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COVID-19 had the potential to dramatically increase public support for welfare. It was a time of apparent increased solidarity, of apparently deserving claimants, and of increasingly widespread exposure to the benefits system. However, there are also reasons to expect the opposite effect: an increase in financial strain fostering austerity and self-interest, and thermostatic responses to increasing welfare generosity. In this paper, we investigate the effects of the pandemic on attitudes towards working-age unemployment benefits in the UK using a unique combination of data sources: (i) temporally fine-grained data on attitudinal change over the course of the pandemic; and (ii) a novel nationally representative survey contrasting attitudes towards pandemic-era and pre-pandemic claimants (including analysis of free-text responses). Our results show that the pandemic prompted little change in UK welfare attitudes. However, we also find that COVID-era unemployment claimants were perceived as substantially more deserving than those claiming prior to the pandemic. This contrast suggests a strong degree of ‘COVID exceptionalism’ – with COVID claimants seen as categorically different from conventional claimants, muting the effect of the pandemic on welfare attitudes overall.
Memory complaint in the absence of organic pathology is a common phenomenon accounting for up to one third of patients presenting to memory clinics. Health anxiety has been specifically linked to dementia worry and repeated presentations to the National Health Service (NHS). Providing reassurance that an individual does not have dementia appears ineffective in reducing presentations to primary and secondary care services.
This study sought to evaluate and establish the effectiveness of a 1-hour pilot training workshop to enhance healthcare professionals’ knowledge and confidence to those with health anxiety around cognitive decline.
The one-session pilot training workshop was developed and informed by previous work and consultation with the 2Gether NHS Foundation Trust Memory Assessment Service staff. The training workshop was then evaluated by employing an idiosyncratic self-report questionnaire. Participants completed the questionnaire prior to and after the training workshop.
Pre- and post-training questionnaires revealed that the pilot training workshop was effective in increasing perceived knowledge and confidence in staff responding to patients presenting with health anxiety and co-occurring subjective memory complaints.
The findings suggest that healthcare professionals may benefit from training in identifying and addressing health-anxious individuals with subjective memory complaints. This may have implications in the provision of psychologically informed care offered in a memory assessment service. Recommendations are made for further enhancing the effectiveness of staff training and promoting alternative service treatment pathways.
This systematic literature review surveyed the evidence for the acceptability and effectiveness of CBT and psychologically based interventions for emergency department (ED) attenders with physical health complaints as their primary concern, in light of over-burdened EDs and the existing evidence base for psychological interventions in other medical settings. The review protocol was registered with the International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews (PROSPERO; CRD42018087860). A systematic search of three databases (APAPsychNet, Cochrane and PubMed) was performed to identify psychological treatment studies targeting physical health problems presenting in the ED, with broad inclusion criteria to capture a coherent understanding of the current knowledge base. A total of 2606 potential studies for inclusion were identified; 45 proceeded to full review. Twenty papers met the full inclusion. Included studies covered four clinical areas: trauma/PTSD-prevention, panic attacks, non-cardiac chest-pain and miscellaneous. A narrative description of findings reflected positive outcomes across all groups, but this was not consistent across any group. Few studies measured ED attendance (20%) or satisfaction/acceptability (10%). The majority of studies (90%) were underpinned by a cognitive behavioural framework, consistent with the current evidence base as applied to the management of medical conditions. Findings suggest there is some evidence that interventions in the ED are effective and acceptable to patients, but interpretation of findings is limited by the mixed quality of designs and risk of bias.
Key learning aims
(1) To understand the current body of evidence for the feasibility and effectiveness of psychological interventions in the emergency department.
(2) To gain a clear understanding of the models and format of the delivery of CBT and psychological interventions in an acute setting.
(3) To identify gaps in the evidence to inform future development of CBT-based interventions to improve outcomes and clinical care.
Health anxiety in attendees of out-patient medical clinics is well established; however, there has been a lack of research into health anxiety within emergency settings.
