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Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is characterized by anxiety regarding social situations, avoidance of external social stimuli, and negative self-beliefs. Virtual reality self-training (VRS) at home may be a good interim modality for reducing social fears before formal treatment. This study aimed to find neurobiological evidence for the therapeutic effect of VRS.
Fifty-two patients with SAD were randomly assigned to a VRS or waiting list (WL) group. The VRS group received an eight-session VRS program for 2 weeks, whereas the WL group received no intervention. Clinical assessments and functional magnetic resonance imaging scanning with the distress and speech evaluation tasks were repeatedly performed at baseline and after 3 weeks.
The post-VRS assessment showed significantly decreased anxiety and avoidance scores, distress index, and negative evaluation index for ‘self’, but no change in the negative evaluation index for ‘other’. Patients showed significant responses to the distress task in various regions, including both sides of the prefrontal regions, occipital regions, insula, and thalamus, and to the speech evaluation task in the bilateral anterior cingulate cortex. Among these, significant neuronal changes after VRS were observed only in the right lingual gyrus and left thalamus.
VRS-induced improvements in the ability to pay attention to social stimuli without avoidance and even positively modulate emotional cues are based on functional changes in the visual cortices and thalamus. Based on these short-term neuronal changes, VRS can be a first intervention option for individuals with SAD who avoid society or are reluctant to receive formal treatment.
To investigate the impacts of depression screening, diagnosis and treatment on major adverse cardiac events (MACEs) in acute coronary syndrome (ACS).
Prospective cohort study including a nested 24-week randomised clinical trial for treating depression was performed with 5–12 years after the index ACS. A total of 1152 patients recently hospitalised with ACS were recruited from 2006 to 2012, and were divided by depression screening and diagnosis at baseline and 24-week treatment allocation into five groups: 651 screening negative (N), 55 screening positive but no depressive disorder (S), 149 depressive disorder randomised to escitalopram (E), 151 depressive disorder randomised to placebo (P) and 146 depressive disorder receiving medical treatment only (M).
Cumulative MACE incidences over a median 8.4-year follow-up period were 29.6% in N, 43.6% in S, 40.9% in E, 53.6% in P and 59.6% in M. Compared to N, screening positive was associated with higher incidence of MACE [adjusted hazards ratio 2.15 (95% confidence interval 1.63–2.83)]. No differences were found between screening positive with and without a formal depressive disorder diagnosis. Of those screening positive, E was associated with a lower incidence of MACE than P and M. M had the worst outcomes even compared to P, despite significantly milder depressive symptoms at baseline.
Routine depression screening in patients with recent ACS and subsequent appropriate treatment of depression could improve long-term cardiac outcomes.
Somatization is known to be more prevalent in Asian than in Western populations. Using a South Korean adolescent and young adult twin sample (N = 1754; 367 monozygotic male, 173 dizygotic male, 681 monozygotic female, 274 dizygotic female and 259 opposite-sex dizygotic twins), the present study aimed to estimate heritability of somatization and to determine common genetic and environmental influences on somatization and hwabyung (HB: anger syndrome). Twins completed self-report questionnaires of the HB symptoms scale and the somatization scale via a telephone interview. The results of the general sex-limitation model showed that 43% (95% CI [36, 50]) of the total variance of somatization was attributable to additive genetic factors, with the remaining variance, 57% (95% CI [50, 64]), being due to individual-specific environmental influences, including measurement error. These estimates were not significantly different between the two sexes. The phenotypic correlation between HB and somatization was .53 (p < .001). The bivariate model-fitting analyses revealed that the genetic correlation between the two symptoms was .68 (95% CI [.59, .77]), while the individual-specific environmental correlation, including correlated measurement error, was .41 (95% CI [.34, .48]). Of the additive genetic factors of 43% that influence somatization, approximately half (20%) were associated with those related to HB, with the remainder being due to genes unique to somatization. A substantial part (48%) of individual environmental variance in somatization was unrelated to HB; only 9% of the environmental variance was shared with HB. Our findings suggest that HB and somatization have shared genetic etiology, but environmental factors that precipitate the development of HB and somatization may be largely independent from each other.
