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Dignity therapy (DT) is designed to address psychological and existential challenges that terminally ill individuals face. DT guides patients in developing a written legacy project in which they record and share important memories and messages with those they will leave behind. DT has been demonstrated to ease existential concerns for adults with advanced-stage cancer; however, lack of institutional resources limits wide implementation of DT in clinical practice. This study explores qualitative outcomes of an abbreviated, less resource-intensive version of DT among participants with advanced-stage cancer and their legacy project recipients.
Qualitative methods were used to analyze postintervention interviews with 11 participants and their legacy recipients as well as the created legacy projects. Direct content analysis was used to assess feedback from the interviews about benefits, barriers, and recommendations regarding abbreviated DT. The legacy projects were coded for expression of core values.
Findings suggest that abbreviated DT effectively promotes (1) self-expression, (2) connection with loved ones, (3) sense of purpose, and (4) continuity of self. Participants observed that leading the development of their legacy projects promoted independent reflection, autonomy, and opportunities for family interaction when reviewing and discussing the projects. Consistent with traditional DT, participants expressed “family” as the most common core value in their legacy projects. Expression of “autonomy” was also a notable finding.
Significance of results
Abbreviated DT reduces resource barriers to conducting traditional DT while promoting similar benefits for participants and recipients, making it a promising adaptation warranting further research. The importance that patients place on family and autonomy should be honored as much as possible by those caring for adults with advanced-stage cancer.
Our understanding of the complex relationship between schizophrenia symptomatology and etiological factors can be improved by studying brain-based correlates of schizophrenia. Research showed that impairments in value processing and executive functioning, which have been associated with prefrontal brain areas [particularly the medial orbitofrontal cortex (MOFC)], are linked to negative symptoms. Here we tested the hypothesis that MOFC thickness is associated with negative symptom severity.
This study included 1985 individuals with schizophrenia from 17 research groups around the world contributing to the ENIGMA Schizophrenia Working Group. Cortical thickness values were obtained from T1-weighted structural brain scans using FreeSurfer. A meta-analysis across sites was conducted over effect sizes from a model predicting cortical thickness by negative symptom score (harmonized Scale for the Assessment of Negative Symptoms or Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale scores).
Meta-analytical results showed that left, but not right, MOFC thickness was significantly associated with negative symptom severity (βstd = −0.075; p = 0.019) after accounting for age, gender, and site. This effect remained significant (p = 0.036) in a model including overall illness severity. Covarying for duration of illness, age of onset, antipsychotic medication or handedness weakened the association of negative symptoms with left MOFC thickness. As part of a secondary analysis including 10 other prefrontal regions further associations in the left lateral orbitofrontal gyrus and pars opercularis emerged.
Using an unusually large cohort and a meta-analytical approach, our findings point towards a link between prefrontal thinning and negative symptom severity in schizophrenia. This finding provides further insight into the relationship between structural brain abnormalities and negative symptoms in schizophrenia.
A systematic review was conducted to evaluate whether healthier dietary consumption among children and adolescents impacts executive functioning. PubMed, Education Resources Information Center, PsychINFO and Thomson Reuters’ Web of Science databases were searched, and studies of executive functioning among children or adolescents aged 6–18 years, which examined food quality, macronutrients and/or foods, were included. Study quality was also assessed. In all, twenty-one studies met inclusion criteria. Among the twelve studies examining food quality (n 9) or macronutrient intakes (n 4), studies examining longer-term diet (n 6) showed positive associations between healthier overall diet quality and executive functioning, whereas the studies examining the acute impact of diet (n 6) were inconsistent but suggestive of improvements in executive functioning with better food quality. Among the ten studies examining foods, overall, there was a positive association between healthier foods (e.g. whole grains, fish, fruits and/or vegetables) and executive function, whereas less-healthy snack foods, sugar-sweetened beverages and red/processed meats were inversely associated with executive functioning. Taken together, evidence suggests a positive association between healthy dietary consumption and executive functioning. Additional studies examining the effects of healthier food consumption, as well as macronutrients, on executive functioning are warranted. These studies should ideally be conducted in controlled environments and use validated cognitive tests.
