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Refugees report a diverse array of psychological responses following persecution and displacement. Little is known, however, regarding the mechanisms that underlie differential psychological reactions in refugees. This study investigated the longitudinal impact of negative moral appraisals about one's own actions [i.e. moral injury-self (MI-self) appraisals] and others' actions [i.e. moral injury-other (MI-others) appraisals] on a variety of psychological symptoms over a period of 6 months.
Participants were 1085 Arabic, Farsi, Tamil, or English-speaking refugees who completed a survey at baseline and 6 months later either on-line or via pen-and-paper. The survey indexed demographic factors, exposure to potentially traumatic events (PTEs), exposure to ongoing stressors, MI-other appraisals, MI-self appraisals, re-experiencing and arousal symptoms, and feelings of sadness, anger and shame.
Findings indicated that, after controlling for demographics, PTE exposure and ongoing stressors, MI-other appraisals predicted increased re-experiencing and hyperarousal symptoms, and feelings of sadness and shame. MI-self appraisals predicted decreased feelings of shame, and decreased re-experiencing symptoms. In contrast, psychological symptoms at baseline did not as strongly influence MI appraisals 6 months later.
These findings highlight the important role that cognitive appraisals of adverse events play in the longitudinal course of psychological symptoms. These results thus have important implications for the development of tailored psychological interventions to alleviate the mental health burden held by refugees.
Maternal antenatal depression strongly influences child mental health but with considerable inter-individual variation that is, in part, linked to genotype. The challenge is to effectively capture the genotypic influence. We outline a novel approach to describe genomic susceptibility to maternal antenatal depression focusing on child emotional/behavioral difficulties. Two cohorts provided measures of maternal depression, child genetic variation, and child mental health symptoms. We constructed a conventional polygenic risk score (PRS) for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (PRSADHD) that significantly moderated the association between maternal antenatal depression and internalizing problems at 60 months (p = 2.94 × 10−4, R2 = .18). We then constructed an interaction PRS (xPRS) based on a subset of those single nucleotide polymorphisms from the PRSADHD that most accounted for the moderation of the association between maternal antenatal depression and child outcome. The interaction between maternal antenatal depression and this xPRS accounted for a larger proportion of the variance in child emotional/behavioral problems than models based on any PRSADHD (p = 5.50 × 10−9, R2 = .27), with similar findings in the replication cohort. The xPRS was significantly enriched for genes involved in neuronal development and synaptic function. Our study illustrates a novel approach to the study of genotypic moderation on the impact of maternal antenatal depression on child mental health and highlights the utility of the xPRS approach. These findings advance our understanding of individual differences in the developmental origins of mental health.
Prevalence estimates of childhood and adolescent mental health disorders appear to vary between 20 to 30% worldwide. It is therefore unsurprising that studies have yielded inconsistent findings in regards to the trends of prevalence of mental health disorders. Some reasons for the discrepancy in findings include use of survey data and its associated attrition and selection bias.
Objectives and aims
First, to determine and compare the prevalence of mental health disorders derived from a survey and a population cohort. Second, to evaluate trends of mental health prevalence over time.
As population data (i.e., linked health records) may be used to overcome the issues presented by survey data, we compared the prevalence estimated from a prospective survey cohort (the Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort (Raine study) to another estimate from a prospective population cohort (linked population data; data from the Hospital Morbidity Records and Mental Health Registration).
As expected, the Raine cohort yielded a larger estimate of prevalence when compared to the linked population data. However each cohort also revealed opposite trends of prevalence, where the Raine cohort showed the prevalence of mental health disorders to decrease as children age.
We therefore recommend that estimates of prevalence be interpreted with the type of cohort in mind, as estimates from survey cohorts will provide different information to that from population cohorts.
Maternal mental well being influences offspring development. Research suggests that an interplay between genetic and environmental factors underlies this familial transmission of mental disorders.
To explore an interaction between genetic and environmental factors to predict trajectories of maternal mental well being, and to examine whether these trajectories are associated with epigenetic modifications in mothers and their offspring.
