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Despite the frequency that refugees suffer bereavement, there is a dearth of research into the prevalence and predictors of problematic grief reactions in refugees. To address this gap, this study reports a nationally representative population-based study of refugees to determine the prevalence of probable prolonged grief disorder (PGD) and its associated problems.
This study recruited participants from the Building a New Life in Australia (BNLA) prospective cohort study of refugees admitted to Australia between October 2013 and February 2014. The current data were collected in 2015–2016, and comprised 1767 adults, as well as 411 children of the adult respondents. Adult refugees were assessed for trauma history, post-migration difficulties, probable PGD, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and mental illness. Children were administered the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire.
In this cohort, 38.1% of refugees reported bereavement, of whom 15.8% reported probable PGD; this represents 6.0% of the entire cohort. Probable PGD was associated with a greater likelihood of mental illness, probable PTSD, severe mental illness, currently unemployed and reported disability. Children of refugees with probable PGD reported more psychological difficulties than those whose parents did not have probable PGD. Probable PGD was also associated with the history of imprisonment, torture and separation from family. Only 56.3% of refugees with probable PGD had received psychological assistance.
Bereavement and probable PGD appear highly prevalent in refugees, and PGD seems to be associated with disability in the refugees and psychological problems in their children. The low rate of access to mental health assistance for these refugees highlights that there is a need to address this issue in refugee populations.
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.
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.
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.
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.
To examine the lifetime prevalence and risk of psychiatric disorders associated with natural and man-made disaster exposure in Australia.
We utilised data from a nationally representative population survey (N = 8841) which were analysed through univariate and multivariate logistic regression in order to examine the full spectrum of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) affective, anxiety and substance use disorders associated with exposure to natural and man-made disaster.
Man-made disaster exposure was primarily associated with an increased lifetime risk (odds ratio (95% CI)) of alcohol abuse disorder 2.29 (1.56–3.37), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) 2.27 (1.36–3.79), obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) 1.95 (1.08–3.51) and major depressive disorder 1.69 (1.01–2.85). Multiple natural disaster exposure was associated with an increased lifetime risk of panic disorder 2.26 (1.11–4.61). Among the broader disorder spectrum examined, alcohol abuse disorder accounted for the single greatest increase in lifetime disorder prevalence associated with man-made disaster exposure, and the greatest number of natural or man-made disaster exposed individuals who had developed a lifetime psychiatric disorder. Despite the relatively greater disorder risk associated with man-made disaster, natural disaster exposure was associated with more cases of psychiatric disorder, likely due to the frequency with which these events occur in Australia.
Notwithstanding the inability to draw causal inferences from cross-sectional survey data, population-based analyses provide a comprehensive and consistent method to ascertain the population imprint of psychiatric disorder and disaster exposure. Mental health policy and services should be targeting a range of psychiatric disorders in disaster contexts in addition to the usual focus on PTSD and depression, including alcohol abuse, panic disorder and OCD. Despite the relatively greater disorder risk associated with man-made disaster exposure, the national burden of psychiatric disorder in natural disaster contexts is particularly high.
Objectives: Studies suggest that impairments in some of the same domains of cognition occur in different neuropsychiatric conditions, including those known to share genetic liability. Yet, direct, multi-disorder cognitive comparisons are limited, and it remains unclear whether overlapping deficits are due to comorbidity. We aimed to extend the literature by examining cognition across different neuropsychiatric conditions and addressing comorbidity. Methods: Subjects were 486 youth consecutively referred for neuropsychiatric evaluation and enrolled in the Longitudinal Study of Genetic Influences on Cognition. First, we assessed general ability, reaction time variability (RTV), and aspects of executive functions (EFs) in youth with non-comorbid forms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), mood disorders and autism spectrum disorder (ASD), as well as in youth with psychosis. Second, we determined the impact of comorbid ADHD on cognition in youth with ASD and mood disorders. Results: For EFs (working memory, inhibition, and shifting/ flexibility), we observed weaknesses in all diagnostic groups when participants’ own ability was the referent. Decrements were subtle in relation to published normative data. For RTV, weaknesses emerged in youth with ADHD and mood disorders, but trend-level results could not rule out decrements in other conditions. Comorbidity with ADHD did not impact the pattern of weaknesses for youth with ASD or mood disorders but increased the magnitude of the decrement in those with mood disorders. Conclusions: Youth with ADHD, mood disorders, ASD, and psychosis show EF weaknesses that are not due to comorbidity. Whether such cognitive difficulties reflect genetic liability shared among these conditions requires further study. (JINS, 2018, 24, 91–103)
Prolonged separation from parental support is a risk factor for psychopathology. This study assessed the impact of brief separation from parents during childhood trauma on adult attachment tendencies and post-traumatic stress.
