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Irrespective of our life paths, the ability to initiate and sustain effective interactions with others is a key determinant of success and fulfillment. Conflicts occur on a regular basis, hence a level of personal insight is vital. As physicians and healthcare professionals, we can help our patients by better understanding the components of emotional intelligence (EQ) and suggesting how they can incorporate the best attitudes and behaviors into their lives. We can be far more effective in this mission if we model the desired traits in our professional and personal actions. This standard is a challenge, given the often-demanding nature of our clinical responsibilities and the need to achieve balance with family and friends. Yet, it is vital if we are to maintain fulfillment throughout our lives.
The Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) Consortium, about 60 NIH-supported CTSA hubs at academic health care institutions nationwide, is charged with improving the clinical and translational research enterprise. Together with the NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), the Consortium implemented Common Metrics and a shared performance improvement framework.
Initial implementation across hubs was assessed using quantitative and qualitative methods over a 19-month period. The primary outcome was implementation of three Common Metrics and the performance improvement framework. Challenges and facilitators were elicited.
Among 59 hubs with data, all began implementing Common Metrics, but about one-third had completed all activities for three metrics within the study period. The vast majority of hubs computed metric results and undertook activities to understand performance. Differences in completion appeared in developing and carrying out performance improvement plans. Seven key factors affected progress: hub size and resources, hub prior experience with performance management, alignment of local context with needs of the Common Metrics implementation, hub authority in the local institutional structure, hub engagement (including CTSA Principal Investigator involvement), stakeholder engagement, and attending training and coaching.
Implementing Common Metrics and performance improvement in a large network of research-focused organizations proved feasible but required substantial time and resources. Considerable heterogeneity across hubs in data systems, existing processes and personnel, organizational structures, and local priorities of home institutions created disparate experiences across hubs. Future metric-based performance management initiatives across heterogeneous local contexts should anticipate and account for these types of differences.
Variations of circadian activity profiles and sleep patterns are altered in various neurospsychiatric disorders. In this context, changes in heart rate (HR), -variability (HRV) and related parameters have been reported, too. However, data situation is presently heterogeneous and nonstandard-ized. As long-term evaluation may provide more valuable information, applicability and data us-ability of a new data acquisition system was tested in patients with major depression.
The course of a depressive episode in inpatients was assessed by standard psychometric in-struments. ECG and motor activity were recorded continuously with a new wearable sensor sys-tem (EP04106001.3) consisting of a textile with three electrodes for 1-lead ECG recordings, and an electronic module (2D-accelerometer, microcontroller, memory, rechargeable batteries, Bluetooth unit) to be attached to the waistband of standard underpants.
ECG signal quality highly depended on physical activity, but sufficient data quality was obtained during sleep. From the accelerometer signal, time in bed and movement time were identifiable. Preliminary data of patients (n=15) versus healthy controls (n=9) showed a reduction of HRV in several time domain parameters, high frequency (HF) power, and daytime activity (24h/day, mean 8 weeks).
This first pilot study demonstrates alterations of physiological parameters potentially relevant for depression, with continuous monitoring of inpatient treatment period. Facing long-term monitoring the device proved to be robust and safe and might provide a psychobiological profile of the clini-cal course of depression, useful for evaluation of disorder and therapy.
This work is part of the European research project ‘MyHeart’ (6th framework, IST 507816).
The updated common rule, for human subjects research, requires that consents “begin with a ‘concise and focused’ presentation of the key information that will most likely help someone make a decision about whether to participate in a study” (Menikoff, Kaneshiro, Pritchard. The New England Journal of Medicine. 2017; 376(7): 613–615.). We utilized a community-engaged technology development approach to inform feature options within the REDCap software platform centered around collection and storage of electronic consent (eConsent) to address issues of transparency, clinical trial efficiency, and regulatory compliance for informed consent (Harris, et al. Journal of Biomedical Informatics 2009; 42(2): 377–381.). eConsent may also improve recruitment and retention in clinical research studies by addressing: (1) barriers for accessing rural populations by facilitating remote consent and (2) cultural and literacy barriers by including optional explanatory material (e.g., defining terms by hovering over them with the cursor) or the choice of displaying different videos/images based on participant’s race, ethnicity, or educational level (Phillippi, et al. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing. 2018; 47(4): 529–534.).