We assessed maternal childhood trauma and rearing experiences, prenatal and postnatal symptoms of depression and stress experience from 6 to 72 months postpartum, and genetic and epigenetic variation in a longitudinal birth-cohort study (n = 262) (Maternal adversity, vulnerability and neurodevelopment project). We used latent class modeling to describe trajectories in maternal depressive symptoms, parenting stress, marital stress and general stress, taking polygenetic risk for major depressive disorder (MDD), a composite score for maternal early life adversities, and prenatal depressive symptoms into account.
Genetic risk for MDD associated with trajectories of maternal well being in the postpartum, conditional on the experience of early life adversities and prenatal symptoms of depression. We will explore whether these trajectories are also linked to DNA methylation patterns in mothers and their offspring. Preliminary analyses suggest that maternal early life adversities associate with offspring DNA methylation age estimates, which is mediated through maternal mental well being and maternal DNA methylation age estimates.
We found relevant gene-environment interactions associated with trajectories of maternal well being. Our findings inform research on mechanisms underlying familial transmission of vulnerability for psychopathology and might thus be relevant to prevention and early intervention programs.
Disclosure of interest
The authors have not supplied their declaration of competing interest.
One of Tom Dishion's most significant contributions to prevention science was the development of affordable, ecologically valid interventions, such as the Family Check-Up, that screen for child and family risk factors broadly, but concentrate family-specific interventions on those with greatest potential for population impact. In the spirit of this approach, investigators examined effects of a brief, universal postnatal home visiting program on child emergency medical care and billing costs from birth to age 24 months. Family Connects is a community-wide public health intervention that combines identification and alignment of community services and resources with brief, postpartum nurse home visits designed to assess risk, provide supportive guidance, and connect families with identified risk to community resources. Over 18 months, families of all 4,777 resident Durham County, North Carolina, births were randomly assigned based on even or odd birth date to receive a postnatal nurse home visiting intervention or services as usual (control). Independently, 549 of these families were randomly selected and participated in an impact evaluation study. Families, blind to study goals, provided written consent to access hospital administrative records. Results indicate that children randomly assigned to Family Connects had significantly less total emergency medical care (by 37%) through age 24 months, with results observed across almost all subgroups. Examination of billing records indicate a $3.17 decrease in total billing costs for each $1 in program costs. Overall, results suggest that community-wide postpartum support program can significantly reduce population rates of child emergency medical care through age 24 months while being cost-beneficial to communities.
Drawing on a landscape analysis of existing data-sharing initiatives, in-depth interviews with expert stakeholders, and public deliberations with community advisory panels across the U.S., we describe features of the evolving medical information commons (MIC). We identify participant-centricity and trustworthiness as the most important features of an MIC and discuss the implications for those seeking to create a sustainable, useful, and widely available collection of linked resources for research and other purposes.
Recent infection testing algorithms (RITA) for HIV combine serological assays with epidemiological data to determine likely recent infections, indicators of ongoing transmission. In 2016, we integrated RITA into national HIV surveillance in Ireland to better inform HIV prevention interventions. We determined the avidity index (AI) of new HIV diagnoses and linked the results with data captured in the national infectious disease reporting system. RITA classified a diagnosis as recent based on an AI < 1.5, unless epidemiological criteria (CD4 count <200 cells/mm3; viral load <400 copies/ml; the presence of AIDS-defining illness; prior antiretroviral therapy use) indicated a potential false-recent result. Of 508 diagnoses in 2016, we linked 448 (88.1%) to an avidity test result. RITA classified 12.5% of diagnoses as recent, with the highest proportion (26.3%) amongst people who inject drugs. On multivariable logistic regression recent infection was more likely with a concurrent sexually transmitted infection (aOR 2.59; 95% CI 1.04–6.45). Data were incomplete for at least one RITA criterion in 48% of cases. The study demonstrated the feasibility of integrating RITA into routine surveillance and showed some ongoing HIV transmission. To improve the interpretation of RITA, further efforts are required to improve completeness of the required epidemiological data.
