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Little is known about the combined use of benzodiazepines and antidepressants in older psychiatric patients. This study examined the prescription pattern of concurrent benzodiazepines in older adults treated with antidepressants in Asia, and explored its demographic and clinical correlates.
The data of 955 older adults with any type of psychiatric disorders were extracted from the database of the Research on Asian Psychotropic Prescription Patterns for Antidepressants (REAP-AD) project. Demographic and clinical characteristics were recorded using a standardized protocol and data collection procedure. Both univariate and multiple logistic regression analyses were performed.
The proportion of benzodiazepine and antidepressant combination in this cohort was 44.3%. Multiple logistic regression analysis revealed that higher doses of antidepressants, younger age (<65 years), inpatients, public hospital, major comorbid medical conditions, antidepressant types, and country/territory were significantly associated with more frequent co-prescription of benzodiazepines and antidepressants.
Nearly, half of the older adults treated with antidepressants in Asia are prescribed concurrent benzodiazepines. Given the potentially adverse effects of benzodiazepines, the rationale of benzodiazepines and antidepressants co-prescription needs to be revisited.
Some studies demonstrated that physical activity may have beneficial effect on cognitive function. The objective of the study was to estimate the association between physical activity and cognitive function in community-dwelling elderly Chinese in Hong Kong (HK) and Guangzhou (GZ).
In the neighborhood of HK and GZ, a convenience sample of 557 (260 in HK and 297 in GZ) older persons without dementia aged over 60 years (73.4 ± 6.5) was recruited. Physical activity was measured using a checklist. Information on physical activity participation, cognitive function, and other variables were collected. Multivariate linear regression analyses were performed to evaluate the association between physical activity and cognitive function.
Total number of physical activities showed significant association with the delayed recall test (p < 0.01) and category verbal fluency test (CVFT) (p < 0.01). However, with further adjustment for participation in intellectual activity, the coefficients were no longer statistically significant (p > 0.05)
Physical activity may not be associated with better cognitive function among elderly Chinese independently of other factors.
Background: This study examined the use of low doses of antipsychotic medications (300 mg/day CPZeq or less) in older Asian patients with schizophrenia and its demographic and clinical correlates.
Methods: Information on hospitalized patients with schizophrenia, aged 55 years or older, was extracted from the database of the Research on Asian Psychotropic Prescription Patterns (REAP) study (2001–2009). Data on 1,452 patients in eight Asian countries and territories including China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, India, and Malaysia were analyzed. Sociodemographic and clinical characteristics and antipsychotic prescriptions were recorded using a standardized protocol and data collection procedure.
Results: The prescription frequency for low doses of antipsychotic medications was 40.9% in the pooled sample. Multiple logistic regression analysis of the whole sample showed that patients on low doses of antipsychotic medications were more likely to be female, have an older age, a shorter length of illness, and less positive symptoms. Of patients in the six countries and territories that participated in all the surveys between 2001 and 2009, those in Japan were less likely to receive low doses of antipsychotics.
Conclusion: Low doses of antipsychotic medications were only applied in less than half of older Asian patients with schizophrenia.
Background: Growing evidence suggests that participation in late-life leisure activity may have beneficial effects on cognitive function. The objective of the study was to evaluate the association between leisure activity participation and cognitive function in an elderly population of community-dwelling Hong Kong Chinese.
Methods: 512 participants were assessed in the follow-up study of a population-based community survey of the prevalence of cognitive impairment among Hong Kong Chinese aged 60 years and over. Leisure activities were classified into four categories (physical, intellectual, social and recreational). Information regarding leisure activity participation, cognitive function and other variables was collected. Multivariate linear regression analyses were performed to examine the association between leisure activity participation and cognitive function.
