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The Academic Development Study of Australian Twins was established in 2012 with the purpose of investigating the relative influence of genes and environments in literacy and numeracy capabilities across two primary and two secondary school grades in Australia. It is the first longitudinal twin project of its kind in Australia and comprises a sample of 2762 twin pairs, 40 triplet sets and 1485 nontwin siblings. Measures include standardized literacy and numeracy test data collected at Grades 3, 5, 7 and 9 as part of the National Assessment Program: Literacy and Numeracy. A range of demographic and behavioral data was also collected, some at multiple longitudinal time points. This article outlines the background and rationale for the study and provides an overview for the research design, sample and measures collected. Findings emerging from the project and future directions are discussed.
First episode psychosis (FEP) studies show that average time between onset of symptoms and first effective treatment is often one year or more1. This long duration of untreated psychosis (DUP) is undesirable for various reasons:
• Early treatment helps minimise the risk of serious consequences 2,3
• Shorter DUP is associated with better clinical response.4
• Early results suggest that early intervention in psychosis (EIP) service is more cost effective than generic services.5
The attitude to treatment of ‘Psychosis’ has recently changed from focusing on severe and enduring mental illness to include early intervention.10 New terms appeared including duration of untreated psychosis (DUP) from onset of positive psychotic symptoms until starting treatment and duration of untreated illness (DUI) from onset of prodrome until starting treatment.11
To access the local Primary Care experience of FEP before developing the local EIP service.
A confidential questionnaire consisted of 8 questions sent by the Clinical Governance Support Team (CGST) to all Northamptonshire GPs requesting response within 3 weeks.
Response rate is 43% (123 GPs responded out of 284). GPs are less likely to start treatment of FEP. FEP are less likely to ask for a psychiatric referral but more likely to accept if offered by GP. 53% of GPs tend to refer all FEP cases to psychiatric service & 43% only refer those who request/accept referral. 74% of GPs agreed that EIP service was needed, 21% were unsure The likely causes of delayed referral of FEP by GPs: Patients disengaging, stigma, difficulty accessing psychiatric service, carers’ lack of knowledge and diagnostic uncertainty.
FEP patients are less likely to ask for referral to psychiatric service but likely to accept if offered. The likely causes for FEP delayed referral to psychiatric service: patients disengaging, stigma, carers’ lack of knowledge, service is difficult to access or inappropriate and diagnostic uncertainty. GPs need to be adequately informed about EIP & their important role to achieve this.
Social contact is one of the most effective strategies for improving inter-group relations and is supported by decades of positive evidence. Several studies specifically support social contact interventions as a way of reducing stigma against people with mental health problems. Despite the effectiveness of this approach, some social groups have few opportunities for social contact in the real world.
Using the England Time to Change anti-stigma campaign as an example, we investigate the feasibility and effectiveness of delivering social contact interventions at the mass population level to reduce stigma and discrimination against people with mental health problems.
To investigate: (i) the feasibility of scaling up social contact interventions to reduce stigma and discrimination against people with mental health problems and (ii) the effectiveness of mass population social contact interventions to: improve intended stigmatising behaviour, increase willingness to disclose mental health problems and to promote engagement in antistigma activities.
Two types of mass participation social contact programmes within England's Time to Change campaign were evaluated via self-report questionnaire. Participants at social contact events were asked about the occurrence and quality of contact, attitudes, readiness to discuss mental health, and intended behaviour towards people with mental health problems.
Findings on feasibility and effectiveness of social contact programmes will be presented.
This study suggests that social contact interventions can be used by anti-stigma campaigns to reduce stigma and discrimination against people with mental health problems. Further investigation is needed regarding the maintenance of these changes
On many Australian commercial pig farms, groups of growing pigs are mass-medicated through their drinking water with selected antimicrobials for short periods to manage herd health. However, delivery of medication in drinking water cannot be assumed to deliver an equal dose to all animals in a group. There is substantial between-animal variability in systemic exposure to an antimicrobial (i.e. the antimicrobial concentration in plasma), resulting in under-dosing or over-dosing of many pigs. Three sources of this between-animal variability during a water medication dosing event are differences in: (1) concentration of the active constituent of the antimicrobial product in water available to pigs at drinking appliances in each pen over time, (2) medicated water consumption patterns of pigs in each pen over time, and (3) pharmacokinetics (i.e. oral bioavailability, volume of distribution and clearance between pigs and within pigs over time). It is essential that factors operating on each farm that influence the range of systemic exposures of pigs to an antimicrobial are factored into antimicrobial administration regimens to reduce under-dosing and over-dosing.