Chloris spp. are warm-season grasses that outcompete crops for scarce resources throughout Australia. In Queensland, mild winters and increased adoption of conservation tillage practices have led to an increase of this warm-season grass family in winter crops. The objective of this study is to understand whether droplet size (nozzle type) effects herbicide efficacy of summer perennial grasses, as previous research found no effect of droplet size (nozzle type) on herbicide efficacy of winter annual grasses. A study to compare droplet-size (nozzle type) effects on control of windmillgrass and its domesticated relative, rhodesgrass, was conducted at the University of Queensland in Gatton, QLD, Australia. Results showed little difference in dry weight reductions for windmillgrass or rhodesgrass across droplet size (nozzle type). Paraquat applications with the TTI nozzle resulted in significantly lower dry weight reductions compared with other droplet-size sprays (nozzle types) for rhodesgrass. Glyphosate, imazamox plus imazapyr, and clodinafop resulted in commercially acceptable control for both species, regardless of the droplet size (nozzle type) selected, indicating droplet size (nozzle type) has relatively little impact on the efficacy of these herbicides. Proper nozzle selection can result in control of Chloris spp., a hard to control weed species, while reducing the occurrence of spray drift to nearby sensitive areas.
Effective treatment of maternal antenatal depression may ameliorate adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes in offspring. We performed two follow-up rounds of children at age 2 and age 5 whose mothers had received either specialized cognitive-behavioural therapy or routine care for depression while pregnant. Of the original cohort of 54 women, renewed consent was given by 28 women for 2-year follow-up and by 24 women for 5-year follow-up. Child assessments at the 2-year follow-up included the Parenting Stress Index (PSI), Bayley Scales of Infant Development (BSID-III) and the Child Behaviour Checklist (CBCL). The 5-year follow-up included the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scales of Intelligence (WPPSI-III) and again the CBCL. Treatment during pregnancy showed significant benefits for children’s development at age 2, but not at age 5. At 2 years, intervention effects were found with lower scores on the PSI Total score, Parent Domain and Child domain (d=1.44, 1.47, 0.96 respectively). A non-significant trend favoured the intervention group on most subscales of the CBCL and the BSID-III (most notably motor development: d =0.52). In contrast, at 5-year follow-up, no intervention effects were found. Also, irrespective of treatment allocation, higher depression or anxiety during pregnancy was associated with higher CBCL and lower WPPSI-III scores at 5 years. This is one of the first controlled studies to evaluate the long-term effect of antenatal depression treatment on infant neurodevelopmental outcomes, showing some benefit. Nevertheless, caution should be taken interpreting the results because of a small sample size, and larger studies are warranted.
Childhood obesity is a common concern across global cities and threatens sustainable urban development. Initiatives to improve nutrition and encourage physical exercise are promising but are yet to exert significant influence on prevention. Childhood obesity in London is associated with distinct ethnic and socio-economic patterns. Ethnic inequalities in health-related behaviour endure, underpinned by inequalities in employment, housing, access to welfare services, and discrimination. Addressing these growing concerns requires a clearer understanding of the socio-cultural, environmental and economic contexts of urban living that promote obesity. We explore opportunities for prevention using asset based-approaches to nutritional health and well-being, with a particular focus on adolescents from diverse ethnic backgrounds living in London. We focus on the important role that community engagement and multi-sectoral partnership play in improving the nutritional outcomes of London's children. London's children and adolescents grow up in the rich cultural mix of a global city where local streets are characterised by diversity in ethnicities, languages, religions, foods, and customs, creating complex and fluid identities. Growing up with such everyday diversity we argue can enhance the quality of life for London's children and strengthen their social capital. The Determinants of young Adult Social well-being and Health longitudinal study of about 6500 of London's young people demonstrated the positive impact of cultural diversity. Born to parents from over a hundred countries and exposed to multi-lingual households and religious practices, they demonstrated strong psychological resilience and sense of pride from cultural straddling, despite material disadvantage and discrimination. Supporting the potential contribution of such socio-cultural assets is in keeping with the values of social justice and equitable and sustainable development. Our work signals the importance of community engagement and multisectoral partnerships, involving, for example, schools and faith-based organisations, to improve the nutrition of London's children.