Children (n = 806) exposed to a major Australian bushfire disaster in 1983 and matched controls (n = 725) were assessed in the aftermath of the fires (mean age 7–8 years) via parent reports of trauma exposure and separation from parents during the fires. Participants (n = 500) were subsequently assessed 28 years after initial assessment on the Experiences in Close Relationships scale to assess attachment security, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was assessed using the PTSD checklist.
Being separated from parents was significantly related to having an avoidant attachment style as an adult (B = −3.69, s.e. = 1.48, β = −0.23, p = 0.013). Avoidant attachment was associated with re-experiencing (B = 0.03, s.e. = 0.01, β = 0.31, p = 0.045), avoidance (B = 0.03, s.e. = 0.01, β = 0.30, p = 0.001) and numbing (B = 0.03, s.e. = 0.01, β = 0.30, p < 0.001) symptoms. Anxious attachment was associated with re-experiencing (B = 0.03, s.e. = 0.01, β = 0.18, p = 0.001), numbing (B = 0.03, β = 0.30, s.e. = 0.01, p < 0.001) and arousal (B = 0.04, s.e. = 0.01, β = 0.43, p < 0.001) symptoms.
These findings demonstrate that brief separation from attachments during childhood trauma can have long-lasting effects on one's attachment security, and that this can be associated with adult post-traumatic psychopathology.
Although perceived social support is thought to be a strong predictor of psychological outcomes following trauma exposure, the temporal relationship between perceived positive and negative social support and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms has not been empirically established. This study investigated the temporal sequencing of perceived positive social support, perceived negative social support, and PTSD symptoms in the 6 years following trauma exposure among survivors of traumatic injury.
Participants were 1132 trauma survivors initially assessed upon admission to one of four Level 1 trauma hospitals in Australia after experiencing a traumatic injury. Participants were followed up at 3 months, 12 months, 24 months, and 6 years after the traumatic event.
Latent difference score analyses revealed that greater severity of PTSD symptoms predicted subsequent increases in perceived negative social support at each time-point. Greater severity of PTSD symptoms predicted subsequent decreases in perceived positive social support between 3 and 12 months. High levels of perceived positive or negative social support did not predict subsequent changes in PTSD symptoms at any time-point.
Results highlight the impact of PTSD symptoms on subsequent perceived social support, regardless of the type of support provided. The finding that perceived social support does not influence subsequent PTSD symptoms is novel, and indicates that the relationship between PTSD and perceived social support may be unidirectional.
Global mental health (GMH) is a growing domain with an increasing capacity to positively impact the world community's efforts for sustainable development and wellbeing. Sharing and synthesizing GMH and multi-sectoral knowledge, the focus of this paper, is an important way to support these global efforts. This paper consolidates some of the most recent and relevant ‘context resources’ [global multi-sector (GMS) materials, emphasizing world reports on major issues] and ‘core resources’ (GMH materials, including newsletters, texts, conferences, training, etc.). In addition to offering a guided index of materials, it presents an orientation framework (global integration) to help make important information as accessible and useful as possible. Mental health colleagues are encouraged to stay current in GMH and global issues, to engage in the emerging agendas for sustainable development and wellbeing, and to intentionally connect and contribute across sectors. Colleagues in all sectors are encouraged to do likewise, and to take advantage of the wealth of shared and synthesized knowledge in the GMH domain, such as the materials featured in this paper.
Over the past decades, Indigenous communities around the world have become more vocal and mobilized to address the health inequities they experience. Many Indigenous communities we work with in Canada, Australia, Latin America, the USA, New Zealand and to a lesser extent Scandinavia have developed their own culturally-informed services, focusing on the needs of their own community members. This paper discusses Indigenous healthcare innovations from an international perspective, and showcases Indigenous health system innovations that emerged in Canada (the First Nation Health Authority) and Colombia (Anas Wayúu). These case studies serve as examples of Indigenous-led innovations that might serve as models to other communities. The analysis we present suggests that when opportunities arise, Indigenous communities can and will mobilize to develop Indigenous-led primary healthcare services that are well managed and effective at addressing health inequities. Sustainable funding and supportive policy frameworks that are harmonized across international, national and local levels are required for these organizations to achieve their full potential. In conclusion, this paper demonstrates the value of supporting Indigenous health system innovations.
