are targets for interventions to improve well-being, and the indicators are outcome domains to assess the effectiveness of services in supporting well-being.
For people with psychosis, contact with informal caregivers is an important source of social support, associated with recovery, and with better outcomes following individual cognitive therapy (CBTp). In this study, we tested whether increased flexibility in delusional thinking, an established predictor of positive outcome following CBTp, was a possible mechanism underlying this effect.
219 participants with delusions (mean age 38 years; 71% male; 75% White) were grouped according to the presence of a caregiver (37% with a caregiver) and caregiver level of expressed emotion (High/Low EE, 64% Low). Delusional belief flexibility was compared between groups, controlling for interpersonal functioning, severity of psychotic symptoms, and other hypothesised outcome predictors.
Participants with caregivers were nearly three times more likely than those without to show flexibility (OR = 2.7, 95% CI 1.5 to 5.0, p = 0.001), and five times more likely if the caregiving relationship was Low EE (OR = 5.0, 95% CI 2.0–13.0, p = 0.001). ORs remained consistent irrespective of controlling for interpersonal functioning and other predictors of outcome.
This is the first evidence that having supportive caregiving relationships is associated with a specific cognitive attribute in people with psychosis, suggesting a potential cognitive mechanism by which outcomes following CBTp, and perhaps more generally, are improved by social support.
Many studies of various stress reactive phenotypes suggest that 5-HTTLPR short allele carriers (S-carriers) are characterised by the stable trait of negative affectivity that is converted to psychopathology only under conditions of stress. In this study, we examined the moderating role of the 5-HTTLPR on the relationship between two objective chronic risk factors, i.e. socioeconomic status (SES) and family structure, and internalising symptoms across adolescence.
A multigroup path analysis was employed in a general adolescent population sample of a 5-year follow-up study.
Internalising problems were significantly more stable in the S-carriers. The focus on the main dimensions of internalising problems, i.e. anxiety and depression, revealed two different developmental patterns. In the S-carriers Anxiety problems seemed to be more stable and to predict a possible evolution towards the development of Depressive problems. In the long allele homozygotes (LL-subjects) the anxiety trait was significantly less stable, and, in late-adolescence, seemed to be significantly predicted by SES, suggesting a possible gene–environment interaction (G × E). Family structure seemed to play a role in a G × E perspective only until early-adolescence, while during late-adolescence SES seemed to play a pivotal role in interaction with 5-HTTLPR, with the S-allele playing a protective role.
Future models of the developmental link between environmental adversities and internalising behaviour therefore need to consider that the effect of G × E interaction, may be associated with internalising behaviour via different mechanisms during different time frames and that shifts in the strength of this effect should be expected across development.