The mental health and social functioning of millions of forcibly displaced individuals worldwide represents a key public health priority for host governments. This is the first longitudinal study with a representative sample to examine the impact of interpersonal trust and psychological symptoms on community engagement in refugees.
Participants were 1894 resettled refugees, assessed within 6 months of receiving a permanent visa in Australia, and again 2–3 years later. Variables measured included post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, depression/anxiety symptoms, interpersonal trust and engagement with refugees’ own and other communities.
A multilevel path analysis was conducted, with the final model evidencing good fit (Comparative Fit Index = 0.97, Tucker–Lewis Index = 0.89, Root Mean Square Error of Approximation = 0.05, Standardized Root-Mean-Square-Residual = 0.05). Findings revealed that high levels of depression symptoms were associated with lower subsequent engagement with refugees’ own communities. In contrast, low levels of interpersonal trust were associated with lower engagement with the host community over the same timeframe.
Findings point to differential pathways to social engagement in the medium-term post-resettlement. Results indicate that depression symptoms are linked to reduced engagement with one's own community, while interpersonal trust is implicated in engagement with the broader community in the host country. These findings have potentially important implications for policy and clinical practice, suggesting that clinical and support services should target psychological symptoms and interpersonal processes when fostering positive adaptation in resettled refugees.
A recent article in this journal reported a number of gene × environment interactions involving a serotonin transporter–gene network polygenic score and a composite index of prenatal adversity predicting several problem behavior outcomes at 48 months (e.g., anxious/depressed, pervasive developmental problems) and at 60 months (e.g., withdrawal, internalizing problems), yet did not illuminate the nature or form these genetic × environment interactions took. Here we report results of six additional analyses to evaluate whether these interactions reflected diathesis–stress or differential–susceptibility related processes. Analyses of the regions of significance and proportion of interaction index are consistent with the diathesis–stress model, seemingly because of the truncated nature of the adversity score (which did not extend to supportive/positive prenatal experiences/exposures); in contrast, the proportion (of cases) affected index favors the differential–susceptibility model. These results suggest the need for future studies to extend measurement of the prenatal environment to highly supportive experiences and exposures.
Prenatal adversity shapes child neurodevelopment and risk for later mental health problems. The quality of the early care environment can buffer some of the negative effects of prenatal adversity on child development. Retrospective studies, in adult samples, highlight epigenetic modifications as sentinel markers of the quality of the early care environment; however, comparable data from pediatric cohorts are lacking. Participants were drawn from the Maternal Adversity Vulnerability and Neurodevelopment (MAVAN) study, a longitudinal cohort with measures of infant attachment, infant development, and child mental health. Children provided buccal epithelial samples (mean age = 6.99, SD = 1.33 years, n = 226), which were used for analyses of genome-wide DNA methylation and genetic variation. We used a series of linear models to describe the association between infant attachment and (a) measures of child outcome and (b) DNA methylation across the genome. Paired genetic data was used to determine the genetic contribution to DNA methylation at attachment-associated sites. Infant attachment style was associated with infant cognitive development (Mental Development Index) and behavior (Behavior Rating Scale) assessed with the Bayley Scales of Infant Development at 36 months. Infant attachment style moderated the effects of prenatal adversity on Behavior Rating Scale scores at 36 months. Infant attachment was also significantly associated with a principal component that accounted for 11.9% of the variation in genome-wide DNA methylation. These effects were most apparent when comparing children with a secure versus a disorganized attachment style and most pronounced in females. The availability of paired genetic data revealed that DNA methylation at approximately half of all infant attachment-associated sites was best explained by considering both infant attachment and child genetic variation. This study provides further evidence that infant attachment can buffer some of the negative effects of early adversity on measures of infant behavior. We also highlight the interplay between infant attachment and child genotype in shaping variation in DNA methylation. Such findings provide preliminary evidence for a molecular signature of infant attachment and may help inform attachment-focused early intervention programs.