Refugees commonly experience difficulties with emotional processing, such as alexithymia, due to stressful or traumatic experiences. However, the functional connectivity of the amygdala, which is central to emotional processing, has yet to be assessed in refugees. Thus, the present study investigated the resting-state functional connectivity of the amygdala and its association with emotional processing in North Korean (NK) refugees.
This study included 45 NK refugees and 40 native South Koreans (SK). All participants were administered the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS), Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), and Clinician-administered PTSD Scale (CAPS), and differences between NK refugees and native SK in terms of resting-state functional connectivity of the amygdala were assessed. Additionally, the association between the strength of amygdala connectivity and the TAS score was examined.
Resting-state connectivity values from the left amygdala to the bilateral dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) and dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) were higher in NK refugees than in native SK. Additionally, the strength of connectivity between the left amygdala and right dlPFC was positively associated with TAS score after controlling for the number of traumatic experiences and BDI and CAPS scores.
The present study found that NK refugees exhibited heightened frontal–amygdala connectivity, and that this connectivity was correlated with alexithymia. The present results suggest that increased frontal–amygdala connectivity in refugees may represent frontal down-regulation of the amygdala, which in turn may produce alexithymia.
The present study aimed to estimate heritability of Hwabyung (HB) symptoms in adolescent and young adult twins in South Korea. The sample included 1,601 twins consisting of 143 pairs of monozygotic male (MZM), 67 pairs of dizygotic male (DZM), 295 pairs of monozygotic female (MZF), 114 pairs of dizygotic female (DZF), and 117 pairs of opposite-sex dizygotic (OSDZ) twins and 129 twins with non-participating co-twins (mean age = 19.1 ± 3.1 years; range: 12–29 years). An HB symptom questionnaire was given to twins via a telephone interview. Consistent with the literature of HB, the mean level of HB was significantly higher in females than in males. Maximum likelihood twin correlations for HB were 0.31 (95% CI [0.16, 0.45]) for MZM, 0.19 (95% CI [-0.05, 0.41]) for DZM, 0.50 (95% CI [0.41, 0.58]) for MZF, 0.28 (95% CI [0.11, 0.44]) for DZF, and 0.23 (95% CI [0.05, 0.40]) for OSDZ twins. These patterns of twin correlations suggested the presence of additive genetic influences on HB. Model-fitting analysis showed that additive genetic and individual-specific environmental influences on HB were 44% (95% CI [37, 51]) and 56% (95% CI [49, 63]), respectively. Shared environmental influences were not significant. These parameter estimates were not significantly different between two sexes, and did not change significantly with age in the present sample, suggesting that genetic and environmental influences on HB in both sexes are stable across adolescence and young adulthood.
Depressive symptoms are common in bereaved caregivers; however, there have been few prospective studies using a structured interview. This study investigated the prevalence and preloss predictors of major depressive disorder (MDD) in bereaved caregivers of patients in a palliative care unit.
This prospective cohort study collected caregiver sociodemographic and psychological data before the death of a palliative care unit patient, including MDD, care-burden, coping style, and hopeful attitude. Postloss MDD was assessed 6 and 13 months after death, and a multivariate logistic regression analysis was conducted to identify its predictors.
Of 305 caregivers contacted, 92 participated in this study. The prevalence of preloss MDD was 21.8%; the prevalences of postloss MDD were 34.8% and 24.7% at 6 and 13 months, respectively. Preloss MDD predicted postloss MDD at 6 months (odds ratio [OR] = 5.38, 95% confidence interval [CI95%] = 1.29, 22.43); preloss nonhopeful attitude and unemployment status of caregivers predicted postloss MDD at 13 months (OR = 8.77, CI95% = 1.87, 41.13 and OR = 7.10, CI95% = 1.28, 39.36, respectively).