We developed and pilot tested our eConsent framework to provide a personalized consent experience whereby users are guided through a consent document that utilizes avatars, contextual glossary information supplements, and videos, to facilitate communication of information.
The eConsent framework includes a portfolio of eight features, reviewed by community stakeholders, and tested at two academic medical centers.
Early adoption and utilization of this eConsent framework have demonstrated acceptability. Next steps will emphasize testing efficacy of features to improve participant engagement with the consent process.
Cognitive impairment associated with lifetime major depressive disorder (MDD) is well-supported by meta-analytic studies, but population-based estimates remain scarce. Previous UK Biobank studies have only shown limited evidence of cognitive differences related to probable MDD. Using updated cognitive and clinical assessments in UK Biobank, this study investigated population-level differences in cognitive functioning associated with lifetime MDD.
Associations between lifetime MDD and cognition (performance on six tasks and general cognitive functioning [g-factor]) were investigated in UK Biobank (N-range 7,457–14,836, age 45–81 years, 52% female), adjusting for demographics, education, and lifestyle. Lifetime MDD classifications were based on the Composite International Diagnostic Interview. Within the lifetime MDD group, we additionally investigated relationships between cognition and (a) recurrence, (b) current symptoms, (c) severity of psychosocial impairment (while symptomatic), and (d) concurrent psychotropic medication use.
Lifetime MDD was robustly associated with a lower g-factor (β = −0.10, PFDR = 4.7 × 10−5), with impairments in attention, processing speed, and executive functioning (β ≥ 0.06). Clinical characteristics revealed differential profiles of cognitive impairment among case individuals; those who reported severe psychosocial impairment and use of psychotropic medication performed worse on cognitive tests. Severe psychosocial impairment and reasoning showed the strongest association (β = −0.18, PFDR = 7.5 × 10−5).
Findings describe small but robust associations between lifetime MDD and lower cognitive performance within a population-based sample. Overall effects were of modest effect size, suggesting limited clinical relevance. However, deficits within specific cognitive domains were more pronounced in relation to clinical characteristics, particularly severe psychosocial impairment.
Shared patient–clinician decision-making is central to choosing between medical treatments. Decision support tools can have an important role to play in these decisions. We developed a decision support tool for deciding between nonsurgical treatment and surgical total knee replacement for patients with severe knee osteoarthritis. The tool aims to provide likely outcomes of alternative treatments based on predictive models using patient-specific characteristics. To make those models relevant to patients with knee osteoarthritis and their clinicians, we involved patients, family members, patient advocates, clinicians, and researchers as stakeholders in creating the models.
Stakeholders were recruited through local arthritis research, advocacy, and clinical organizations. After being provided with brief methodological education sessions, stakeholder views were solicited through quarterly patient or clinician stakeholder panel meetings and incorporated into all aspects of the project.
Participating in each aspect of the research from determining the outcomes of interest to providing input on the design of the user interface displaying outcome predications, 86% (12/14) of stakeholders remained engaged throughout the project. Stakeholder engagement ensured that the prediction models that form the basis of the Knee Osteoarthritis Mathematical Equipoise Tool and its user interface were relevant for patient–clinician shared decision-making.
Methodological research has the opportunity to benefit from stakeholder engagement by ensuring that the perspectives of those most impacted by the results are involved in study design and conduct. While additional planning and investments in maintaining stakeholder knowledge and trust may be needed, they are offset by the valuable insights gained.
To determine sociodemographic factors associated with occupational, recreational and firearm-related noise exposure.
This nationally representative, multistage, stratified, cluster cross-sectional study sampled eligible National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey participants aged 20–69 years (n = 4675) about exposure to occupational and recreational noise and recurrent firearm usage, using a weighted multivariate logistic regression analysis.
Thirty-four per cent of participants had exposure to occupational noise and 12 per cent to recreational noise, and 13 per cent repeatedly used firearms. Males were more likely than females to have exposure to all three noise types (adjusted odds ratio range = 2.63–14.09). Hispanics and Asians were less likely to have exposure to the three noise types than Whites. Blacks were less likely than Whites to have occupational and recurrent firearm noise exposure. Those with insurance were 26 per cent less likely to have exposure to occupational noise than those without insurance (adjusted odds ratio = 0.74, 95 per cent confidence interval = 0.60–0.93).