Metabolic adaptation includes an array of concerted metabolic and endocrine events that enable dairy cows bridging the period of energy deficit at the onset of lactation. The present study evaluated metabolic, endocrine and reticuloruminal pH changes in 30 (25 Holstein and five Simmental) periparturient dairy cows experiencing variable lipolysis early postpartum. Cows were fed the same close-up and fresh lactation diets and kept in the same management conditions. Blood samples were collected at day 14, and day 4, relative to expected parturition, and at day 2, and day 21 postpartum, and serum metabolites and hormones related to glucose and lipid metabolism, as well as concentrations of several liver enzymes and acute phase proteins were determined. Additionally, reticuloruminal pH was monitored every 10 min over the last 3 days of the observation period. BW and milk yields were recorded and balances of energy and protein were assessed. Based on serum concentration of non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA) postpartum, cows were retrospectively classified into low (n=8), medium (n=11), and high (n=11) lipolysis groups, with NEFA levels of <0.4 mmol/l, between 0.4 and 0.7 mmol/l, and >0.7 mmol/l, respectively. Overall, elevated NEFA concentrations in the High group went along with a higher ratio of NEFA to cholesterol and reduced insulin sensitivity. While serum glucose, energy deficit and BW loss did not differ, cows of the High group exhibited increased lactate concentrations in the serum, compared with the Medium group. No differences in liver enzymes and acute phase proteins were evidenced among fat mobilization groups, whereas concentration of serum billirubin was lowest in the Low group after parturition. Data of milk yield and milk energy output showed no differences among groups, despite divergences in calculated energy balance and BW change postpartum. Cows of the Low group tended to increase dry matter intake but also showed longer time duration of pH below 6.0 in the reticulorumen (on average 299 min/day compared with 99 and 91 min/day for Medium and High groups, respectively). Differences in metabolic, endocrine and reticuloruminal pH responses indicate diverse metabolic adaptation strategies of early-lactation cows to cope with energy deficit postpartum.
Civilian suicide rates vary by occupation in ways related to occupational stress exposure. Comparable military research finds suicide rates elevated in combat arms occupations. However, no research has evaluated variation in this pattern by deployment history, the indicator of occupation stress widely considered responsible for the recent rise in the military suicide rate.
The joint associations of Army occupation and deployment history in predicting suicides were analysed in an administrative dataset for the 729 337 male enlisted Regular Army soldiers in the US Army between 2004 and 2009.
There were 496 suicides over the study period (22.4/100 000 person-years). Only two occupational categories, both in combat arms, had significantly elevated suicide rates: infantrymen (37.2/100 000 person-years) and combat engineers (38.2/100 000 person-years). However, the suicide rates in these two categories were significantly lower when currently deployed (30.6/100 000 person-years) than never deployed or previously deployed (41.2–39.1/100 000 person-years), whereas the suicide rate of other soldiers was significantly higher when currently deployed and previously deployed (20.2–22.4/100 000 person-years) than never deployed (14.5/100 000 person-years), resulting in the adjusted suicide rate of infantrymen and combat engineers being most elevated when never deployed [odds ratio (OR) 2.9, 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.1–4.1], less so when previously deployed (OR 1.6, 95% CI 1.1–2.1), and not at all when currently deployed (OR 1.2, 95% CI 0.8–1.8). Adjustment for a differential ‘healthy warrior effect’ cannot explain this variation in the relative suicide rates of never-deployed infantrymen and combat engineers by deployment status.
Efforts are needed to elucidate the causal mechanisms underlying this interaction to guide preventive interventions for soldiers at high suicide risk.
To examine cross-national patterns and correlates of lifetime and 12-month comorbid DSM-IV anxiety disorders among people with lifetime and 12-month DSM-IV major depressive disorder (MDD).
Nationally or regionally representative epidemiological interviews were administered to 74 045 adults in 27 surveys across 24 countries in the WHO World Mental Health (WMH) Surveys. DSM-IV MDD, a wide range of comorbid DSM-IV anxiety disorders, and a number of correlates were assessed with the WHO Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI).