There is clear evidence that the mother's stress, anxiety, or depression during pregnancy can alter the development of her fetus and her child, with an increased risk for later psychopathology. We are starting to understand some of the underlying mechanisms including the role of the placenta, gene–environment interactions, epigenetics, and specific systems including the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis and cytokines. In this review we also consider how these effects may be different, and potentially exacerbated, in different parts of the world. There can be many reasons for elevated prenatal stress, as in communities at war. There may be raised pregnancy-specific anxiety with high levels of maternal and infant death. There can be raised interpersonal violence (in Afghanistan 90.2% of women thought that “wife beating” was justified compared with 2.0% in Argentina). There may be interactions with nutritional deficiencies or with extremes of temperature. Prenatal stress alters the microbiome, and this can differ in different countries. Genetic differences in different ethnic groups may make some more vulnerable or more resilient to the effects of prenatal stress on child neurodevelopment. Most research on these questions has been in predominantly Caucasian samples from high-income countries. It is now time to understand more about prenatal stress and psychopathology, and the role of both social and biological differences, in the rest of the world.
We evaluated and compared the completeness, timeliness, simplicity, usefulness and flexibility between the former National Tuberculosis (TB) Surveillance System (NTBSS) and the newer Computerised Infectious Disease Reporting System (CIDR). Completeness was assessed by examining the field completion of key variables and median time from diagnosis to notification was calculated to evaluate timeliness. Differences between the two systems on completeness and timeliness were statistically assessed using χ2 and Wilcoxon rank-sum test, respectively. An online questionnaire on simplicity, flexibility and usefulness was sent to key stakeholders. Time and diagnosis-related variables were more complete in NTBSS, while variables on drug susceptibility, HIV and laboratory tests were more complete in CIDR (P < 0.05). The median time notification interval increased significantly in CIDR (P < 0.05). Stakeholders thought that CIDR is simpler (37.5%), more useful (41.7%) and more flexible (29.2%) than NTBSS. This study demonstrated that CIDR did not improve data completeness and decreased timeliness of notification. Simplicity, usefulness and flexibility were improved but qualitative methods should be applied to further explore these results.
Recent findings highlight that there are prenatal risks for affective disorders that are mediated by glucocorticoid mechanisms, and may be specific to females. There is also evidence of sex differences in prenatal programming mechanisms and developmental psychopathology, whereby effects are in opposite directions in males and females. As birth weight is a risk for affective disorders, we sought to investigate whether maternal prenatal cortisol may have sex-specific effects on fetal growth. Participants were 241 mothers selected from the Wirral Child Health and Development Study (WCHADS) cohort (n=1233) using a psychosocial risk stratifier, so that responses could be weighted back to the general population. Mothers provided saliva samples, which were assayed for cortisol, at home over 2 days at 32 weeks gestation (on waking, 30-min post-waking and during the evening). Measures of infant birth weight (corrected for gestational age) were taken from hospital records. General population estimates of associations between variables were obtained using inverse probability weights. Maternal log of the area under the curve cortisol predicted infant birth weight in a sex-dependent manner (interaction term P=0.029). There was a positive and statistically significant association between prenatal cortisol in males, and a negative association in females that was not statistically significant. A sex interaction in the same direction was evident when using the waking (P=0.015), and 30-min post-waking (P=0.013) cortisol, but not the evening measure. There was no interaction between prenatal cortisol and sex to predict gestational age. Our findings add to an emerging literature that suggests that there may be sex-specific mechanisms that underpin fetal programming.