Whites, males and uninsured people are more likely to have exposure to potentially hazardous loud noise.
Scientific quality and feasibility are part of ethics review by Institutional Review Boards (IRBs). Scientific Review Committees (SRCs) were proposed to facilitate this assessment by the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) SRC Consensus Group. This study assessed SRC feasibility and impact at CTSA-affiliated academic health centers (AHCs).
SRC implementation at 10 AHCs was assessed pre/post-intervention using quantitative and qualitative methods. Pre-intervention, four AHCs had no SRC, and six had at least one SRC needing modifications to better align with Consensus Group recommendations.
Facilitators of successful SRC implementation included broad-based communication, an external motivator, senior-level support, and committed SRC reviewers. Barriers included limited resources and staffing, variable local mandates, limited SRC authority, lack of anticipated benefit, and operational challenges. Research protocol quality did not differ significantly between study periods, but respondents suggested positive effects. During intervention, median total review duration did not lengthen for the 40% of protocols approved within 3 weeks. For the 60% under review after 3 weeks, review was lengthened primarily due to longer IRB review for SRC-reviewed protocols. Site interviews recommended designing locally effective SRC processes, building buy-in by communication or by mandate, allowing time for planning and sharing best practices, and connecting SRC and IRB procedures.
The CTSA SRC Consensus Group recommendations appear feasible. Although not conclusive in this relatively short initial implementation, sites perceived positive impact by SRCs on study quality. Optimal benefit will require local or federal mandate for implementation, adapting processes to local contexts, and employing SRC stipulations.
Epidemiological studies indicate that individuals with one type of mental disorder have an increased risk of subsequently developing other types of mental disorders. This study aimed to undertake a comprehensive analysis of pair-wise lifetime comorbidity across a range of common mental disorders based on a diverse range of population-based surveys.
The WHO World Mental Health (WMH) surveys assessed 145 990 adult respondents from 27 countries. Based on retrospectively-reported age-of-onset for 24 DSM-IV mental disorders, associations were examined between all 548 logically possible temporally-ordered disorder pairs. Overall and time-dependent hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated using Cox proportional hazards models. Absolute risks were estimated using the product-limit method. Estimates were generated separately for men and women.
Each prior lifetime mental disorder was associated with an increased risk of subsequent first onset of each other disorder. The median HR was 12.1 (mean = 14.4; range 5.2–110.8, interquartile range = 6.0–19.4). The HRs were most prominent between closely-related mental disorder types and in the first 1–2 years after the onset of the prior disorder. Although HRs declined with time since prior disorder, significantly elevated risk of subsequent comorbidity persisted for at least 15 years. Appreciable absolute risks of secondary disorders were found over time for many pairs.
Survey data from a range of sites confirms that comorbidity between mental disorders is common. Understanding the risks of temporally secondary disorders may help design practical programs for primary prevention of secondary disorders.
This paper summarizes a multi-state, multi-year study assessing the potential for local agriculture in northern New England. While largely rural, this region's agricultural sector differs greatly from the rest of the United States, and demand for locally produced food has been increasing. To assess this unique economic landscape, researchers and Cooperative Extension at the Universities of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont investigated four key areas: (1) local food capacities, (2) constraints to agricultural expansion, (3) consumer preferences for local and organic produce, and (4) the role of intermediaries as alternative local food outlets. The project included input from local farmers, Extension members, restaurants, and the general public. We present the four research areas in a sequential, overlapping fashion. The timing of our research was such that each step in the process informed the next and can be used as a template for assessing a region's potential for local agricultural production.
Condominium is an architecture of land ownership that produces separate, privately owned units within multi-unit developments. Condominium also constructs a form of private, democratic government, described as a fourth order of government, that acts beneath federal and provincial governments, and alongside municipal government, to govern owners and their property. This article considers a conflict between residential-unit owners and a commercial-unit owner within a condominium development in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Drawing from material produced in litigation, the article situates the dispute within its property and urban contexts to argue that condominium government requires attention, and not just for its impact on owners, or even residents within, but also because cities must now account for, work alongside, and, in some circumstances, contend with these rapidly proliferating sites of government that are helping to shape who has the right to live in the city.
The Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) Consortium and the National Center for Advancing Translational Science (NCATS) undertook a Common Metrics Initiative to improve research processes across the national CTSA Consortium. This was implemented by Tufts Clinical and Translational Science Institute at the 64 CTSA academic medical centers. Three metrics were collaboratively developed by NCATS staff, CTSA Consortium teams, and outside consultants for Institutional Review Board Review Duration, Careers in Clinical and Translational Research, and Pilot Award Publications and Subsequent Funding. The implementation program included training on the metric operational guidelines, data collection, data reporting system, and performance improvement framework. The implementation team provided small-group coaching and technical assistance. Collaborative learning sessions, driver diagrams, and change packages were used to disseminate best and promising practices. After 14 weeks, 84% of hubs had produced a value for one metric and about half had produced an initial improvement plan. Overall, hubs reported that the implementation activities facilitated their Common Metrics performance improvement process. Experiences implementing the first three metrics can inform future directions of the Common Metrics Initiative and other research groups implementing standardized metrics and performance improvement processes, potentially including other National Institutes of Health institutes and centers.
Computational acceleration of performance metric-based materials discovery via high-throughput screening and machine learning methods is becoming widespread. Nevertheless, development and optimization of the opto-electronic properties that depend on dilute concentrations of point defects in new materials have not significantly benefited from these advances. Here, the authors present an informatics and simulation suite to computationally accelerate these processes. This will enable faster and more fundamental materials research, and reduce the cost and time associated with the materials development cycle. Analogous to the new avenues enabled by current first-principles-based property databases, this type of framework will open entire new research frontiers as it proliferates.
The COllaborative project of Development of Anthropometrical measures in Twins (CODATwins) project is a large international collaborative effort to analyze individual-level phenotype data from twins in multiple cohorts from different environments. The main objective is to study factors that modify genetic and environmental variation of height, body mass index (BMI, kg/m2) and size at birth, and additionally to address other research questions such as long-term consequences of birth size. The project started in 2013 and is open to all twin projects in the world having height and weight measures on twins with information on zygosity. Thus far, 54 twin projects from 24 countries have provided individual-level data. The CODATwins database includes 489,981 twin individuals (228,635 complete twin pairs). Since many twin cohorts have collected longitudinal data, there is a total of 1,049,785 height and weight observations. For many cohorts, we also have information on birth weight and length, own smoking behavior and own or parental education. We found that the heritability estimates of height and BMI systematically changed from infancy to old age. Remarkably, only minor differences in the heritability estimates were found across cultural–geographic regions, measurement time and birth cohort for height and BMI. In addition to genetic epidemiological studies, we looked at associations of height and BMI with education, birth weight and smoking status. Within-family analyses examined differences within same-sex and opposite-sex dizygotic twins in birth size and later development. The CODATwins project demonstrates the feasibility and value of international collaboration to address gene-by-exposure interactions that require large sample sizes and address the effects of different exposures across time, geographical regions and socioeconomic status.
Substantial clinical heterogeneity of major depressive disorder (MDD) suggests it may group together individuals with diverse aetiologies. Identifying distinct subtypes should lead to more effective diagnosis and treatment, while providing more useful targets for further research. Genetic and clinical overlap between MDD and schizophrenia (SCZ) suggests an MDD subtype may share underlying mechanisms with SCZ.
The present study investigated whether a neurobiologically distinct subtype of MDD could be identified by SCZ polygenic risk score (PRS). We explored interactive effects between SCZ PRS and MDD case/control status on a range of cortical, subcortical and white matter metrics among 2370 male and 2574 female UK Biobank participants.
There was a significant SCZ PRS by MDD interaction for rostral anterior cingulate cortex (RACC) thickness (β = 0.191, q = 0.043). This was driven by a positive association between SCZ PRS and RACC thickness among MDD cases (β = 0.098, p = 0.026), compared to a negative association among controls (β = −0.087, p = 0.002). MDD cases with low SCZ PRS showed thinner RACC, although the opposite difference for high-SCZ-PRS cases was not significant. There were nominal interactions for other brain metrics, but none remained significant after correcting for multiple comparisons.
Our significant results indicate that MDD case-control differences in RACC thickness vary as a function of SCZ PRS. Although this was not the case for most other brain measures assessed, our specific findings still provide some further evidence that MDD in the presence of high genetic risk for SCZ is subtly neurobiologically distinct from MDD in general.