Results: A higher level of late-life leisure activity participation, particularly in intellectual activities, was significantly associated with better cognitive function in the elderly, as reflected by the results of the Cantonese Mini-mental State Examination (p = 0.007, 0.029 and 0.005), the Category Verbal Fluency Test (p = 0.027, 0.003 and 0.005) and digit backward span (p = 0.031, 0.002 and 0.009), as measured by the total frequency, total hours per week and total number of subtypes, respectively; the Chinese Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive Subscale (p = 0.045) and word list learning (p = 0.003), as measured by the total number of subtypes; and digit forward span (p = 0.007 and 0.015), as measured by the total hours per week and total number of subtypes, respectively.
Conclusion: Late-life intellectual activity participation was associated with better cognitive function among community-dwelling Hong Kong elderly Chinese.
The emergence of the novel swine-origin influenza A (H1N1) virus in humans has aroused great concern among medical professionals about the possible evolution of a full-blown influenza pandemic, one on the scale of the “Spanish” influenza pandemic of 1918–19 (Belshe, 2009). It has been speculated that the return of a pandemic virus equivalent in pathogenicity to the virus of 1918 would likely kill more than 100 million people worldwide, including a large number of economically active young people (Taubenberger and Morens, 2006). Health administrations worldwide have stepped up reporting and surveillance of the deaths and illnesses associated with H1N1, and most countries have national strategies to fight the outbreak, though skeptics doubt how such plans could be operationalized, especially in developing countries (Coker, 2009). As of 6 July 2009, the cumulative total of H1N1 cases exceeds 90,000 in over 100 countries, with over 400 deaths directly related to the infection (World Health Organization, 2009a). Optimists might believe this pandemic is not going to match the scale of the historical 1918 pandemic given the relatively low fatality rate observed thus far. However, the World Health Organization has cautioned that we have just entered Phase 6 of the pandemic – i.e. we are in the early days of the 2009 flu pandemic (Chan, 2009). The course of the pandemic is thus unpredictable at this stage but it is evident that international multilateral plans and agreements have enabled much greater coordination of communication and action than ever before. The guidance behind these multilateral international actions, rooted in the World Health Organization's International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005, only came into being five years ago in response to the threat of emerging infectious diseases and particularly by the events related to the emergence of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) (Katz, 2009). The morbidity and mortality directly resulting from this novel influenza A H1N1 outbreak are in the center of the world media's spotlight, but the potential impact of the pandemic on global mental health has not yet received the attention it deserves.
Background: Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disease with a higher prevalence in women. Expression of estrogen receptor 1 (ESR1) gene has been identified throughout the brain. Owing to the putative neuroprotective effects of estrogen, estrogen receptor gene is a potential candidate modulating the development of AD. Preliminary associations between two polymorphisms of ESR1 (PvuII and XbaI) gene and AD have been reported.
Methods: In this study, 16 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of the ESR1 gene (including four commonly studied ESR1 SNPs and 12 other tagging SNPs selected from the HapMap database) were investigated to further evaluate the association between ESR1 polymorphisms and the risk of AD in the Chinese population.
Results: A total of 233 Chinese AD patients and 245 age-matched elderly control subjects were recruited. Genetic associations were analyzed by chi-square test and interaction effect was analysed by logistic regression analysis. Five SNPs (clustered between intron 3 and intron 7) were associated with the risk of AD (p-value ranges from 0.001 to 0.035); another two SNPs (located on exon 2 and intron 2) were shown to modulate the age-at-onset (AAO) in AD (p-value = 0.036 and 0.011).
Conclusions: ESR1 gene polymorphisms may be associated with the AAO in AD. The present results provided information for possible associations between certain polymorphisms of ESR1 gene and the risk of AD.
Background: Increasing evidence suggests that functional impairment can be detected in older persons with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). This study explores the functional profiles and the clinical correlates of a population-based sample of Chinese older persons with MCI in Hong Kong.
