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The development of the medical student is not based solely on the acquisition of knowledge but also on development of skills and appropriate attitude. This requires ability to communicate effectively with patients and colleagues, sensitivity to patient needs, and the capability to influence patients to take the appropriate decisions and maintain behaviour change.
Recent years have seen marked changes in medical school curricula to support this and greater emphasis has also been made post Shipman.
The Faculty of Medicine and Surgery of the University of Malta has moved strongly in this direction. The Department of Psychiatry has led this and developed new courses, longitudinally throughout the curriculum.
The course in Behavioural Sciences was developed with emphasis on student-centred learning in small groups. It focuses on interpersonal communication, teamwork, reflective experience, holistic and patient-centred care, personal development and avoidance of burn out.
A vertical course in Psychology and Sociology in Relation to Health Care has also been introduced and the Course in Psychiatry has been redeveloped in accordance with recommendations of the World Federation of Medical Education and the World Psychiatric Association.
These new developments in the curriculum are described and explored.
Emerging research highlights the importance of the timing of the onset of a depressive episode. This study examines the risk factors and psychiatric features of participants who experienced their first major depressive episode as children, teenagers or adults. This study is unique in that it emphasises the importance of examining onset of an episode during critical developmental periods.
Participants were 372 depressed outpatients who were either treated with psychotherapy (IPT or CBT) or medication as part of two separate randomised clinical trials. Participants completed a number of assessment measures including clinician ratings of DSM diagnoses. Personality was also assessed using Cloninger's (e.g., 1994) Temperament and Character Inventory.
Participants with childhood onset and teenage-onset depression had a higher number of co-morbid diagnoses and more DSM III/IV personality disorder diagnoses than those with adult-onset depression. Specifically, more participants with childhood or teenage onset depression had diagnoses of avoidant and borderline personality disorder. Women who had childhood onset depression were over three times more likely to have attempted suicide compared to other participants. Participants with childhood onset depression were also more likely to report being threatened with abuse, have experienced psychological abuse and reported more abuse incidents. Age of onset was also associated with a number of differences in temperament and character.
This research emphasises the significance of understanding the age of onset of a depressive episode. Depressive episodes that begin in childhood/adolescence are associated with higher co-morbidity and greater personality dysfunction.
The Danish Longitudinal Study on Alcoholism was designed to identify predictors of adult male alcoholism. The present study examines the predictability of premorbid personality disorders.
Subjects were selected from a Danish birth cohort (n = 9125, born 1959 – 61) that included 223 sons of alcoholic fathers (high risk = HR) and 106 matched sons of non-alcoholics (low risk = LR). These subjects have been studied systematically over the past 40 years. Most recently, they were evaluated at age 40 (n = 202) by a psychiatrist using structured interviews and DSM-III-R criteria to diagnose an Alcohol Use Disorder.
HR subjects were more likely than LR subjects to develop alcohol dependence over the past 40 years (31% vs. 16%, p < .03). However, HR subjects were not more likely to develop alcohol abuse (17% vs. 15%). Both ADHD (as measured by school teachers) and ASPD (onset before age 15) predicted alcoholism independently at age 40. ADHD and ASPD were much stronger independent predictors of adult alcoholism than parental risk status. Other personality and anxiety disorders did not predict an alcoholic outcome.
Paternal alcoholism predicted alcohol dependence in sons at age 40. But the most predictive premorbid variables were ASPD and ADHD, both with onset in childhood and adolescence.
This paper explores dependencies between operational risks and between operational risks and other risks such as market, credit and insurance risk. The paper starts by setting the regulatory context and then goes into practical aspects of operational risk dependencies. Next, methods of modelling operational risk dependencies are considered with a simulation study exploring the sensitivity of diversification benefits arising from dependency models. The following two sections consider how correlation assumptions may be set, highlighting some generic dependencies between operational risks and with non-operational risks to assist in the assessment of dependencies and correlation assumptions. Supplementary appendices provide further detail on generic dependencies as well as a case study of how business models can lead to operational risks interacting with other risks. Finally, the paper finishes with a literature review of operational risk dependency papers including correlation studies and benchmark reports.
Preoperative mechanical ventilation is associated with morbidity and mortality following CHD surgery, but prior studies lack a comprehensive analysis of how preoperative respiratory support mode and timing affects outcomes.