An improved understanding of diagnostic and treatment practices for patients with rare primary mitochondrial disorders can support benchmarking against guidelines and establish priorities for evaluative research. We aimed to describe physician care for patients with mitochondrial diseases in Canada, including variation in care.
We conducted a cross-sectional survey of Canadian physicians involved in the diagnosis and/or ongoing care of patients with mitochondrial diseases. We used snowball sampling to identify potentially eligible participants, who were contacted by mail up to five times and invited to complete a questionnaire by mail or internet. The questionnaire addressed: personal experience in providing care for mitochondrial disorders; diagnostic and treatment practices; challenges in accessing tests or treatments; and views regarding research priorities.
We received 58 survey responses (52% response rate). Most respondents (83%) reported spending 20% or less of their clinical practice time caring for patients with mitochondrial disorders. We identified important variation in diagnostic care, although assessments frequently reported as diagnostically helpful (e.g., brain magnetic resonance imaging, MRI/MR spectroscopy) were also recommended in published guidelines. Approximately half (49%) of participants would recommend “mitochondrial cocktails” for all or most patients, but we identified variation in responses regarding specific vitamins and cofactors. A majority of physicians recommended studies on the development of effective therapies as the top research priority.
While Canadian physicians’ views about diagnostic care and disease management are aligned with published recommendations, important variations in care reflect persistent areas of uncertainty and a need for empirical evidence to support and update standard protocols.
The methodological and epistemological challenges that research on ethnopolitical violence faces are examined. This research area is fundamentally important for political reasons and for understanding, as well as subsequent interventions to ameliorate, youths’ responses to ethnopolitical violence. Advances in methods are reviewed that can overcome the obstacles placed by the various challenges. These issues are discussed in the context of the articles that comprise this Special Section.
A few studies have examined the association between vitamin D and telomere length, and fewer still have examined the relationship in black or male populations. We investigated the cross-sectional association between the vitamin D metabolite 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) concentration in plasma and relative leucocyte telomere length (LTL) in 1154 US radiologic technologists who were 48–93 years old (373 white females, 278 white males, 338 black females, 165 black males). Plasma 25(OH)D concentration was measured by the chemiluminescence immunoassay, and relative LTL was measured by quantitative PCR. Logistic regression was used to obtain OR and 95 % CI for long v. short (based on median) LTL in relation to continuous 25(OH)D, quartiles of 25(OH)D and 25(OH)D deficiency. We found no significant association between continuous 25(OH)D and long LTL in all participants (Ptrend=0·440), nor in white females (Ptrend=0·845), white males (Ptrend=0·636), black females (Ptrend=0·967) or black males (Ptrend=0·484). Vitamin D deficiency (defined as 25(OH)D<30 nmol/l), however, was significantly associated with short LTL in whites (P=0·024), but not in other groups. In this population, we found little evidence to support associations between 25(OH)D and long LTL over the entire range of 25(OH)D in the overall study population or by sex and race.
We examine a major source of heterogeneity across cases in the Correlates of War Militarized Interstate Dispute Dataset, 1816–2001, and demonstrate that this variation across cases biases most analyses of conflict. Disputes are coded using two logics—the familiar state-to-state militarized action represents one case while the second relies on sponsor governments to protest state targeting of private citizens. We show that the latter introduces additional measurement bias and does not match well the original conceptualization of what constituted a dispute. The protest-dependent cases are caused by different processes, and omitting them from analyses provides truer estimates of the effects of most conflict predictors. We find that previous controls for heterogeneity in the dispute data—such as using fatal militarized interstate disputes only—substantially underestimates the dangerous effects of contiguity and the pacifying effects of regime similarity. We also show that governments are seldom willing to risk militarized conflict for private citizens during these unique cases. We provide a list of the protest-dependent cases for future conflict analyses.
The Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers (Army STARRS) has found that the proportional elevation in the US Army enlisted soldier suicide rate during deployment (compared with the never-deployed or previously deployed) is significantly higher among women than men, raising the possibility of gender differences in the adverse psychological effects of deployment.
Person-month survival models based on a consolidated administrative database for active duty enlisted Regular Army soldiers in 2004–2009 (n = 975 057) were used to characterize the gender × deployment interaction predicting suicide. Four explanatory hypotheses were explored involving the proportion of females in each soldier's occupation, the proportion of same-gender soldiers in each soldier's unit, whether the soldier reported sexual assault victimization in the previous 12 months, and the soldier's pre-deployment history of treated mental/behavioral disorders.
The suicide rate of currently deployed women (14.0/100 000 person-years) was 3.1–3.5 times the rates of other (i.e. never-deployed/previously deployed) women. The suicide rate of currently deployed men (22.6/100 000 person-years) was 0.9–1.2 times the rates of other men. The adjusted (for time trends, sociodemographics, and Army career variables) female:male odds ratio comparing the suicide rates of currently deployed v. other women v. men was 2.8 (95% confidence interval 1.1–6.8), became 2.4 after excluding soldiers with Direct Combat Arms occupations, and remained elevated (in the range 1.9–2.8) after adjusting for the hypothesized explanatory variables.
These results are valuable in excluding otherwise plausible hypotheses for the elevated suicide rate of deployed women and point to the importance of expanding future research on the psychological challenges of deployment for women.
Societal and technological changes render traditional study designs less feasible for investigation of outbreaks. We compared results obtained from case-case and case-control designs during the investigation of a Salmonella Enteritidis PT14b (SE14b) outbreak in Britain to provide support for validation of this approach. Exposures of cases were compared to concurrent non-Enteritidis Salmonella cases and population controls recruited through systematic digit phone dialling. Infection with SE14b was associated with eating in oriental restaurants [odds ratio (OR) 35·8, 95% confidence interval (CI) 4·4–290·9] and consuming eggs away from home (OR 13·8, 95% CI 1·5–124·5) in the case-case study and was confirmed through a concurrent case-control study with similar effect estimates and microbiological findings of SE14b in eggs from a specific chicken flock on a Spanish farm. We found that the case-case design was feasible, quick and inexpensive, potentially minimized recall bias and made use of already interviewed cases with subtyping results. This approach has potential for use in future investigations.
To develop a psychometrically valid questionnaire for testing knowledge on micronutrients and to assess the relationship between knowledge and biomarkers of micronutrient status among adolescents.
Cross-sectional, institution-based, validity and reliability study.
Seven higher secondary schools were covered in the limits of Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation, Hyderabad, India.
Students aged 15–19 years, n 92 for the pre-test, n 108 for test–retest and n 109 for studying the relationship between knowledge and biomarkers of Fe, retinol, ascorbic acid, α-tocopherol, folic acid and vitamin B12 status.
From an item pool of 106, thirty-one items were selected based on content validity. Statistical tools to obtain a valid and reliable questionnaire among adolescent boys and girls resulted in eighteen items with a difficulty index of 0·11–0·86, discrimination index of 0·20–0·72 and validity index (point bi-serial correlation) of 0·10–0·62. Reliability as measured by Cronbach's α was 0·71 and the intra-class correlation coefficient was 0·80. A Bland–Altman plot showed good agreement between test and retest scores. The mean response score to the eighteen-item questionnaire was 5·2 (sd 2·68). The mean values of serum retinol were significantly different (P = 0·022) between groups below (24·8 (sd 6·64) μg/dl) and above (28·0 (sd 7·67) μg/dl) the 50th percentile of knowledge score. The relationship persisted after controlling for economic status as a covariate using analysis of covariance (P = 0·018). Other micronutrients did not show any significant relationship.
A valid and reliable eighteen-item knowledge questionnaire was constructed and found to have a significant positive relationship with plasma retinol status alone.
The breadth-first search adopted by Bayesian researchers to map out the conceptual space and identify what the framework can do is beneficial for science and reflective of its collaborative and incremental nature. Theoretical pluralism among researchers facilitates refinement of models within various levels of analysis, which ultimately enables effective cross-talk between different levels of analysis.