This study explored the prevalence of health anxiety in ambulatory presentations in a tertiary emergency department (ED) as well as the factors associated with pain and health anxiety in this setting.
A cross-sectional questionnaire design was used to gather data from adult ED ambulatory attendees across a 4-day sampling period to assess psychological and physical health variables. Number of attendances to ED over the previous 12 months was accessed through healthcare records.
Of the final sample (n = 106), 77% were white British, 54% were male, and 14% presented with severe health anxiety as measured by the Short Health Anxiety Inventory (≥18). Participants with pre-existing health conditions had significantly higher levels of health anxiety (M = 12.36, SE = 1.59) compared with those without (M = 7.79, SE = 0.66). Stepwise multiple regression analyses identified anxiety sensitivity and pain catastrophizing as significant independent predictors of health anxiety, explaining 51% of the variance in health anxiety. Pain catastrophizing was also a significant independent predictor of pain level, accounting for 20% of the variance.
This study provides insight into the prevalence of health anxiety in ED ambulatory presentations and key psychological predictors of health anxiety and pain. This has implications for treatment in an ED setting whereby patients may benefit from referral to medical psychology or mental health services.
This paper proposes and analyses a stochastic model for the spread of an infectious disease transmitted between clients and care workers in the UK domiciliary (home) care setting. Interactions between clients and care workers are modelled using specially generated networks, with network parameters reflecting realistic patterns of care needs and visit allocation. These networks are then used to simulate a susceptible-exposed-infected-recovered/dead (SEIR/D)-type epidemic dynamics with different numbers of infectious and recovery stages. The results indicate that with the same overall capacity provided by care workers, the minimum peak proportion of infection and the smallest overall size of infection are achieved for the highest proportion of overlap between visit allocation, i.e. when care workers have the highest chances of being allocated a visit to the same client they have visited before. An intuitive explanation of this is that while providing the required care coverage, maximising overlap in visit allocation reduces the possibility of an infectious care worker inadvertently spreading the infection to other clients. The model is generic and can be adapted to any directly transmitted infectious disease, such as, more recently, corona virus disease 2019, provided accurate estimates of disease parameters can be obtained from real data.
Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is a debilitating condition, characterised by unexplained and excessive fatigue, muscle pain and sleep disturbances. Health anxiety is common in ME/CFS and accurate measurement is essential in facilitating therapeutic gains. However, there are clinical concerns over the utility of the Short Health Anxiety Inventory (SHAI) in measuring health anxiety in this population. This study aims to use qualitative responses from two ex-service users and specialist health clinicians to explore the barriers to completing the SHAI within a specialist ME/CFS service. Qualitative responses from a focus group consisting of 15 specialist health professionals including occupational therapists, physiotherapists, dieticians, cognitive behavioural therapists, counsellors, clinical psychologists and assistant psychologists were transcribed and analysed for themes. Patient voices were represented by two former service users through individual semi-structured interviews on the telephone, which were recorded, transcribed and later analysed thematically. Clinicians and service user involvement agreed on core difficulties with the utility of the SHAI in the ME/CFS population. The timing of the SHAI being administered pre-diagnosis, the language of the SHAI and lack of context around the questionnaire were identified as barriers that were likely to contribute to the SHAI not being completed by service users. Sensitive and accurate measurement is required in order to retain patient engagement, which could further facilitate appropriate assessment and treatment of health anxiety and ME/CFS. Findings suggest that adaption of the SHAI is vital for use with ME/CFS.
Key learning aims
(1) To understand the different barriers to completing the SHAI in a ME/CFS service.
(2) To understand the implications of administering the SHAI to ME/CFS service users.
(3) To learn from multi-disciplinary ME/CFS health professionals about perceived difficulties in administering the SHAI.