We retrospectively collected data on children <18 years of age undergoing cardiac surgery at an academic tertiary care medical centre. Using multivariable regression, we examined the association between modes of preoperative respiratory support (nasal cannula, high-flow nasal cannula/noninvasive ventilation, or invasive mechanical ventilation), escalation of preoperative respiratory support, and invasive mechanical ventilation on the day of surgery for three outcomes: operative mortality, postoperative length of stay, and postoperative complications. We repeated our analysis in a subcohort of neonates.
A total of 701 children underwent 800 surgical procedures, and 40% received preoperative respiratory support. Among neonates, 243 patients underwent 253 surgical procedures, and 79% received preoperative respiratory support. In multivariable analysis, all modes of preoperative respiratory support, escalation in preoperative respiratory support, and invasive mechanical ventilation on the day of surgery were associated with increased odds of prolonged length of stay in children and neonates. Children (odds ratio = 3.69, 95% CI 1.2–11.4) and neonates (odds ratio = 8.97, 95% CI 1.31–61.14) on high-flow nasal cannula/noninvasive ventilation had increased odds of operative mortality compared to those on room air.
Preoperative respiratory support is associated with prolonged length of stay and mortality following CHD surgery. Knowing how preoperative respiratory support affects outcomes may help guide surgical timing, inform prognostic conversations, and improve risk stratification models.
To identify genetic risk loci for major depressive disorder (MDD), two broad study design approaches have been applied: (1) to maximize sample size by combining data from different phenotype assessment modalities (e.g. clinical interview, self-report questionnaires) and (2) to reduce phenotypic heterogeneity through selecting more homogenous MDD subtypes. The value of these strategies has been debated. In this review, we summarize the most recent findings of large genomic studies that applied these approaches, and we highlight the merits and pitfalls of both approaches with particular attention to methodological and psychometric issues. We also discuss the results of analyses that investigated the heterogeneity of MDD. We conclude that both study designs are essential for further research. So far, increasing sample size has led to the identification of a relatively high number of genomic loci linked to depression. However, part of the identified variants may be related to a phenotype common to internalizing disorders and related traits. As such, samples containing detailed clinical information are needed to dissect depression heterogeneity and enable the potential identification of variants specific to a more restricted MDD phenotype. A balanced portfolio reconciling both study design approaches is the optimal approach to progress further in unraveling the genetic architecture of depression.
Epoch of Reionisation (EoR) data analysis requires unprecedented levels of accuracy in radio interferometer pipelines. We have developed an imaging power spectrum analysis to meet these requirements and generate robust 21 cm EoR measurements. In this work, we build a signal path framework to mathematically describe each step in the analysis, from data reduction in the Fast Holographic Deconvolution (FHD) package to power spectrum generation in the εppsilon package. In particular, we focus on the distinguishing characteristics of FHD/εppsilon: highly accurate spectral calibration, extensive data verification products, and end-to-end error propagation. We present our key data analysis products in detail to facilitate understanding of the prominent systematics in image-based power spectrum analyses. As a verification to our analysis, we also highlight a full-pipeline analysis simulation to demonstrate signal preservation and lack of signal loss. This careful treatment ensures that the FHD/εppsilon power spectrum pipeline can reduce radio interferometric data to produce credible 21 cm EoR measurements.
Most studies underline the contribution of heritable factors for psychiatric disorders. However, heritability estimates depend on the population under study, diagnostic instruments, and study designs that each has its inherent assumptions, strengths, and biases. We aim to test the homogeneity in heritability estimates between two powerful, and state of the art study designs for eight psychiatric disorders.
We assessed heritability based on data of Swedish siblings (N = 4 408 646 full and maternal half-siblings), and based on summary data of eight samples with measured genotypes (N = 125 533 cases and 208 215 controls). All data were based on standard diagnostic criteria. Eight psychiatric disorders were studied: (1) alcohol dependence (AD), (2) anorexia nervosa, (3) attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), (4) autism spectrum disorder, (5) bipolar disorder, (6) major depressive disorder, (7) obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and (8) schizophrenia.
Heritability estimates from sibling data varied from 0.30 for Major Depression to 0.80 for ADHD. The estimates based on the measured genotypes were lower, ranging from 0.10 for AD to 0.28 for OCD, but were significant, and correlated positively (0.19) with national sibling-based estimates. When removing OCD from the data the correlation increased to 0.50.