Methods: A random sample of 765 Chinese elderly subjects without dementia was recruited, of which 389 were elderly normal controls (Clinical Dementia Rating = 0), and 376 had questionable dementia (CDR = 0.5). The latter were categorized into an MCI group (n = 291) and a very mild dementia (VMD) group (n = 85). Their functional performances were measured and compared with the normal controls (NC). Multiple regression analyses investigated the associations between functional scores (Disability Assessment in Dementia) and clinical correlates (cognitive test scores, neuropsychiatric symptoms and motor signs) in the NC subjects and cognitively impaired subjects.
Results: Subjects with MCI had intermediate functional performance between the NC and those with VMD. Regression analyses revealed that lower scores of cognitive tests (delayed recall and categorical verbal fluency tests), apathy, aberrant motor symptoms and parkinsonism features were associated with lower functional scores in clinically non-demented subjects. Functional scores had no correlation with age, education and medical illness burden.
Conclusion: Neuropsychiatric symptoms and parkinsonism features were associated with functional impairment in the clinically non-demented elderly in the community. Assessment of these should be incorporated in the evaluation of older persons for early cognitive impairment.
David Ames, Professor of Psychiatry of Old Age, University of Melbourne,
Eleanor Flynn, Senior Lecturer in Medical Education, University of Melbourne,
Maria Alekxandrova, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Medical University Pleven,
Kaloyan Stoychev, Consultant Psychiatrist, University Hospital Pleven,
Kenneth Shulman, Professor of Geriatric Psychiatry, University of Toronto,
Ross Upshur, Professor of Primary Care, University of Toronto,
Kirsten Abelskov, Old-Age Psychiatrist, Aarhus University Hospital,
Kaj Sparle Christensen, General Practitioner, Institut for Almen Medicin, University of Aarhus,
Philippe H. Robert, Professor of Psychiatry,
Michel Benoit, Psychiatrist Centre Mémoire de Ressources et de Recherche, Nice,
Florence Cabane, General Practitioner Nice,
Geneviève Ruault, Geriatrician Nice,
Helen F. K. Chiu, Professor of Psychiatry, The Chinese University of Hong Kong,
D. K. T. Li, Family Physician, Past President Hong Kong College of Family Physicians,
Syuichi Awata, Psychiatrist and Director Division of Neuropsychiatry and Center for Dementia, Sendai City Hospital,
Akira Honma, Psychiatrist, Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology,
Els Licht-Strunk, General Practitioner, VU University Medical Centre, Amsterdam,
Marijke Bremmer, Consultant Psychiatrist, VU University Medical Centre, Amsterdam,
Knut Engedal, Professor of Old-Age Psychiatry, Ullevaal University Hospital, Oslo,
Harald Sanaker, Specialist in Family Medicine, Kongsvegen Legesenter, Brummunddal,
Nicoleta Tătaru, Senior Consultant Psychiatrist, Forensic Hospital Ştei, Bihor,
Monica Bălan, Primary Care Physician Oradea,
Alexandru Dicker, Senior Consultant in Internal Medicine Psychiatric Hospital, Nucet, Bihor,
Raimundo Mateos, Professor of Psychiatry, University of Santiago de Compostela,
Jose Antonio Ferreiro Guri, Specialist in Family and Community, Medicine University of Santiago de Compostela,
Tom Campbell, Professor of Family Medicine, University of Rochester, NY,
Jeffrey M. Lyness, Professor of Psychiatry, University of Rochester, NY
The editors summarized the contributions written by colleagues in different parts of the world (Chapter 6) to illustrate the similarities, and occasional differences, in the management of depression in older people described in all the contributions. This appendix allows the reader to read the individual contributions.
This 82-year-old woman is chronically disabled by pain and breathlessness and appears to have become socially disengaged. She has several symptoms of depression, including persistent low mood, loss of energy (which sounds to be out of proportion to her medical state), early morning waking, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, and persistent feelings that life is not worth living. The vignette does not provide information about her appetite and weight, concentration, any psychomotor changes, guilt feelings or confidence levels, but even so it is clear that, provided the symptoms have been present for two weeks (and this seems highly likely), she meets both DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for a major depressive episode and ICD-10 criteria for a depressive episode.
