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UK Biobank is a well-characterised cohort of over 500 000 participants including genetics, environmental data and imaging. An online mental health questionnaire was designed for UK Biobank participants to expand its potential.
Describe the development, implementation and results of this questionnaire.
An expert working group designed the questionnaire, using established measures where possible, and consulting a patient group. Operational criteria were agreed for defining likely disorder and risk states, including lifetime depression, mania/hypomania, generalised anxiety disorder, unusual experiences and self-harm, and current post-traumatic stress and hazardous/harmful alcohol use.
A total of 157 366 completed online questionnaires were available by August 2017. Participants were aged 45–82 (53% were ≥65 years) and 57% women. Comparison of self-reported diagnosed mental disorder with a contemporary study shows a similar prevalence, despite respondents being of higher average socioeconomic status. Lifetime depression was a common finding, with 24% (37 434) of participants meeting criteria and current hazardous/harmful alcohol use criteria were met by 21% (32 602), whereas other criteria were met by less than 8% of the participants. There was extensive comorbidity among the syndromes. Mental disorders were associated with a high neuroticism score, adverse life events and long-term illness; addiction and bipolar affective disorder in particular were associated with measures of deprivation.
The UK Biobank questionnaire represents a very large mental health survey in itself, and the results presented here show high face validity, although caution is needed because of selection bias. Built into UK Biobank, these data intersect with other health data to offer unparalleled potential for crosscutting biomedical research involving mental health.
Depression and chronic inflammatory medical conditions have been linked to impaired cognitive ability. However despite frequent comorbidity, their combined association with cognitive ability has rarely been examined.
This study examined associations between self-reported depression and chronic inflammatory diseases and their interaction with cognitive performance in 456,748 participants of the UK Biobank, adjusting for sociodemographic and lifestyle factors. Numbers with available data ranged from 94,899 to 453,208 depending on the cognitive test.
Self-reported depression was associated with poorer performance compared to controls in several cognitive tests (fully adjusted models, reaction time: B = 6.08, 95% CI = 5.09, 7.07; pairs matching: incidence rate ratio = 1.02, 95% CI = 1.02, 1.03; Trail Making Test B: B = 1.37, 95% CI = 0.88, 1.87; Digit Symbol Substitution Test (DSST): B = −0.35, 95% CI = −0.44, −0.27). Self-reported chronic inflammatory conditions were associated with slower reaction time (B = 3.79, 95% CI = 2.81, 4.78) and lower DSST scores (B = −0.21, 95% CI = −0.30, −0.13). No interaction effects were observed.
In this large, population-based study we provide evidence of lower cognitive performance in both depression and a comprehensive category of chronic inflammatory conditions. Results are consistent with additive effects of both types of disorder on cognitive ability. Clinicians should be aware of such effects, particularly as cognitive impairment is linked to poorer disease outcomes and quality of life.
Cognitive impairment is strongly linked with persistent disability in people with mood disorders, but the factors that explain cognitive impairment in this population are unclear.
To estimate the total effect of (a) bipolar disorder and (b) major depression on cognitive function, and the magnitude of the effect that is explained by potentially modifiable intermediate factors.
Cross-sectional study using baseline data from the UK Biobank cohort. Participants were categorised as having bipolar disorder (n = 2709), major depression (n = 50 975) or no mood disorder (n = 102 931 and n = 105 284). The outcomes were computerised tests of reasoning, reaction time and memory. The potential mediators were cardiometabolic disease and psychotropic medication. Analyses were informed by graphical methods and controlled for confounding using regression, propensity score-based methods and G-computation.
Group differences of small magnitude were found on a visuospatial memory test. Z-score differences for the bipolar disorder group were in the range −0.23 to −0.17 (95% CI −0.39 to −0.03) across different estimation methods, and for the major depression group they were approximately −0.07 (95% CI −0.10 to −0.03). One-quarter of the effect was mediated via psychotropic medication in the bipolar disorder group (−0.05; 95% CI −0.09 to −0.01). No evidence was found for mediation via cardiometabolic disease.
In a large community-based sample in middle to early old age, bipolar disorder and depression were associated with lower visuospatial memory performance, in part potentially due to psychotropic medication use. Mood disorders and their treatments will have increasing importance for population cognitive health as the proportion of older adults continues to grow.