Burnt mounds, or fulachtaí fiadh as they are known in Ireland, are probably the most common prehistoric site type in Ireland and Britain. Typically Middle–Late Bronze Age in age (although both earlier and later examples are known), they are artefact-poor and rarely associated with settlements. The function of these sites has been much debated with the most commonly cited uses being for cooking, as steam baths or saunas, for brewing, tanning, or textile processing. A number of major infrastructural development schemes in Ireland in the years 2002–2007 revealed remarkable numbers of these mounds often associated with wood-lined troughs, many of which were extremely well-preserved. This afforded an opportunity to investigate them as landscape features using environmental techniques – specifically plant macrofossils and charcoal, pollen, beetles, and multi-element analyses. This paper summarises the results from eight sites from Ireland and compares them with burnt mound sites in Great Britain. The fulachtaí fiadh which are generally in clusters, are all groundwater-fed by springs, along floodplains and at the bases of slopes. The sites are associated with the clearance of wet woodland for fuel; most had evidence of nearby agriculture and all revealed low levels of grazing. Multi-element analysis at two sites revealed elevated heavy metal concentrations suggesting that off-site soil, ash or urine had been used in the trough. Overall the evidence suggests that the most likely function for these sites is textile production involving both cleaning and/or dyeing of wool and/or natural plant fibres and as a functionally related activity to hide cleaning and tanning. Whilst further research is clearly needed to confirm if fulachtaí fiadh are part of the ‘textile revolution’ we should also recognise their important role in the rapid deforestation of the wetter parts of primary woodland and the expansion of agriculture into marginal areas during the Irish and British Bronze Ages.
Maternal prenatal stress during pregnancy is associated with fetal growth restriction and adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes, which may be mediated by impaired placental function. Imprinted genes control fetal growth, placental development, adult behaviour (including maternal behaviour) and placental lactogen production. This study examined whether maternal prenatal depression was associated with aberrant placental expression of the imprinted genes paternally expressed gene 3 (PEG3), paternally expressed gene 10 (PEG10), pleckstrin homology-like domain family a member 2 (PHLDA2) and cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor 1C (CDKN1C), and resulting impaired placental human placental lactogen (hPL) expression.
A diagnosis of depression during pregnancy was recorded from Manchester cohort participants’ medical notes (n = 75). Queen Charlotte's (n = 40) and My Baby and Me study (MBAM) (n = 81) cohort participants completed the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale self-rating psychometric questionnaire. Villous trophoblast tissue samples were analysed for gene expression.
In a pilot study, diagnosed depression during pregnancy was associated with a significant reduction in placental PEG3 expression (41%, p = 0.02). In two further independent cohorts, the Queen Charlotte's and MBAM cohorts, placental PEG3 expression was also inversely associated with maternal depression scores, an association that was significant in male but not female placentas. Finally, hPL expression was significantly decreased in women with clinically diagnosed depression (44%, p < 0.05) and in those with high depression scores (31% and 21%, respectively).
This study provides the first evidence that maternal prenatal depression is associated with changes in the placental expression of PEG3, co-incident with decreased expression of hPL. This aberrant placental gene expression could provide a possible mechanistic explanation for the co-occurrence of maternal depression, fetal growth restriction, impaired maternal behaviour and poorer offspring outcomes.
Anxiety and depression are common following traumatic brain injury (TBI), often co-occurring. This study evaluated the efficacy of a 9-week cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) program in reducing anxiety and depression and whether a three-session motivational interviewing (MI) preparatory intervention increased treatment response.
A randomized parallel three-group design was employed. Following diagnosis of anxiety and/or depression using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV, 75 participants with mild-severe TBI (mean age 42.2 years, mean post-traumatic amnesia 22 days) were randomly assigned to an Adapted CBT group: (1) MI + CBT (n = 26), or (2) non-directive counseling (NDC) + CBT (n = 26); or a (3) waitlist control (WC, n = 23) group. Groups did not differ in baseline demographics, injury severity, anxiety or depression. MI and CBT interventions were guided by manuals adapted for individuals with TBI. Three CBT booster sessions were provided at week 21 to intervention groups.
Using intention-to-treat analyses, random-effects regressions controlling for baseline scores revealed that Adapted CBT groups (MI + CBT and NDC + CBT) showed significantly greater reduction in anxiety on the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale [95% confidence interval (CI) −2.07 to −0.06] and depression on the Depression Anxiety and Stress Scale (95% CI −5.61 to −0.12) (primary outcomes), and greater gains in psychosocial functioning on Sydney Psychosocial Reintegration Scale (95% CI 0.04–3.69) (secondary outcome) over 30 weeks post-baseline relative to WC. The group receiving MI + CBT did not show greater gains than the group receiving NDC + CBT.
Findings suggest that modified CBT with booster sessions over extended periods may alleviate anxiety and depression following TBI.