Australian health-care system
Within the Australian health-care system, in which specialists are accessible only after referral from a general practitioner (GP), this woman would normally be managed by her GP who in all likelihood will already be engaged in the management of her troublesome osteoarthritis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). She might well attend a respiratory outpatient clinic or rheumatology clinic in a public hospital, or (less likely as fewer than one-third of the elderly have private health insurance) be seeing a private medical specialist with expertise in one or both of these two areas.
Introduction: In this report, the results of a household survey were used to examine the prevalence of very mild and mild dementia in Chinese older persons in Hong Kong.
Methods: The study adopted a two-phase design. At Phase 1, 6100 subjects were screened using the Cantonese version of the Mini-mental State Examination (MMSE) and a short memory inventory. At Phase 2, 2073 subjects were screened positive and 737 were evaluated by psychiatrists. Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR) and cognitive assessment were used for diagnosis of dementia. Very mild dementia (VMD) was defined as a global CDR of 0.5, with memory and non-memory subscale scores of 0.5 or more. Mild dementia was classified for subjects with a CDR of 1.
Results: The overall prevalence of VMD and mild dementia for persons aged 70 years or above was 8.5% (95%CI: 7.4–9.6) and 8.9% (95%CI: 7.8–10.0) respectively. Among subjects with clinical dementia, 84.6% had mild (CDR1) dementia. Logistic regression analyses revealed that older age, lower educational level and significant cerebrovascular risk factors were risk factors for dementia, while regular physical exercise was a protective factor for dementia.
Conclusions: A sizable proportion of community-living subjects suffered from milder forms of dementia. They represent a high risk for early intervention to reduce potential physical and psychiatric morbidity.
It is estimated that 24 million people currently have dementia and that two-thirds of them live in developing countries. However, most of the assessment instruments for dementia have originated in developed countries. This paper explores the relevance of outcome measures in clinical trials of dementia drugs in different cultural groups, particularly in developing countries. The challenges of assessing treatment benefits in dementia in such groups include linguistic and cultural diversity, as well as high illiteracy rates, lack of human resources and the time constraints in assessment of patients. This paper also highlights methodological issues in cross-cultural research of cognitive assessment. Improvement in neuropsychiatric outcomes may be of particular importance to people in non-Western cultures. Functional outcomes and global outcomes are potentially useful outcome measures, but more studies are required in various countries. The use of biological markers such as neuroimaging and cerebrospinal fluid studies may not be practical in developing countries due to their costs and acceptability respectively. More work is also needed in the area of quality of life measures in various countries.
Objective: To examine associations between behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD), cognitive function and clinical deterioration over 2 years.
Methods: One hundred and four Chinese subjects with late-onset Alzheimer's Disease (AD) who presented to psychogeriatric clinics were followed for an average of 22.5 months. BPSD subgroups were categorized by latent class analysis using the Neuropsychiatric Inventory. Comprehensive cognitive profiles were performed with the Mattis Dementia Scale, the Hong Kong List Learning Test (HKLLT) and the Category Verbal Fluency Test. Interactions between cognitive function and behavioral syndromes were evaluated. Potential predictors for clinical deterioration were computed with logistic regression analysis.
Results: Three latent classes of subjects with similar behavioral syndromes were identified: Low BPSD (44%), Affective (32%) and Psychosis (24%) groups. Association between cognitive functions and BPSD was not significant. At follow-up, a higher proportion of subjects in the Affective (70%) and Low BPSD (49%) groups remained stable at the same Clinical Dementia Rating. Baseline scores in the “recognition” test of the HKLLT and age were significant predictors for “deceased” status at 2-year follow-up.
Conclusion: The lack of association between behavioral syndromes and cognitive function suggests that these relatively independent dimensions of dementia should be examined individually for different prognostic significance.
