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Background: For the rising number of people living with dementia, cost-effective community-based interventions to support psychosocial care are needed. The FindMyApps program helps people with dementia and their caregivers learn to use tablet computers and find user-friendly apps that facilitate self-management and engagement in meaningful activities. This definitive trial builds on previous feasibility pilot trials of FindMyApps and further evaluates cost-effectiveness.
Method: This is a protocol for a non-blinded randomized controlled trial (RCT) with two arms (intervention and usual care). 150 dyads (person with dementia and their carer) will be recruited. Participants must be resident in the community, with a diagnosis of Mild Cognitive Impairment or mild dementia (Mini Mental-State Examination 17-26, or Global Deterioration Scale 3-4. Dyads will be randomly assigned in equal proportions to receive either the FindMyApps intervention (experimental arm) or usual care (control arm). Primary outcomes measured at 3 months will be: patient self-management and social participation; caregiver sense of competence. Data will be collected through questionnaires filled in by the researcher (patient outcomes) or participants themselves (carer outcomes). In addition to a main effect analysis, a cost-effectiveness analysis will take place. In line with Medical Research Council (MRC) guidance for the evaluation of complex interventions, a process analysis will be undertaken, to identify factors that may influence trial outcomes. Semi-structured interviews and remotely collected data regarding use of the FindMyApps app will support the process analysis.
Result: Results of this study are expected in 2022. The study will be adequately powered to detect at least a moderate effect size of the intervention with respect to the primary outcomes.
Conclusion: This study will investigate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the FindMyApps intervention. The results of the study will provide strong evidence to support or oppose scaling up implementation of the intervention. This is also an example of how the MRC framework for the evaluation of complex interventions can be implemented in practice. In a field which is often criticized for a lack of high quality evidence, randomized controlled trials should be applied more frequently designed for the robust and transparent evaluation of digital tools and technologies.
Schizotypy is a putative risk phenotype for psychosis liability, but the overlap of its genetic architecture with schizophrenia is poorly understood.
We tested the hypothesis that dimensions of schizotypy (assessed with the SPQ-B) are associated with a polygenic risk score (PRS) for schizophrenia in a sample of 623 psychiatrically healthy, non-clinical subjects from the FOR2107 multi-centre study and a second sample of 1133 blood donors.
We did not find correlations of schizophrenia PRS with either overall SPQ or specific dimension scores, nor with adjusted schizotypy scores derived from the SPQ (addressing inter-scale variance). Also, PRS for affective disorders (bipolar disorder and major depression) were not significantly associated with schizotypy.
This important negative finding demonstrates that despite the hypothesised continuum of schizotypy and schizophrenia, schizotypy might share less genetic risk with schizophrenia than previously assumed (and possibly less compared to psychotic-like experiences).
In neuroleptic long-term medication, only part of the patients accept regular intake of neuroleptic drugs. The question is whether an interval medication regimen as opposed to continuous medication can help to reduce drop outs in patients with critical attitudes towards long-term medication. In a 2-year prospective study, 122 patients were randomised to an interval and 164 to a continuous neuroleptic medication regimen. The drop out rates were 62.5% in the interval and 53.7% in the continuous medication group. Drop outs generally show more negative attitudes towards treatment. Patients with negative attitudes do not do better under interval medication. Moreover, this regimen even requires more cooperation and trust in terms of the necessity of medication on the part of the patient compared to the continuous medication regimen. Interval medication therefore is a strategy which can only be successful in highly cooperative, but not in treatment-reluctant patients.
We report on the case of a patient who developed an acute meningitis and, after a period of about two weeks, without any neuropsychiatric problems, an acute paranoid-hallucinatory and catatonic syndrome. The symptomatology is discussed, in relation with the diagnostic difficulties of differentiating between a biphasic meningo-encephalitis with an organic psychosis or a first manifestation of an endogenous psychosis.
In acquired peripheral demyelinating disease only few publications point out the possibility of simultaneous involvement of the CNS. We describe two patients with chronic polyneuropathy and monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) developing a progressive dementia syndrome with extensive cerebral white matter alterations.
We report the case of a 68-year-old depressive patient who developed severe thrombocytopenia during hospitalization. EDTA-associated thrombocytopenia and psychodrug-induced thrombocytopenia are illustrated as potential causes of low platelet counts, particularly in regard to psychiatric patients.