Significance of results
Approximately 35% of caregivers suffered from MDD at 6 months postloss, but the prevalence of MDD decreased to about 25% at 13 months. Preloss MDD significantly predicted postloss MDD at 6 months, whereas hopeful attitude and unemployment at baseline were significantly associated with postloss MDD at 13 months.
Our objective was to evaluate long-term altered appearance, distress, and body image in posttreatment breast cancer patients and compare them with those of patients undergoing active treatment and with general population controls.
We conducted a cross-sectional survey between May and December of 2010. We studied 138 breast cancer patients undergoing active treatment and 128 posttreatment patients from 23 Korean hospitals and 315 age- and area-matched subjects drawn from the general population. Breast, hair, and skin changes, distress, and body image were assessed using visual analogue scales and the EORTC BR–23. Average levels of distress were compared across groups, and linear regression was utilized to identify the factors associated with body image.
Compared to active-treatment patients, posttreatment patients reported similar breast changes (6.6 vs. 6.2), hair loss (7.7 vs. 6.7), and skin changes (5.8 vs. 5.4), and both groups had significantly more severe changes than those of the general population controls (p < 0.01). For a similar level of altered appearance, however, breast cancer patients experienced significantly higher levels of distress than the general population. In multivariate analysis, patients with high altered appearance distress reported significantly poorer body image (–20.7, CI95% = –28.3 to –13.1) than patients with low distress.
Significance of results:
Posttreatment breast cancer patients experienced similar levels of altered appearance, distress, and body-image disturbance relative to patients undergoing active treatment but significantly higher distress and poorer body image than members of the general population. Healthcare professionals should acknowledge the possible long-term effects of altered appearance among breast cancer survivors and help them to manage the associated distress and psychological consequences.
Personality may predispose family caregivers to experience caregiving differently in similar situations and influence the outcomes of caregiving. A limited body of research has examined the role of some personality traits for health-related quality of life (HRQoL) among family caregivers of persons with dementia (PWD) in relation to burden and depression.
Data from a large clinic-based national study in South Korea, the Caregivers of Alzheimer's Disease Research (CARE), were analyzed (N = 476). Path analysis was performed to explore the association between family caregivers’ personality traits and HRQoL. With depression and burden as mediating factors, direct and indirect associations between five personality traits and HRQoL of family caregivers were examined.
Results demonstrated the mediating role of caregiver burden and depression in linking two personality traits (neuroticism and extraversion) and HRQoL. Neuroticism and extraversion directly and indirectly influenced the mental HRQoL of caregivers. Neuroticism and extraversion only indirectly influenced their physical HRQoL. Neuroticism increased the caregiver's depression, whereas extraversion decreased it. Neuroticism only was mediated by burden to influence depression and mental and physical HRQoL.
Personality traits can influence caregiving outcomes and be viewed as an individual resource of the caregiver. A family caregiver's personality characteristics need to be assessed for tailoring support programs to get the optimal benefits from caregiver interventions.
Background: Patients diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD) on clinics who subsequently turn out to have normal dopamine transporter images have been referred to as scans without evidence of dopaminergic deficits (SWEDDs) patients. Cardiovascular autonomic dysfunction has frequently been reported in PD. In this study, we determined the similarities and differences in cardiac autonomic dysfunction between SWEDDs and PD patients. This study investigated whether 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (24-hour ABPM) can help identify possible cases with SWEDDs. Methods: We enrolled 28 SWEDDs patients, 46 patients with PD, and 30 healthy controls. To evaluate cardiac autonomic function, 24-hour ABPM was performed on all subjects. Cardiac metaiodobenzylguanidine (MIBG) scintigraphy was performed on the SWEDDs and PD subjects. Results: The percentage nocturnal decline in blood pressure differed significantly among SWEDDs patients, PD patients, and controls (p<0.05). In addition to the abnormal nocturnal BP, regulation (nondipping and reverse dipping) was significantly higher in SWEDDs and PD subjects than in the control subjects (p<0.05). There was no significant correlation between the % nocturnal blood pressure reduction and parameters of cardiac MIBG uptake ratio. However, orthostatic hypotension was significant correlated with the nocturnal blood pressure dip (%), nocturnal blood pressure patterns, and the cardiac MIBG uptake ratio (early and late) in combined SWEDDs and PD subjects. Conclusions: Pathologic nocturnal blood pressure regulation and nocturnal hypertension, known characteristics of PD, are also present in SWEDDs. Moreover, cardiac sympathetic denervation should not be attributed to cardiac autonomic dysfunction in SWEDDs patients. As with PD patients, the SWEDDs patients studied here tended to have cardiac autonomic dysfunction.
