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An essential strategy to increase coverage of psychosocial treatments globally is task shifting to non-medical counsellors, but evidence on its effectiveness is still scarce. This study evaluates the effectiveness of lay psychosocial counselling among persons with psychological distress in a primary health care setting in rural Nepal.
A parallel randomized controlled trial in Dang, rural Nepal (NCT03544450). Persons aged 16 and older attending primary care and with a General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12) score of 6 or more were randomized (1:1) to receive either non-medical psychosocial counselling (PSY) or enhanced usual care (EUC). PSY was provided by lay persons with a 6-month training and consisted of 5-weekly counselling sessions of 35–60 min with a culturally adapted solution-focused approach. EUC was provided by trained primary health workers. Participants were followed up at 1 (T1) and 6 months (T2). The primary outcome, response to treatment, was the reduction of minimum 50% in the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) score.
A total of 141 participants, predominantly socially disadvantaged women, were randomized to receive PSY and 146 to EUC. In the PSY, 123 participants and 134 in the EUC were analysed. In PSY, 101 participants (81.4%) had a response compared with 57 participants (42.5%) in EUC [percentage difference 39.4% (95% CI 28.4–50.4)]. The difference in BDI scores at T2 between PSY and EUC was −7.43 (95% CI −9.71 to −5.14).
Non-medical (lay) psychosocial counselling appears effective in reducing depressive symptoms, and its inclusion in mental health care should be considered in low-resource settings.
Being breastfed in infancy has been shown to benefit neurodevelopment. However, whether the benefits persist to old age remains unclear.
We examined the associations between breastfeeding and its duration on cognitive ability in young adulthood and old age, and on aging-related cognitive change over five decades. In total, 931 men from the Helsinki Birth Cohort Study born in 1934–1944 in Finland took the Finnish Defence Forces Basic Intellectual Ability Test (total and verbal, arithmetic and visuospatial subtest scores) twice, at ages 20.2 and 67.9 years, and had data on breastfeeding (yes v. no) and its duration (‘never breastfed’, ‘up to 3’, ‘3 to 6’ and ‘6 or more months’). Linear and mixed model regressions tested the associations.
At 20.2 years, breastfed men had higher cognitive ability total and visuospatial subtest scores [mean differences (MDs) ranged between 3.0–3.9, p values < 0.013], and its longer duration predicted higher cognitive ability total and arithmetic and visuospatial subtest scores (MDs ranged between 3.0 and 4.8, p values < 0.039). At 67.9 years, breastfed men had higher total cognitive ability and all subtest scores (MDs ranged between 2.6 and 3.4, p values < 0.044) and its longer duration predicted all cognitive ability scores (MDs ranged between 3.1 and 4.7, p values < 0.050). Verbal subtest scores decreased over five decades in men who were never breastfed or were breastfed for 3 months or less, and increased in those breastfed for longer than 3 months.
Neurodevelopmental advantages of breastfeeding and its longer duration persist into old age, and longer duration of breastfeeding may benefit aging-related change, particularly in verbal reasoning ability.
Late preterm births constitute the majority of preterm births. However, most evidence suggesting that preterm birth predicts the risk of mental disorders comes from studies on earlier preterm births. We examined if late preterm birth predicts the risks of severe mental disorders from early to late adulthood. We also studied whether adulthood mental disorders are associated with post-term birth or with being born small (SGA) or large (LGA) for gestational age, which have been previously associated with psychopathology risk in younger ages.
Of 12 597 Helsinki Birth Cohort Study participants, born 1934–1944, 664 were born late preterm, 1221 post-term, 287 SGA, and 301 LGA. The diagnoses of mental disorders were identified from national hospital discharge and cause of death registers from 1969 to 2010. In total, 1660 (13.2%) participants had severe mental disorders.
Individuals born late preterm did not differ from term-born individuals in their risk of any severe mental disorder. However, men born late preterm had a significantly increased risk of suicide. Post-term birth predicted significantly increased risks of any mental disorder in general and particularly of substance use and anxiety disorders. Individuals born SGA had significantly increased risks of any mental and substance use disorders. Women born LGA had an increased risk of psychotic disorders.
Although men born late preterm had an increased suicide risk, late preterm birth did not exert widespread effects on adult psychopathology. In contrast, the risks of severe mental disorders across adulthood were increased among individuals born SGA and individuals born post-term.
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