45.7% of respondents with lifetime MDD (32.0–46.5% inter-quartile range (IQR) across surveys) had one of more lifetime anxiety disorders. A slightly higher proportion of respondents with 12-month MDD had lifetime anxiety disorders (51.7%, 37.8–54.0% IQR) and only slightly lower proportions of respondents with 12-month MDD had 12-month anxiety disorders (41.6%, 29.9–47.2% IQR). Two-thirds (68%) of respondents with lifetime comorbid anxiety disorders and MDD reported an earlier age-of-onset (AOO) of their first anxiety disorder than their MDD, while 13.5% reported an earlier AOO of MDD and the remaining 18.5% reported the same AOO of both disorders. Women and previously married people had consistently elevated rates of lifetime and 12-month MDD as well as comorbid anxiety disorders. Consistently higher proportions of respondents with 12-month anxious than non-anxious MDD reported severe role impairment (64.4 v. 46.0%; χ21 = 187.0, p < 0.001) and suicide ideation (19.5 v. 8.9%; χ21 = 71.6, p < 0.001). Significantly more respondents with 12-month anxious than non-anxious MDD received treatment for their depression in the 12 months before interview, but this difference was more pronounced in high-income countries (68.8 v. 45.4%; χ21 = 108.8, p < 0.001) than low/middle-income countries (30.3 v. 20.6%; χ21 = 11.7, p < 0.001).
Patterns and correlates of comorbid DSM-IV anxiety disorders among people with DSM-IV MDD are similar across WMH countries. The narrow IQR of the proportion of respondents with temporally prior AOO of anxiety disorders than comorbid MDD (69.6–74.7%) is especially noteworthy. However, the fact that these proportions are not higher among respondents with 12-month than lifetime comorbidity means that temporal priority between lifetime anxiety disorders and MDD is not related to MDD persistence among people with anxious MDD. This, in turn, raises complex questions about the relative importance of temporally primary anxiety disorders as risk markers v. causal risk factors for subsequent MDD onset and persistence, including the possibility that anxiety disorders might primarily be risk markers for MDD onset and causal risk factors for MDD persistence.
Though poorly defined, hypersomnia is associated with negative health outcomes and new-onset and recurrence of psychiatric illness. Lack of definition impedes generalizability across studies. The present research clarifies hypersomnia diagnoses in bipolar disorder by exploring possible subgroups and their relationship to prospective sleep data and relapse into mood episodes.
A community sample of 159 adults (aged 18–70 years) with bipolar spectrum diagnoses, euthymic at study entry, was included. Self-report inventories and clinician-administered interviews determined features of hypersomnia. Participants completed sleep diaries and wore wrist actigraphs at home to obtain prospective sleep data. Approximately 7 months later, psychiatric status was reassessed. Factor analysis and latent profile analysis explored empirical groupings within hypersomnia diagnoses.
Factor analyses confirmed two separate subtypes of hypersomnia (‘long sleep’ and ‘excessive sleepiness’) that were uncorrelated. Latent profile analyses suggested a four-class solution, with ‘long sleep’ and ‘excessive sleepiness’ again representing two separate classes. Prospective sleep data suggested that the sleep of ‘long sleepers’ is characterized by a long time in bed, not long sleep duration. Longitudinal assessment suggested that ‘excessive sleepiness’ at baseline predicted mania/hypomania relapse.
This study is the largest of hypersomnia to include objective sleep measurement, and refines our understanding of classification, characterization and associated morbidity. Hypersomnia appears to be comprised of two separate subgroups: long sleep and excessive sleepiness. Long sleep is characterized primarily by long bedrest duration. Excessive sleepiness is not associated with longer sleep or bedrest, but predicts relapse to mania/hypomania. Understanding these entities has important research and treatment implications.
The Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers (Army STARRS) has found that the proportional elevation in the US Army enlisted soldier suicide rate during deployment (compared with the never-deployed or previously deployed) is significantly higher among women than men, raising the possibility of gender differences in the adverse psychological effects of deployment.
Person-month survival models based on a consolidated administrative database for active duty enlisted Regular Army soldiers in 2004–2009 (n = 975 057) were used to characterize the gender × deployment interaction predicting suicide. Four explanatory hypotheses were explored involving the proportion of females in each soldier's occupation, the proportion of same-gender soldiers in each soldier's unit, whether the soldier reported sexual assault victimization in the previous 12 months, and the soldier's pre-deployment history of treated mental/behavioral disorders.
The suicide rate of currently deployed women (14.0/100 000 person-years) was 3.1–3.5 times the rates of other (i.e. never-deployed/previously deployed) women. The suicide rate of currently deployed men (22.6/100 000 person-years) was 0.9–1.2 times the rates of other men. The adjusted (for time trends, sociodemographics, and Army career variables) female:male odds ratio comparing the suicide rates of currently deployed v. other women v. men was 2.8 (95% confidence interval 1.1–6.8), became 2.4 after excluding soldiers with Direct Combat Arms occupations, and remained elevated (in the range 1.9–2.8) after adjusting for the hypothesized explanatory variables.