The recognition of behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) varies in Asian countries. In India, for example, symptoms such as repetition, forgetfulness, anxiety, and agitation are simply ignored in the rural setting and are of no concern to family members; other symptoms, such as wandering, are easily tolerated. This cultural acceptance of certain BPSD, combined with the difficulty in locating a physician skilled in the diagnosis and treatment of these symptoms, limits their assessment and treatment in India (International Psychogeriatric Association, 1998). Fortunately, in a few Asian countries, empiric data on the frequency of BPSD have been obtained using formal assessment instruments.
Blessed-Roth Dementia Scale has been one of the most widely used rating scales in dementia. Previous studies indicated that this behavioral assessment scale is a useful tool for differentiating elderly subjects with no or minimal intellectual decline from those with cognitive deterioration. In the present study, the authors examined the validity of the Chinese version of the Blessed-Roth Dementia Scale (CDS) in Hong Kong. A total of 106 Chinese subjects were recruited from a social center, an old-age home,and psychogeriatric outpatient clinics. At a cutoff score of 3 of 4, the CDS achieved a sensitivity of 90.5% and specificity of 98.1% in differentiating demented from healthy control subjects. In the Chinese population studied, the scale was readily acceptable and considered to be an useful adjunct in screening of dementia.
Background. The outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) posed an unprecedented threat and a great challenge to health professionals in Hong Kong. The study reported here aimed at investigating the origin of stress and psychological morbidity among frontline healthcare workers in response to this catastrophe.
Method. Self-administered questionnaires were sent to frontline healthcare workers in three hospitals. The General Health Questionnaire was used to identify psychological distress. Sociodemographic and stress variables were entered into a logistic regression analysis to find out the variables associated with psychological morbidity.
Results. The response rate was 40%. Sixty-eight per cent of participants reported a high level of stress. About 57% were found to have experienced psychological distress. The healthcare workers' psychological morbidity was best understood by the perceptions of personal vulnerability, stress and support in the workplace.
Conclusion. These findings shed light on the need for hospital administrators to be aware of the extent and sources of stress and psychological distress among frontline healthcare workers during disease outbreak.
We evaluated the utility of the Chinese version of the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) and measured the prevalence of major depression six weeks after confinement among Chinese women in Hong Kong.
A prospective cohort of 145 women completed the EPDS, the 12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ) and the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) six weeks after giving birth. They were then assessed with the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM–III–R, non-patient version (SCID–NP) to establish psychiatric diagnosis. The criterion validity of EPDS was tested against this clinical diagnosis, and the concurrent validity against the GHQ and BDI scores was also evaluated. The internal consistency of the scales was measured by Cronbach's α coefficient.
The Chinese EPDS had satisfactory psychometric properties and a cut-off score of 9/10 is recommended for screening depressive illness in a general postnatal population. At six weeks postpartum, 5.5% of the study population suffered from major depression.
The Chinese EPDS will be useful for screening for postnatal depression.
Respiratory dyskinesia is characterised by irregularity in rate, rhythm and depth of breathing. This study reports on the clinical features of 11 patients with respiratory dyskinesia identified from a mental hospital in Hong Kong, together with the results of the 24-hour polygraphic recording of seven patients. Virtually all patients with respiratory dyskinesia had tardive dyskinesia. However, the condition was missed or misdiagnosed in all cases by the case psychiatrists. The respiratory irregularity persisted for most of the day and only disappeared when patients took a prolonged rest or fell asleep. A standardised clinical examination for respiratory dyskinesia is proposed.
Anorexia nervosa is a geographically distinct psychiatric disorder; it is rapidly increasing in incidence in Western countries, while being virtually unreported in China, or in the Chinese community of Hong Kong. This is surprising when the Chinese preoccupation with food and their reported readiness to somatise dysphoria are considered. Three Chinese anorectics born and living in Hong Kong and exhibiting mostly typical clinical features are reported. The rarity of the disorder in the East could be related to protective biological and sociocultural factors specific to the Chinese, and while it may become more common, anorexia nervosa is unlikely to reach Western proportions.
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