Although late-life anxiety occurs frequently and is associated with higher morbidity, few longitudinal studies have been concerned with the evaluation thereof. We investigated the prevalence, incidence, and persistence of anxiety and related factors over a two-year period in community-dwelling Korean elderly individuals.
A total of 1,204 Korean elderly individuals were evaluated at baseline, and 909 were followed up two years later. The community version of the Geriatric Mental State Schedule was used to estimate anxiety at both baseline and follow-up interviews. We defined “prevalence” as the rate of anxiety symptoms (for both anxiety cases and sub-threshold anxiety) at baseline; “incidence” as the rate of anxiety symptoms at follow-up in those without baseline anxiety symptoms; and “persistence” as the rate of anxiety symptoms at follow-up in those with baseline anxiety symptoms. Associations between various covariates and anxiety status were examined using multivariate logistic regression models.
The prevalence, incidence, and persistence of anxiety symptoms were 38.1%, 29.3%, and 41.1%, respectively. Prevalent anxiety symptoms were associated independently with female, rented housing, more stressful life event and medical illness, physical inactivity, depression, insomnia, and lower cognitive function. Incident anxiety symptoms were predicted by older age, female gender, depression, and insomnia; persistent anxiety symptoms were predicted by older age, more medical illness, and baseline depression.
Since depression was associated with prevalent, incident, and persistent anxiety symptoms, effective detection and management thereof is important in older adults to reduce anxiety. Furthermore, preventive collaborative care should be considered, particularly for older, female, insomniac patients.
Some clinical studies have reported reduced peripheral glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) level in elderly patients with major depressive disorder (MDD). We verified whether a reduction in plasma GDNF level was associated with MDD.
Plasma GDNF level was measured in 23 healthy control subjects and 23 MDD patients before and after 6 weeks of treatment.
Plasma GDNF level in MDD patients at baseline did not differ from that in healthy controls. Plasma GDNF in MDD patients did not differ significantly from baseline to the end of treatment. GDNF level was significantly lower in recurrent-episode MDD patients than in first-episode patients before and after treatment.
Our findings revealed significantly lower plasma GDNF level in recurrent-episode MDD patients, although plasma GDNF levels in MDD patients and healthy controls did not differ significantly. The discrepancy between our study and previous studies might arise from differences in the recurrence of depression or the ages of the MDD patients.
Several factors associated with referral time to hospice and/or palliative care services have been identified, but there is no literature on the association between these services and the emotional status of the family caregivers (FCs). This article is intended to address that issue.
A semistructured interview was employed to collect data for a retrospective cohort study. The primary FCs of terminally ill cancer patients were interviewed at the time of the patient's referral to the palliative care unit. Interview data were combined with patients' medical record data for our analysis. The emotional status of the FCs was categorized into one of three groups according to their responses to the anticipated death of their family member: acceptance, anxious/depressed, and denial/angry. A Cox proportional hazard model was used to examine and identify the factors related to the length of stay (LOS) in the palliative care unit.
A total of 198 patient–FC pairs were identified. The median LOS was 18 days. A multivariate analysis with adjustment for potential variables revealed significant differences in LOS according to cancer type and time since cancer diagnosis. The denial/angry FC category was independently associated with a shorter LOS (vs. acceptance, adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) 2.11; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.11–4.03).