Given the unique character of each study design, the convergent findings for these eight psychiatric conditions suggest that heritability estimates are robust across different methods. The findings also highlight large differences in genetic and environmental influences between psychiatric disorders, providing future directions for etiological psychiatric research.
Race, psychiatric history, and adverse life events have all been independently associated with postpartum depression (PPD). However, the role these play together in Black and Latina women remains inadequately studied. Therefore, we performed a case–control study of PPD, including comprehensive assessments of symptoms and biomarkers, while examining the effects of genetic ancestry.
We recruited our sample (549 cases, 968 controls) at 6 weeks postpartum from obstetrical clinics in North Carolina. PPD status was determined using the MINI-plus. Psychiatric history was extracted from medical records. Participants were administered self-report instruments to assess depression (Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale) and adverse life events. Levels of estradiol, progesterone, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, oxytocin, and allopregnanalone were assayed. Principal components from genotype data were used to estimate genetic ancestry and logistic regression was used to identify predictors of PPD.
This population was racially diverse (68% Black, 13% Latina, 18% European). Genetic ancestry was not a predictor of PPD. Case status was predicted by a history of major depression (p = 4.01E-14), lifetime anxiety disorder diagnosis (p = 1.25E-34), and adverse life events (p = 6.06E-06). There were no significant differences between groups in any hormones or neurosteroids.
Psychiatric history and multiple exposures to adverse life events were significant predictors of PPD in a population of minority and low-income women. Genetic ancestry and hormone levels were not predictive of case status. Increased genetic vulnerability in conjunction with risk factors may predict the onset of PPD, whereas genetic ancestry does not appear predictive.
Family history is a long-standing and readily obtainable risk factor for schizophrenia (SCZ). Low-cost genotyping technologies have enabled large genetic studies of SCZ, and the results suggest the utility of genetic risk scores (GRS, direct assessments of inherited common variant risk). Few studies have evaluated family history and GRS simultaneously to ask whether one can explain away the other.
We studied 5959 SCZ cases and 8717 controls from four Nordic countries. All subjects had family history data from national registers and genome-wide genotypes that were processed through the quality control procedures used by the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium. Using external training data, GRS were estimated for SCZ, bipolar disorder (BIP), major depression, autism, educational attainment, and body mass index. Multivariable modeling was used to estimate effect sizes.
Using harmonized genomic and national register data from Denmark, Estonia, Norway, and Sweden, we confirmed that family history of SCZ and GRS for SCZ and BIP were risk factors for SCZ. In a joint model, the effects of GRS for SCZ and BIP were essentially unchanged, and the effect of family history was attenuated but remained significant. The predictive capacity of a model including GRS and family history neared the minimum for clinical utility.
Combining national register data with measured genetic risk factors represents an important investigative approach for psychotic disorders. Our findings suggest the potential clinical utility of combining GRS and family history for early prediction and diagnostic improvements.
We present techniques developed to calibrate and correct Murchison Widefield Array low-frequency (72–300 MHz) radio observations for polarimetry. The extremely wide field-of-view, excellent instantaneous (u, v)-coverage and sensitivity to degree-scale structure that the Murchison Widefield Array provides enable instrumental calibration, removal of instrumental artefacts, and correction for ionospheric Faraday rotation through imaging techniques. With the demonstrated polarimetric capabilities of the Murchison Widefield Array, we discuss future directions for polarimetric science at low frequencies to answer outstanding questions relating to polarised source counts, source depolarisation, pulsar science, low-mass stars, exoplanets, the nature of the interstellar and intergalactic media, and the solar environment.
Universal screening for postpartum depression is recommended in many countries. Knowledge of whether the disclosure of depressive symptoms in the postpartum period differs across cultures could improve detection and provide new insights into the pathogenesis. Moreover, it is a necessary step to evaluate the universal use of screening instruments in research and clinical practice. In the current study we sought to assess whether the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS), the most widely used screening tool for postpartum depression, measures the same underlying construct across cultural groups in a large international dataset.
Ordinal regression and measurement invariance were used to explore the association between culture, operationalized as education, ethnicity/race and continent, and endorsement of depressive symptoms using the EPDS on 8209 new mothers from Europe and the USA.