HIV-positive individuals are at significantly increased risk of depression. In low- and middle-income countries, depression is frequently under-detected, hampered by a lack of data regarding available screening tools. The 5-item World Health Organization Well-Being Index (WHO-5) is widely used to screen for depression, yet its validity in African adults with HIV has yet to be examined.
In this cross-sectional study, we enrolled HIV-positive adults presenting to an outpatient HIV clinic in Mwanza, Tanzania. Patients were administered the Patient Health Questionnaires (PHQ)-2/9 and WHO-5 questionnaires. The rate of positive screens was calculated. Fisher's exact test and Pearson's correlation coefficients between PHQ-2/9 and WHO-5 scores were calculated.
We enrolled 72 HIV-positive adults: rates of positive depression screen were 62.5%, 77.8%, and 47.2% according to PHQ-2, PHQ-9, and WHO-5, respectively. PHQ and WHO results for depression were significantly associated (Fisher's exact test: PHQ-2 v. WHO-5, p = 0.028; PHQ-9 v. WHO-5, p = 0.002). The level of correlation between PHQ and WHO results for depression was moderate (Pearson's correlation coefficient: PHQ-2 v. WHO-5 −0.3289; PHQ-9 v. WHO-5 −0.4463).Per Mantel–Haenszel analysis, screening results were significantly more concordant among patients in the following strata: men, age >40, Sukuma ethnicity, Christian, unmarried, self-employed, at least primary school education completed, and higher than the median income level.
WHO-5 scores correlated well with those of the PHQ-9, suggesting that the WHO-5 represents a valid screening tool. The concordance of PHQ-9 and WHO-5 results was poorer in marginalized socioeconomic groups. Positive depression screens were exceedingly common among HIV-positive Tanzanian adults according to all three questionnaires.
While many studies focus on the association between early life adversity and the later risk for psychopathology, few simultaneously explore diverse forms of environmental adversity. Moreover, those studies that examined the cumulative impact of early life adversity focus uniquely on postnatal influences. The objective of this study was to focus on the fetal period of development to construct and validate a cumulative prenatal adversity score in relation to a wide range of neurodevelopmental outcomes. We also examined the interaction of this adversity score with a biologically informed genetic score based on the serotonin transporter gene. Prenatal adversities were computed in two community birth cohorts using information on health during pregnancy, birth weight, gestational age, income, domestic violence/sexual abuse, marital strain, as well as maternal smoking, anxiety, and depression. A genetic score based on genes coexpressed with the serotonin transporter in the amygdala, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex during prenatal life was constructed with an emphasis on functionally relevant single nucleotide polymorphisms, that is, expression quantitative trait loci. Prenatal adversities predicted a wide range of developmental and behavioral alterations in children as young as 2 years of age in both cohorts. There were interactions between the genetic score and adversities for several domains of the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL), with pervasive developmental problems remaining significant adjustment for multiple comparisons. Scores combining different prenatal adverse exposures predict childhood behavior and interact with the genetic background to influence the risk for psychopathology.
To determine the patterns and predictors of treatment response trajectories for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Conditional latent growth mixture modelling was used to identify classes and predictors of class membership. In total, 2686 veterans treated for PTSD between 2002 and 2015 across 14 hospitals in Australia completed the PTSD Checklist at intake, discharge, and 3 and 9 months follow-up. Predictor variables included co-morbid mental health problems, relationship functioning, employment and compensation status.
Five distinct classes were found: those with the most severe PTSD at intake separated into a relatively large class (32.5%) with small change, and a small class (3%) with a large change. Those with slightly less severe PTSD separated into one class comprising 49.9% of the total sample with large change effects, and a second class comprising 7.9% with extremely large treatment effects. The final class (6.7%) with least severe PTSD at intake also showed a large treatment effect. Of the multiple predictor variables, depression and guilt were the only two found to predict differences in response trajectories.
These findings highlight the importance of assessing guilt and depression prior to treatment for PTSD, and for severe cases with co-morbid guilt and depression, considering an approach to trauma-focused therapy that specifically targets guilt and depression-related cognitions.