Significance of Results:
We found that terminally ill cancer patients who were referred late had FCs who were in denial or were angry about the anticipated death of their loved one. The emotional status of FCs should be considered when patients with terminal cancer are referred to palliative care.
Rutile nanoparticles have been synthesized by acid hydrolysis of titanium isopropoxide by low-temperature dissolution-reprecipitation process. High-resolution transmission electron micrographs of the rutile colloidal solution show needle-shaped rutile nanoparticles with the dimensions of 10–30 nm in diameter and 100–150 nm in length. X-ray diffraction (XRD) data show the existence of only the rutile polymorph in TiO2 powder with a crystallite size of 11.3 nm. The dielectric constant of rutile nanoparticles has been found to be 57 at 10 MHz AC frequency and DC conductance as 2.3 × 10−6 S/cm. Transmission electron micrographs and XRD data analysis imply that the rutile crystallites are self-organized in a regular fashion to produce multilayer three-dimensional linear clusters. The clusters have been found to be microporous (average porosity 1.4 nm) with high specific surface area (132.2 m2/g). At higher concentration, the clusters aggregate to produce interconnected network of star- or flower-like structures. This organized crystalline microporous metal-oxide semiconductor might find various practical applications.
Decreased hemoglobin levels increase the risk of developing dementia among the elderly. However, the underlying mechanisms that link decreased hemoglobin levels to incident dementia still remain unclear, possibly due to the fact that few studies have reported on the relationship between low hemoglobin levels and neuroimaging markers. We, therefore, investigated the relationships between decreased hemoglobin levels, cerebral small-vessel disease (CSVD), and cortical atrophy in cognitively healthy women and men.
Cognitively normal women (n = 1,022) and men (n = 1,018) who underwent medical check-ups and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) were enrolled at a health promotion center. We measured hemoglobin levels, white matter hyperintensities (WMH) scales, lacunes, and microbleeds. Cortical thickness was automatically measured using surface based methods. Multivariate regression analyses were performed after controlling for possible confounders.
Decreased hemoglobin levels were not associated with the presence of WMH, lacunes, or microbleeds in women and men. Among women, decreased hemoglobin levels were associated with decreased cortical thickness in the frontal (Estimates, 95% confidence interval, −0.007, (−0.013, −0.001)), temporal (−0.010, (−0.018, −0.002)), parietal (−0.009, (−0.015, −0.003)), and occipital regions (−0.011, (−0.019, −0.003)). Among men, however, no associations were observed between hemoglobin levels and cortical thickness.
Our findings suggested that decreased hemoglobin levels affected cortical atrophy, but not increased CSVD, among women, although the association is modest. Given the paucity of modifiable risk factors for age-related cognitive decline, our results have important public health implications.
During the past decades, a rapid nutritional transition has been observed along with economic growth in the Republic of Korea. Since this dramatic change in diet has been frequently associated with cancer and other non-communicable diseases, dietary monitoring is essential to understand the association. Benefiting from pre-existing standardised dietary methodologies, the present study aimed to evaluate the feasibility and describe the development of a Korean version of the international computerised 24 h dietary recall method (GloboDiet software) and its complementary tools, developed at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), WHO. Following established international Standard Operating Procedures and guidelines, about seventy common and country-specific databases on foods, recipes, dietary supplements, quantification methods and coefficients were customised and translated. The main results of the present study highlight the specific adaptations made to adapt the GloboDiet software for research and dietary surveillance in Korea. New (sub-) subgroups were added into the existing common food classification, and new descriptors were added to the facets to classify and describe specific Korean foods. Quantification methods were critically evaluated and adapted considering the foods and food packages available in the Korean market. Furthermore, a picture book of foods/dishes was prepared including new pictures and food portion sizes relevant to Korean diet. The development of the Korean version of GloboDiet demonstrated that it was possible to adapt the IARC-WHO international dietary tool to an Asian context without compromising its concept of standardisation and software structure. It, thus, confirms that this international dietary methodology, used so far only in Europe, is flexible and robust enough to be customised for other regions worldwide.