Declaration of interest
I.J.D. is a UK Biobank participant. J.P.P. is a member of the UK Biobank Steering Committee.
UK Biobank is a well-characterised cohort of over 500 000 participants that offers unique opportunities to investigate multiple diseases and risk factors.
An online mental health questionnaire completed by UK Biobank participants was expected to expand the potential for research into mental disorders.
An expert working group designed the questionnaire, using established measures where possible, and consulting with a patient group regarding acceptability. Case definitions were defined using operational criteria for lifetime depression, mania, anxiety disorder, psychotic-like experiences and self-harm, as well as current post-traumatic stress and alcohol use disorders.
157 366 completed online questionnaires were available by August 2017. Comparison of self-reported diagnosed mental disorder with a contemporary study shows a similar prevalence, despite respondents being of higher average socioeconomic status than the general population across a range of indicators. Thirty-five per cent (55 750) of participants had at least one defined syndrome, of which lifetime depression was the most common at 24% (37 434). There was extensive comorbidity among the syndromes. Mental disorders were associated with high neuroticism score, adverse life events and long-term illness; addiction and bipolar affective disorder in particular were associated with measures of deprivation.
The questionnaire represents a very large mental health survey in itself, and the results presented here show high face validity, although caution is needed owing to selection bias. Built into UK Biobank, these data intersect with other health data to offer unparalleled potential for crosscutting biomedical research involving mental health.
Declaration of interest
G.B. received grants from the National Institute for Health Research during the study; and support from Illumina Ltd. and the European Commission outside the submitted work. B.C. received grants from the Scottish Executive Chief Scientist Office and from The Dr Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation during the study. C.S. received grants from the Medical Research Council and Wellcome Trust during the study, and is the Chief Scientist for UK Biobank. M.H. received grants from the Innovative Medicines Initiative via the RADAR-CNS programme and personal fees as an expert witness outside the submitted work.
The relative contribution of demographic, lifestyle and medication factors to the association between affective disorders and cardiometabolic diseases is poorly understood.
To assess the relationship between cardiometabolic disease and features of depresion and bipolar disorder within a large population sample.
Cross-sectional study of 145 991 UK Biobank participants: multivariate analyses of associations between features of depression or bipolar disorder and five cardiometabolic outcomes, adjusting for confounding factors.
There were significant associations between mood disorder features and ‘any cardiovascular disease’ (depression odds ratio (OR) = 1.15, 95% CI 1.12–1.19; bipolar OR = 1.28, 95% CI 1.14–1.43) and with hypertension (depression OR = 1.15, 95% CI 1.13–1.18; bipolar OR = 1.26, 95% CI 1.12–1.42). Individuals with features of mood disorder taking psychotropic medication were significantly more likely than controls not on psychotropics to report myocardial infarction (depression OR = 1.47, 95% CI 1.24–1.73; bipolar OR = 2.23, 95% CI 1.53–3.57) and stroke (depression OR = 2.46, 95% CI 2.10–2.80; bipolar OR = 2.31, 95% CI 1.39–3.85).
Associations between features of depression or bipolar disorder and cardiovascular disease outcomes were statistically independent of demographic, lifestyle and medication confounders. Psychotropic medication may also be a risk factor for cardiometabolic disease in individuals without a clear history of mood disorder.
There is controversy about whether late-onset schizophrenia is a precursor of cognitive decline.
To examine the long-term outcome of a group of patients with late-onset schizophrenia.
Patients with onset of DSM–III–R schizophrenia at age 50 years or over, but without dementia, and a healthy control group were assessed at baseline (n=27 and n=34, respectively), after 1 year and after 5 years (n=19 and n=24, respectively) on measures of psychopathology, cognition and general functioning, and compared on rates of decline and incidence of dementia.
Nine patients with late-onset schizophrenia and none of the control group were found to have dementia (5 Alzheimer type, 1 vascular, 3 dementia of unknown type) at 5-year follow-up. There appeared to be a subgroup of late-onset schizophrenia patients without signs of dementia at baseline or at 1 year follow-up who subsequently declined.
Late-onset schizophrenia may be a prodrome of Alzheimer-type dementia. More longitudinal studies are required to determine its nosological status.
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