These results are valuable in excluding otherwise plausible hypotheses for the elevated suicide rate of deployed women and point to the importance of expanding future research on the psychological challenges of deployment for women.
Although variation in the long-term course of major depressive disorder (MDD) is not strongly predicted by existing symptom subtype distinctions, recent research suggests that prediction can be improved by using machine learning methods. However, it is not known whether these distinctions can be refined by added information about co-morbid conditions. The current report presents results on this question.
Data came from 8261 respondents with lifetime DSM-IV MDD in the World Health Organization (WHO) World Mental Health (WMH) Surveys. Outcomes included four retrospectively reported measures of persistence/severity of course (years in episode; years in chronic episodes; hospitalization for MDD; disability due to MDD). Machine learning methods (regression tree analysis; lasso, ridge and elastic net penalized regression) followed by k-means cluster analysis were used to augment previously detected subtypes with information about prior co-morbidity to predict these outcomes.
Predicted values were strongly correlated across outcomes. Cluster analysis of predicted values found three clusters with consistently high, intermediate or low values. The high-risk cluster (32.4% of cases) accounted for 56.6–72.9% of high persistence, high chronicity, hospitalization and disability. This high-risk cluster had both higher sensitivity and likelihood ratio positive (LR+; relative proportions of cases in the high-risk cluster versus other clusters having the adverse outcomes) than in a parallel analysis that excluded measures of co-morbidity as predictors.
Although the results using the retrospective data reported here suggest that useful MDD subtyping distinctions can be made with machine learning and clustering across multiple indicators of illness persistence/severity, replication with prospective data is needed to confirm this preliminary conclusion.
Mineral nitrogen (N) fertilization in cereals is commonly split into three or four applications. In order to simplify N fertilization, a single N application either broadcast or placed on the soil surface was compared to conventionally split fertilization for winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.). The 4-year experiment (2007–2010) was performed using a participatory approach on farmers’ fields on deep loamy soils (Luvisols) in South-West Germany.
Grain yield and crude protein contents differed only slightly or not at all between treatments including different N fertilizer types (calcium ammonium nitrate, urea ammonium nitrate solution, urea) and application techniques (broadcast, placed). Furthermore, no differences were found for the yield components ears/m2 and thousand grain weight. Inorganic N in the soil profile after harvest was generally below 40 kg N/ha and did not differ between treatments. In the area where N was placed, mineral N was depleted during the vegetation period.
At the experimental sites a single N application in the period between tillering and stem elongation was sufficient to achieve high yield and quality of winter wheat without increased risk of nitrate leaching. This finding was independent of the method of application or the type of fertilizer.
The US Army suicide rate has increased sharply in recent years. Identifying significant predictors of Army suicides in Army and Department of Defense (DoD) administrative records might help focus prevention efforts and guide intervention content. Previous studies of administrative data, although documenting significant predictors, were based on limited samples and models. A career history perspective is used here to develop more textured models.
The analysis was carried out as part of the Historical Administrative Data Study (HADS) of the Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers (Army STARRS). De-identified data were combined across numerous Army and DoD administrative data systems for all Regular Army soldiers on active duty in 2004–2009. Multivariate associations of sociodemographics and Army career variables with suicide were examined in subgroups defined by time in service, rank and deployment history.
Several novel results were found that could have intervention implications. The most notable of these were significantly elevated suicide rates (69.6–80.0 suicides per 100 000 person-years compared with 18.5 suicides per 100 000 person-years in the total Army) among enlisted soldiers deployed either during their first year of service or with less than expected (based on time in service) junior enlisted rank; a substantially greater rise in suicide among women than men during deployment; and a protective effect of marriage against suicide only during deployment.
A career history approach produces several actionable insights missed in less textured analyses of administrative data predictors. Expansion of analyses to a richer set of predictors might help refine understanding of intervention implications.
Lack of coordination between screening studies for common mental disorders in primary care and community epidemiological samples impedes progress in clinical epidemiology. Short screening scales based on the World Health Organization (WHO) Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI), the diagnostic interview used in community epidemiological surveys throughout the world, were developed to address this problem.