The present study was performed to investigate whether breast-feeding is associated with early pubertal development among children 7–9 years old in Korea.
Children were divided into those who did and did not receive breast-feeding for 6 months or longer in accordance with the recommendations of the WHO. Pubertal status was determined by clinical examination using Tanner staging.
Prospective observational study.
We conducted a follow-up study of children aged 7–9 years in 2011 who had taken part in the Ewha Birth & Growth Cohort study.
Fifty (22·8 %) of the total of 219 children were in early puberty, with the proportion being slightly higher for girls (24·1 %) than boys (21·4 %). Children who had entered early puberty were taller, weighed more and had a higher concentration of insulin-like growth factor 1. Moreover, the change in weight Z-score from birth to follow-up was significantly lower in children who were breast-fed than in those who were not (weight Z-score change: 0·32 (sd 1·59) v. 0·77 (sd 1·61), respectively, P=0·04). Comparison of breast-feeding by puberty status indicated a preventive association with early puberty in children who were breast-fed for 6 months or longer (OR=0·37; 95 % CI 0·18, 0·74). This association remained significant after adjustment for relevant covariates.
These results demonstrate a beneficial association between breast-feeding and early pubertal development, especially in those breast-fed for 6 months or longer. The study suggests that interventions would need to start early in life to prevent early pubertal development.
To determine the influence of early pain relief for patients with suspected appendicitis on the diagnostic performance of surgical residents.
A prospective randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was conducted for patients with suspected appendicitis. The patients were randomized to receive placebo (normal saline intravenous [IV]) infusions over 5 minutes or the study drug (morphine 5 mg IV). All of the clinical evaluations by surgical residents were performed 30 minutes after administration of the study drug or placebo. After obtaining the clinical probability of appendicitis, as determined by the surgical residents, abdominal computed tomography was performed. The primary objective was to compare the influence of IV morphine on the ability of surgical residents to diagnose appendicitis.
A total of 213 patients with suspected appendicitis were enrolled. Of these patients, 107 patients received morphine, and 106 patients received placebo saline. The negative appendectomy percentages in each group were similar (3.8% in the placebo group and 3.2% in the pain control group, p=0.62). The perforation rates in each group were also similar (18.9% in the placebo group and 14.3% in the pain control group, p=0.75). Receiver operating characteristic analysis revealed that the overall diagnostic accuracy in each group was similar (the area under the curve of the placebo group and the pain control group was 0.63 v. 0.61, respectively, p=0.81).
Early pain control in patients with suspected appendicitis does not affect the diagnostic performance of surgical residents.
There is increasing evidence of a relationship between underweight or obesity and dementia risk. Several studies have investigated the relationship between body weight and brain atrophy, a pathological change preceding dementia, but their results are inconsistent. Therefore, we aimed to evaluate the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and cortical atrophy among cognitively normal participants.
We recruited cognitively normal participants (n = 1,111) who underwent medical checkups and detailed neurologic screening, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in the health screening visits between September 2008 and December 2011. The main outcome was cortical thickness measured using MRI. The number of subjects with five BMI groups in men/women was 9/9, 148/258, 185/128, 149/111, and 64/50 in underweight, normal, overweight, mild obesity, and moderate to severe obesity, respectively. Linear and non-linear relationships between BMI and cortical thickness were examined using multiple linear regression analysis and generalized additive models after adjustment for potential confounders.
Among men, underweight participants showed significant cortical thinning in the frontal and temporal regions compared to normal weight participants, while overweight and mildly obese participants had greater cortical thicknesses in the frontal region and the frontal, temporal, and occipital regions, respectively. However, cortical thickness in each brain region was not significantly different in normal weight and moderate to severe obesity groups. Among women, the association between BMI and cortical thickness was not statistically significant.
Our findings suggested that underweight might be an important risk factor for pathological changes in the brain, while overweight or mild obesity may be inversely associated with cortical atrophy in cognitively normal elderly males.