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During the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of telemedicine as a way to reduce COVID-19 infections was noted and consequently deregulated. However, the degree of telemedicine regulation varies from country to country, which may alter the widespread use of telemedicine. This study aimed to clarify the telepsychiatry regulations for each collaborating country/region before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We used snowball sampling within a global network of international telepsychiatry experts. Thirty collaborators from 17 different countries/regions responded to a questionnaire on barriers to the use and implementation of telepsychiatric care, including policy factors such as regulations and reimbursement at the end of 2019 and as of May 2020.
Thirteen of 17 regions reported a relaxation of regulations due to the pandemic; consequently, all regions surveyed stated that telepsychiatry was now possible within their public healthcare systems. In some regions, restrictions on prescription medications allowed via telepsychiatry were eased, but in 11 of the 17 regions, there were still restrictions on prescribing medications via telepsychiatry. Lower insurance reimbursement amounts for telepsychiatry consultations v. in-person consultations were reevaluated in four regions, and consequently, in 15 regions telepsychiatry services were reimbursed at the same rate (or higher) than in-person consultations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our results confirm that, due to COVID-19, the majority of countries surveyed are altering telemedicine regulations that had previously restricted the spread of telemedicine. These findings provide information that could guide future policy and regulatory decisions, which facilitate greater scale and spread of telepsychiatry globally.
Research has consistently shown that language abilities represent a core dimension of psychosis; however, to date, very little is known about syntactic comprehension performance in the early stages of psychosis. This study aims to compare the linguistic abilities involved in syntactic comprehension in a large group of First Episode Psychosis (FEP) patients and healthy controls (HCs).
A multiple choice test of comprehension of syntax was administered to 218 FEP patients (166 non-affective FEP patients [FEP-NA] and 52 affective FEP patients [FEP-A]) and 106 HCs. All participants were asked to match a sentence they listen with one out of four vignettes on a pc screen. Only one vignette represents the stimulus target, while the others are grammatical or non-grammatical (visual) distractors. Both grammatical and non-grammatical errors and performance in different syntactic constructions were considered.
FEP committed greater number of errors in the majority of TCGB language domains compared to HCs. Moreover, FEP-NA patients committed significantly more non-grammatical (z = −3.2, p = 0.007), locative (z = −4.7, p < 0.001), passive-negative (z = −3.2, p = 0.02), and relative (z = −4.6, p < 0.001) errors compared to HCs as well as more passive-affirmative errors compared to both HCs (z = −4.3, p < 0.001) and FEP-A (z = 3.1, p = 0.04). Finally, we also found that both FEP-NA and FEP-A committed more grammatical (FEP-NA: z = −9.2, p < 0.001 and FEP-A: z = −4.4, p < 0.001), total (FEP-NA: z = −8.2, p < 0.001 and FEP-A: z = 3.9, p = 0.002), and active-negative (FEP-NA: z = −5.8, p < 0.001 and FEP-A: z = −3.5, p = 0.01) errors compared to HCs.
This study shows that the access to syntactic structures is already impaired in FEP patients, especially in those with FEP-NA, ultimately suggesting that language impairments represent a core and inner feature of psychosis even at early stages.
The GET UP multi-element psychosocial intervention proved to be superior to treatment as usual in improving outcomes in patients with first-episode psychosis (FEP). However, to guide treatment decisions, information on which patients may benefit more from the intervention is warranted.
To identify patients' characteristics associated with (a) a better treatment response regardless of treatment type (non-specific predictors), and (b) a better response to the specific treatment provided (moderators).
Some demographic and clinical variables were selected a priori as potential predictors/moderators of outcomes at 9 months. Outcomes were analysed in mixed-effects random regression models. (Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT01436331.)
Analyses were performed on 444 patients. Education, duration of untreated psychosis, premorbid adjustment and insight predicted outcomes regardless of treatment. Only age at first contact with the services proved to be a moderator of treatment outcome (patients aged ≥35 years had greater improvement in psychopathology), thus suggesting that the intervention is beneficial to a broad array of patients with FEP.
Except for patients aged over 35 years, no specific subgroups benefit more from the multi-element psychosocial intervention, suggesting that this intervention should be recommended to all those with FEP seeking treatment in mental health services.
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