Education, but not ethnicity/race, influenced the reporting of postpartum depression [difference between robust comparative fit indexes (∆*CFI) < 0.01]. The structure of EPDS responses significantly differed between Europe and the USA (∆*CFI > 0.01), but not between European countries (∆*CFI < 0.01).
Investigators and clinicians should be aware of the potential differences in expression of phenotype of postpartum depression that women of different educational backgrounds may manifest. The increasing cultural heterogeneity of societies together with the tendency towards globalization requires a culturally sensitive approach to patients, research and policies, that takes into account, beyond rhetoric, the context of a person's experiences and the context in which the research is conducted.
Data were pooled from three Australian sentinel general practice influenza surveillance networks to estimate Australia-wide influenza vaccine coverage and effectiveness against community presentations for laboratory-confirmed influenza for the 2012, 2013 and 2014 seasons. Patients presenting with influenza-like illness at participating GP practices were swabbed and tested for influenza. The vaccination odds of patients testing positive were compared with patients testing negative to estimate influenza vaccine effectiveness (VE) by logistic regression, adjusting for age group, week of presentation and network. Pooling of data across Australia increased the sample size for estimation from a minimum of 684 to 3,683 in 2012, from 314 to 2,042 in 2013 and from 497 to 3,074 in 2014. Overall VE was 38% [95% confidence interval (CI) 24–49] in 2012, 60% (95% CI 45–70) in 2013 and 44% (95% CI 31–55) in 2014. For A(H1N1)pdm09 VE was 54% (95% CI–28 to 83) in 2012, 59% (95% CI 33–74) in 2013 and 55% (95% CI 39–67) in 2014. For A(H3N2), VE was 30% (95% CI 14–44) in 2012, 67% (95% CI 39–82) in 2013 and 26% (95% CI 1–45) in 2014. For influenza B, VE was stable across years at 56% (95% CI 37–70) in 2012, 57% (95% CI 30–73) in 2013 and 54% (95% CI 21–73) in 2014. Overall VE against influenza was low in 2012 and 2014 when A(H3N2) was the dominant strain and the vaccine was poorly matched. In contrast, overall VE was higher in 2013 when A(H1N1)pdm09 dominated and the vaccine was a better match. Pooling data can increase the sample available and enable more precise subtype- and age group-specific estimates, but limitations remain.
Childhood emotional maltreatment (CEM) increases the likelihood of developing an anxiety disorder in adulthood, but the neural processes underlying conferment of this risk have not been established. Here, we test the potential for neuroimaging the adult brain to inform understanding of the mechanism linking CEM to adult anxiety symptoms.
One hundred eighty-two adults (148 females, 34 males) with a normal-to-clinical range of anxiety symptoms underwent structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging while completing an emotion-processing paradigm with facial expressions of fear, anger, and happiness. Participants completed self-report measures of CEM and current anxiety symptoms. Voxelwise mediation analyses on gray-matter volumes and activation to each emotion condition were used to identify candidate brain mechanisms relating CEM to anxiety in adulthood.
During processing of fear and anger faces, greater amygdala and less right dorsolateral prefrontal (dlPFC) activation partially mediated the positive relationship between CEM and anxiety symptoms. Greater right posterior insula activation to fear also partially mediated this relationship, as did greater ventral anterior cingulate (ACC) and less dorsal ACC activation to anger. Responses to happy faces in these regions did not mediate the CEM-anxiety relationship. Smaller right dlPFC gray-matter volumes also partially mediated the CEM-anxiety relationship.
Activation patterns of the adult brain demonstrate the potential to inform mechanistic accounts of the CEM conferment of anxiety symptoms. Results support the hypothesis that exaggerated limbic activation to negative valence facial emotions links CEM to anxiety symptoms, which may be consequent to a breakdown of cortical regulatory processes.