In terms of the phenomenology of schizophrenia, there are four targets for drug treatments: positive symptoms, negative symptoms, affective dysfunction, and cognitive dysfunction. Because of the side-effects of both conventional antipsychotics and the new atypicals, there still is a need to search for better-tolerated antipsychotics. Conventional antipsychotics have two principal limitations: 30–40% of patients have an insufficient response to them, and they have a large variety of adverse effects. Side-effects will reduce patients’ compliance with treatment, as well as their immediate quality of life, and may therefore unfavorably affect rehabilitation. Four principal features differentiate atypical from conventional antipsychotics, yet have not been established for all atypicals: fewer extrapyramidal side-effects, greater efficacy in the treatment of negative symptoms, specific pharmacological receptor binding profiles, and greater selective effect on the mesolimbic dopamine neurons than on nigrostriatal neurons. The pharmacological profile of amisulpride is completely different to that of other atypical antipsychotics. It has a high selectivity for D2 and D3 dopamine receptors, and thus would be expected to be devoid of unwanted side-effects associated with action on other neurotransmitter systems. It acts preferentially on the mesocortical and mesolimbic systems. It has an earlier onset of action than haloperidol. Amisulpride is a compound with a dual mode of action. At low doses it blocks presynaptic dopamine autoreceptors, inducing an increased dopaminergic neurotransmission, and at high doses it blocks postsynaptic dopaminergic activity. It is at least as effective as haloperidol, flupenthixol, and risperidone in controlling positive symptoms, as well as having efficacy for negative symptoms. It has less propensity to induce weight gain than do other atypical antipsychotics. For the 60–80% of patients with schizophrenia who require long-term treatment, drug tolerability is crucially important, as it will improve compliance, and therefore reduce relapse rate.
Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is currently discussed as a therapeutic intervention in various psychiatric disorders. Based on the report about the effectiveness of tDCS in a patient with catatonic schizophrenia, we applied bilateral prefrontal tDCS in a patient with corpus callosum aplasia (CCA) and severe catatonia instead of maintenance electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).
To investigate whether tDCS can replace ECT in a largely treatment-resistant patient.
The 41 year-old male patient showed severe catatonic symptoms since adolescence and was treated by weekly ECT for almost 6 years. Due to cardiac complications and increasing cognitive deficits caused by long-term ECT and weekly anesthesia, tDCS was suggested. The anode was positioned over the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), the cathode over the right DLPFC. 2mA tDCS was delivered for 2x 20 minutes (90 minutes break in between), three times a week for the first two weeks, thereafter once to twice weekly. Concomitant medication (clozapine 600 mg/d, aripiprazole 10 mg/d, pirenzepine 50 mg/d, lorazepam 3 mg/d) was continued.
So far, more than 20 double sessions of tDCS were applied. ECT was needed once after a period of hospitalisation for 10 days due to pneumonia. Since then the patient has solely received tDCS for more than 13 weeks. Catatonic symptoms resolved further under tDCS compared to ECT (Bush-Francis Catatonia Rating Scale: 27/69 points during ECT, 5/69 during tDCS).
tDCS in combination with neuroleptic treatment could be an alternative to ECT in organic catatonia. Further studies are needed to support our hypothesis.
Patients with a first episode psychosis (FEP) have repeatedly been shown to have gray matter (GM) volume alterations. Some of these neuroanatomical abnormalities are already evident in the at-risk mental state (ARMS) for psychosis. Not only GM alterations but also neurocognitive impairments predate the onset of frank psychosis with verbal learning and memory (VLM) being among the most impaired domains. Yet, their interconnection with alterations in GM volumes remains ambiguous.
To evaluate associations of different subcortical GM volumes in the medial temporal lobe with VLM performance in ARMS and FEP patients.
Data were collected within the prospective Früherkennung von Psychosen (FePsy) study, which aims to improve the early detection of psychosis. VLM was assessed using the California Verbal Learning Test (CVLT) and its latent variables Attention Span (AS), Learning Efficiency (LE), Delayed Memory (DM) and Inaccurate Memory (IM). Structural images were acquired using a 3 Tesla magnetic resonance imaging scanner.
Data from 59 ARMS and 47 FEP patients were analysed. Structural equation models revealed significant associations between the amygdala and AS, LE and IM; thalamus and LE and IM; and the caudate, hippocampus and putamen with IM. However, none of these significant results withstood correction for multiple testing.
Although VLM is among the most impaired cognitive domains in emerging psychosis, we could not find an association between low performance in this domain and reductions in subcortical GM volumes. Our results suggest that deficits in this domain may not stem from alterations in subcortical structures.
Disclosure of interest
The authors have not supplied their declaration of competing interest.
Deficits of mismatch negativity (MMN) in schizophrenia and individuals at risk for psychosis have been replicated many times. Several studies have also demonstrated the occurrence of subclinical psychotic symptoms within the general population. However, none has yet investigated MMN in individuals from the general population who report subclinical psychotic symptoms.
The MMN to duration-, frequency-, and intensity deviants was recorded in 217 nonclinical individuals classified into a control group (n = 72) and three subclinical groups: paranoid (n = 44), psychotic (n = 51), and mixed paranoid-psychotic (n = 50). Amplitudes of MMN at frontocentral electrodes were referenced to average. Based on a three-source model of MMN generation, we conducted an MMN source analysis and compared the amplitudes of surface electrodes and sources among groups.
We found no significant differences in MMN amplitudes of surface electrodes. However, significant differences in MMN generation among the four groups were revealed at the frontal source for duration-deviant stimuli (P = 0.01). We also detected a trend-level difference (P = 0.05) in MMN activity among those groups for frequency deviants at the frontal source.
Individuals from the general population who report psychotic symptoms are a heterogeneous group. However, alterations exist in their frontal MMN activity. This increased activity might be an indicator of more sensitive perception regarding changes in the environment for individuals with subclinical psychotic symptoms.