Group cognitive behavioural therapy (gCBT) is commonly used in Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services. However, there is limited knowledge of the efficacy of gCBT as a delivery format for generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). To address gaps in literature, this study aims to explore the efficacy and attrition of individual and group CBT interventions, respectively, at Step 3 for GAD using data from a routine IAPT service over a 24-month period. Data were retrospectively derived from a routine serviceʼs IAPTus database, separating those eligible for comparison into group (n = 44) and individual (n = 55) CBT for GAD. Outcomes were differences in pre–post self-reported anxiety (GAD-7) and depression (PHQ-9) scores, clinical recovery and attrition for gCBT and individual CBT. Both gCBT and individual CBT yielded significant reductions in self-reported anxiety and depression scores over time. Results indicate that 53% of patients attending individual CBT achieved clinical recovery, with similar but less competitive rates of 41% in gCBT. Attrition rates were similar between gCBT (29.5%) and individual CBT (27.3%), respectively. Preliminary results suggest that both individual and gCBT are effective interventions for GAD patients in IAPT, offering symptom alleviation and comparable recovery and attrition rates post-intervention. This observational design offers credibility and insight into a pragmatic evaluative and explorative comparison. gCBT may offer an acceptable and potentially economical alternative.
Key learning aims
(1) To explore whether gCBT and individual CBT yield significant symptom reduction in self-reported anxiety and depression in GAD patients from a routine IAPT service.
(2) To explore gCBT and individual CBT clinical recovery rates in non-optimum routine conditions.
(3) To explore whether gCBT for GAD produces unacceptable attrition rates and if this differs from attrition rates in individual CBT for GAD in a routine IAPT service.
UK Biobank is a well-characterised cohort of over 500 000 participants including genetics, environmental data and imaging. An online mental health questionnaire was designed for UK Biobank participants to expand its potential.
Describe the development, implementation and results of this questionnaire.
An expert working group designed the questionnaire, using established measures where possible, and consulting a patient group. Operational criteria were agreed for defining likely disorder and risk states, including lifetime depression, mania/hypomania, generalised anxiety disorder, unusual experiences and self-harm, and current post-traumatic stress and hazardous/harmful alcohol use.
A total of 157 366 completed online questionnaires were available by August 2017. Participants were aged 45–82 (53% were ≥65 years) and 57% women. Comparison of self-reported diagnosed mental disorder with a contemporary study shows a similar prevalence, despite respondents being of higher average socioeconomic status. Lifetime depression was a common finding, with 24% (37 434) of participants meeting criteria and current hazardous/harmful alcohol use criteria were met by 21% (32 602), whereas other criteria were met by less than 8% of the participants. There was extensive comorbidity among the syndromes. Mental disorders were associated with a high neuroticism score, adverse life events and long-term illness; addiction and bipolar affective disorder in particular were associated with measures of deprivation.
The UK Biobank questionnaire represents a very large mental health survey in itself, and the results presented here show high face validity, although caution is needed because of selection bias. Built into UK Biobank, these data intersect with other health data to offer unparalleled potential for crosscutting biomedical research involving mental health.
We examined Clostridioides difficile infection (CDI) prevention practices and their relationship with hospital-onset healthcare facility-associated CDI rates (CDI rates) in Veterans Affairs (VA) acute-care facilities.
From January 2017 to February 2017, we conducted an electronic survey of CDI prevention practices and hospital characteristics in the VA. We linked survey data with CDI rate data for the period January 2015 to December 2016. We stratified facilities according to whether their overall CDI rate per 10,000 bed days of care was above or below the national VA mean CDI rate. We examined whether specific CDI prevention practices were associated with an increased risk of a CDI rate above the national VA mean CDI rate.
All 126 facilities responded (100% response rate). Since implementing CDI prevention practices in July 2012, 60 of 123 facilities (49%) reported a decrease in CDI rates; 22 of 123 facilities (18%) reported an increase, and 41 of 123 (33%) reported no change. Facilities reporting an increase in the CDI rate (vs those reporting a decrease) after implementing prevention practices were 2.54 times more likely to have CDI rates that were above the national mean CDI rate. Whether a facility’s CDI rates were above or below the national mean CDI rate was not associated with self-reported cleaning practices, duration of contact precautions, availability of private rooms, or certification of infection preventionists in infection prevention.