The Murchison Widefield Array is a new low-frequency interferometric radio telescope built in Western Australia at one of the locations of the future Square Kilometre Array. We describe the automated radio-frequency interference detection strategy implemented for the Murchison Widefield Array, which is based on the aoflagger platform, and present 72–231 MHz radio-frequency interference statistics from 10 observing nights. Radio-frequency interference detection removes 1.1% of the data. Radio-frequency interference from digital TV is observed 3% of the time due to occasional ionospheric or atmospheric propagation. After radio-frequency interference detection and excision, almost all data can be calibrated and imaged without further radio-frequency interference mitigation efforts, including observations within the FM and digital TV bands. The results are compared to a previously published Low-Frequency Array radio-frequency interference survey. The remote location of the Murchison Widefield Array results in a substantially cleaner radio-frequency interference environment compared to Low-Frequency Array’s radio environment, but adequate detection of radio-frequency interference is still required before data can be analysed. We include specific recommendations designed to make the Square Kilometre Array more robust to radio-frequency interference, including: the availability of sufficient computing power for radio-frequency interference detection; accounting for radio-frequency interference in the receiver design; a smooth band-pass response; and the capability of radio-frequency interference detection at high time and frequency resolution (second and kHz-scale respectively).
Although evidence exists for abnormal brain function across various
anxiety disorders, direct comparison of neural function across diagnoses
is needed to elicit abnormalities common across disorders and those
distinct to a particular diagnosis.
To delineate common and distinct abnormalities within generalised anxiety
(GAD), panic and social anxiety disorder (SAD) during affective
Fifty-nine adults (15 with GAD, 15 with panic disorder, 14 with SAD, and
15 healthy controls) underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging
while completing a facial emotion matching task with fearful, angry and
Greater differential right amygdala activation to matching fearful
v. happy facial expressions related to greater
negative affectivity (i.e. trait anxiety) and was heightened across all
anxiety disorder groups compared with controls. Collapsing across
emotional face types, participants with panic disorder uniquely displayed
greater posterior insula activation.
These preliminary results highlight a common neural basis for clinical
anxiety in these diagnoses and also suggest the presence of
Psychotic phenomena are common in the general population but are excluded from diagnostic criteria for mild to moderate depression and anxiety despite their co-occurrence and shared risk factors. We used item response theory modelling to examine whether the co-occurrence of depressive, anxiety and psychotic phenomena is best explained by: (1) a single underlying factor; (2) two separate, uncorrelated factors; (3) two separate yet linked factors; or (4) two separate domains along with an underlying ‘common mental distress’ (CMD) factor. We defined where, along any latent continuum, the psychopathological items contributed most information.
We performed a secondary analysis of cross-sectional, item-level information from measures of depression, anxiety and psychotic experiences in 6617 participants aged 13 years from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) birth cohort and 977 participants aged 18 years from the ROOTS schools-based sample. We replicated results from one sample in the other and validated the latent factors against an earlier parental measure of mental state.
In both cohorts depression, anxiety and psychotic items were best represented as a bi-factor model with a single, unitary CMD factor on which psychotic items conveyed information about the more severe end (model 4); residual variation remained for psychotic items. The CMD factor was significantly associated with the prior parental measure.
Psychotic phenomena co-occur with depression and anxiety in teenagers and may be a marker of severity in a single, unitary dimension of CMD. Psychotic phenomena should be routinely included in epidemiological assessments of psychiatric morbidity, otherwise the most severe symptomatology remains unmeasured.
Patients with anxiety disorders suffer marked functional impairment in their activities of daily living. Many studies have documented that improvements in anxiety symptom severity predict functioning improvements. However, no studies have investigated how improvements in functioning simultaneously predict symptom reduction. We hypothesized that symptom levels at a given time point will predict functioning at the subsequent time point, and simultaneously that functioning at a given time point will predict symptom levels at a subsequent time point.
Patients were recruited from primary-care centers for the Coordinated Anxiety Learning and Management (CALM) study and were randomized to receive either computer-assisted cognitive-behavioral therapy and/or medication management (ITV) or usual care (UC). A cross-lagged panel design examined the relationship between functional impairment and anxiety and depression symptom severity at baseline, 6-, 12-, and 18-month follow-up assessments.
Prospective prediction of functioning from symptoms and symptoms from functioning were both important in modeling these associations. Anxiety and depression predicted functioning as strongly as functioning predicted anxiety and depression. There were some differences in these associations between UC and ITV. Where differences emerged, the UC group was best modeled with prospective paths predicting functioning from symptoms, whereas symptoms and functioning were both important predictors in the ITV group.
Treatment outcome is best captured by measures of functional impairment as well as symptom severity. Implications for treatment are discussed, as well as future directions of research.