Expert reviews and cognitive interviews generated CIDI screening scale (CIDI-SC) item pools for 30-day DSM-IV-TR major depressive episode (MDE), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder (PD) and bipolar disorder (BPD). These items were administered to 3058 unselected patients in 29 US primary care offices. Blinded SCID clinical reinterviews were administered to 206 of these patients, oversampling screened positives.
Stepwise regression selected optimal screening items to predict clinical diagnoses. Excellent concordance [area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC)] was found between continuous CIDI-SC and DSM-IV/SCID diagnoses of 30-day MDE (0.93), GAD (0.88), PD (0.90) and BPD (0.97), with only 9–38 questions needed to administer all scales. CIDI-SC versus SCID prevalence differences are insignificant at the optimal CIDI-SC diagnostic thresholds (χ21 = 0.0–2.9, p = 0.09–0.94). Individual-level diagnostic concordance at these thresholds is substantial (AUC 0.81–0.86, sensitivity 68.0–80.2%, specificity 90.1–98.8%). Likelihood ratio positive (LR+) exceeds 10 and LR− is 0.1 or less at informative thresholds for all diagnoses.
CIDI-SC operating characteristics are equivalent (MDE, GAD) or superior (PD, BPD) to those of the best alternative screening scales. CIDI-SC results can be compared directly to general population CIDI survey results or used to target and streamline second-stage CIDIs.
Current trends in population aging affect both recipients and providers of informal family caregiving, as the pool of family caregivers is shrinking while demand is increasing. Epidemiological research has not yet examined the implications of these trends for burdens experienced by aging family caregivers.
Cross-sectional community surveys in 20 countries asked 13 892 respondents aged 50+ years about the objective (time, financial) and subjective (distress, embarrassment) burdens they experience in providing care to first-degree relatives with 12 broadly defined serious physical and mental conditions. Differential burden was examined by country income category, kinship status and type of condition.
Among the 26.9–42.5% respondents in high-, upper-middle-, and low-/lower-middle-income countries reporting serious relative health conditions, 35.7–42.5% reported burden. Of those, 25.2–29.0% spent time and 13.5–19.4% money, while 24.4–30.6% felt distress and 6.4–21.7% embarrassment. Mean caregiving hours per week in those giving any time were 16.6–23.6 (169.9–205.8 h/week per 100 people aged 50+ years). Burden in low-/lower-middle-income countries was 2- to 3-fold higher than in higher-income countries, with any financial burden averaging 14.3% of median family income in high-, 17.7% in upper-middle-, and 39.8% in low-/lower-middle-income countries. Higher burden was reported by women than men and for conditions of spouses and children than parents or siblings.
Uncompensated family caregiving is an important societal asset that offsets rising formal healthcare costs. However, the substantial burdens experienced by aging caregivers across multiple family health conditions and geographic regions threaten the continued integrity of their caregiving capacity. Initiatives supporting older family caregivers are consequently needed, especially in low-/lower-middle-income countries.
Between 2000 and 2009, the total number of patients with Clostridium difficile infections increased considerably in Southeastern Germany. A clear seasonality was observed with a higher number of affected patients occurring in the winter months (January–March). Moxifloxacin and erythromycin-resistant C. difficile PCR ribotypes 001 (72%) and 027 (4·6%) were the most commonly isolated strains.
A turbulent flame–wall interaction (FWI) configuration is studied using three-dimensional direct numerical simulation (DNS) and detailed chemical kinetics. The simulations are used to investigate the effects of the wall turbulent boundary layer (i) on the structure of a hydrogen–air premixed flame, (ii) on its near-wall propagation characteristics and (iii) on the spatial and temporal patterns of the convective wall heat flux. Results show that the local flame thickness and propagation speed vary between the core flow and the boundary layer, resulting in a regime change from flamelet near the channel centreline to a thickened flame at the wall. This finding has strong implications for the modelling of turbulent combustion using Reynolds-averaged Navier–Stokes or large-eddy simulation techniques. Moreover, the DNS results suggest that the near-wall coherent turbulent structures play an important role on the convective wall heat transfer by pushing the hot reactive zone towards the cold solid surface. At the wall, exothermic radical recombination reactions become important, and are responsible for approximately 70% of the overall heat release rate at the wall. Spectral analysis of the convective wall heat flux provides an unambiguous picture of its spatial and temporal patterns, previously unobserved, that is directly related to the spatial and temporal characteristic scalings of the coherent near-wall turbulent structures.