We found considerable variation in CDI rates. We were unable to identify which particular CDI prevention practices (i.e., bundle components) were associated with lower CDI rates.
Sodium bismuth titanate (NBT) and its solid solutions with other ABO3 perovskites are of great interest for lead-free ferroelectric and piezoelectric applications. In this article, we provide an introduction to the complex structure of NBT, including atomic displacements and nanoscale defects. We also review poling effects and properties as well as NBT-ABO3 phase equilibria. The interesting relaxor properties, frequency dispersion in dielectric permittivity, and field-induced structural phase transitions of these systems are discussed. Finally, we describe other functional, mechanical, and electrical properties of NBT.
UK Biobank is a well-characterised cohort of over 500 000 participants that offers unique opportunities to investigate multiple diseases and risk factors.
An online mental health questionnaire completed by UK Biobank participants was expected to expand the potential for research into mental disorders.
An expert working group designed the questionnaire, using established measures where possible, and consulting with a patient group regarding acceptability. Case definitions were defined using operational criteria for lifetime depression, mania, anxiety disorder, psychotic-like experiences and self-harm, as well as current post-traumatic stress and alcohol use disorders.
157 366 completed online questionnaires were available by August 2017. Comparison of self-reported diagnosed mental disorder with a contemporary study shows a similar prevalence, despite respondents being of higher average socioeconomic status than the general population across a range of indicators. Thirty-five per cent (55 750) of participants had at least one defined syndrome, of which lifetime depression was the most common at 24% (37 434). There was extensive comorbidity among the syndromes. Mental disorders were associated with high neuroticism score, adverse life events and long-term illness; addiction and bipolar affective disorder in particular were associated with measures of deprivation.
The questionnaire represents a very large mental health survey in itself, and the results presented here show high face validity, although caution is needed owing to selection bias. Built into UK Biobank, these data intersect with other health data to offer unparalleled potential for crosscutting biomedical research involving mental health.
Declaration of interest
G.B. received grants from the National Institute for Health Research during the study; and support from Illumina Ltd. and the European Commission outside the submitted work. B.C. received grants from the Scottish Executive Chief Scientist Office and from The Dr Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation during the study. C.S. received grants from the Medical Research Council and Wellcome Trust during the study, and is the Chief Scientist for UK Biobank. M.H. received grants from the Innovative Medicines Initiative via the RADAR-CNS programme and personal fees as an expert witness outside the submitted work.
Background: Addison's disease (AD) is a rare chronic illness caused by adrenocortical insufficiency. Due to the pivotal role of the regulating hormone cortisol in AD, there is a common symptom overlap between the presentation of anxiety and adrenal crisis. Previous literature has identified the prevalence of anxiety in endocrinological disorders, however there is a paucity of research examining the complex interplay between AD and anxiety. Aims: This paper describes a single case study of a patient with severe health anxiety and co-morbid AD. The aims of the study were to establish if standard cognitive behavioural therapy for health anxiety in AD can lead to a reduction in psychological distress, and whether this approach is an effective intervention for the reduction of Emergency Department admissions. Method: A single case design was used, with pre- and post-measures of health anxiety, general anxiety and depression. Data on Emergency Department admissions prior to and following treatment were used to assess change in this domain. Results: Reliable and clinically significant reductions were seen across all measures, from severe to sub-clinical levels. There was a complete amelioration of Emergency Department admissions in the 12 months following completion of treatment. Conclusions: This preliminary study provides a sound rationale for further research into AD complicated by anxiety. Findings support the clinical utility of the cognitive behavioural therapy model for complex presentations of AD, offering a potential treatment option where anxiety is elevated and interfering with self-management and leading to high levels of health service use.