Approximately 153 million children worldwide are orphaned and vulnerable to potentially traumatic events (PTEs). Gender differences in PTEs in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) are not well-understood, although support services and prevention programs often primarily involve girls.
The Positive Outcomes for Orphans study used a two-stage, cluster-randomized sampling design to identify 2837 orphaned and separated children (OSC) in five LMIC in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. We examined self-reported prevalence and incidence of several PTE types, including physical and sexual abuse, among 2235 children who were ≥10 years at baseline or follow-up, with a focus on gender comparisons.
Lifetime prevalence by age 13 of any PTE other than loss of a parent was similar in both boys [91.7% (95% confidence interval (CI) (85.0–95.5)] and girls [90.3% CI (84.2–94.1)] in institutional-based care, and boys [92.0% (CI 89.0–94.2)] and girls [92.9% CI (89.8–95.1)] in family-based care; annual incidence was similarly comparable between institution dwelling boys [23.6% CI (19.1,−29.3)] and girls [23.6% CI (18.6,−30.0)], as well as between family-dwelling boys [30.7% CI (28.0,−33.6)] and girls [29.3% CI (26.8,−32.0)]. Physical and sexual abuse had the highest overall annual incidence of any trauma type for institution-based OSC [12.9% CI (9.6–17.4)] and family-based OSC [19.4% CI (14.5–26.1)], although estimates in each setting were no different between genders.
Prevalence and annual incidence of PTEs were high among OSC in general, but gender-specific estimates were comparable. Although support services and prevention programs are essential for female OSC, programs for male OSC are equally important.
Three silicon-doped 3 µm thick GaN epilayers were grown simultaneously by metalorganic chemical vapour deposition on (0001) sapphire substrates misorientated by 0°, 4° and 10° toward the m-plane (100). A comparative study of these epilayers was undertaken using photoluminescence (PL) spectroscopy, atomic force microscopy (AFM), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), cathodoluminescence (CL) imaging, CL spectroscopy and Hall effect measurements. Low temperature PL of the 0° and 4° epilayers shows donor bound exciton (BE) emission between 3.47 and 3.48 eV and a low level of yellow band emission. The peak intensities of both emission bands are a factor of 2 higher for the 4° layer. In the 10° epilayer, the BE band is 3x stronger than in the 0° epilayer but there is no discernible yellow band. However, a number of additional bands appear at 3.459, 3.417, 3.362, 3.345, 3.309, and 3.285 eV. These bands, some of which are acceptor related, may be attributed to the presence of structural defects in this epilayer, pointing to an abrupt degradation of its structural quality compared to the others. This degradation is confirmed by AFM studies. On a 20 µm x 20 µm image the 0° and 4° epilayers exhibit smooth surface morphologies, while the 10° epilayer shows a high density of hexagonal pits. Finally, SEM images reveal the surface of the 10° epilayer to be “streaked” and pitted. Low temperature CL images at 3.48 eV (bound exciton region) show random spotty emission, while those at 3.28 eV and 3.41 eV exhibit a streaky appearance similar to the SEM image. This suggests that these luminescence bands are indeed associated with structural defects.
In this paper we illustrate the application of electron beam techniques to the measurement of strain, defect and alloy concentrations in nitride thin films. We present brief comparative studies of CL spectra of AlGaN and InGaN epilayers and EBSD patterns obtained from two silicon-doped 3 μm thick GaN epilayers grown on an on-axis (0001) sapphire substrate and a sapphire substrate misoriented by 10° toward the m-plane (10 0).
Rutherford backscattering and channeling spectrometry (RBS), photoluminescence (PL) spectroscopy and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) have been used to investigate macroscopic and microscopic segregation in MOCVD grown InGaN layers. The PL peak energy and In content (measured by RBS) were mapped at a large number of distinct points on the samples. An indium concentration of 40%, the highest measured in this work, corresponds to a PL peak of 710 nm, strongly suggesting that the light-emitting regions of the sample are very indium-rich compared to the average measured by RBS. Cross-sectional TEM observations show distinctive layering of the InGaN films. The TEM study further reveals that these layers consist of amorphous pyramidal contrast features with sizes of order 10 nm. The composition of these specific contrast features is shown to be In-rich compared to the nitride matrix.
In this paper we examine a series of four GaN epilayers grown by MOVPE on sapphire substrates with different AlN buffer layer thicknesses. We examine the effect of the buffer layer thickness on the physical and optical properties of the samples via optical microscopy, cathodoluminescence imaging and photoluminescence and cathodoluminescence spectroscopy. While the morphological and optical properties of all the films (excepting that with the thinnest buffer layer of 30 nm) are good, i.e., the films are smooth and the luminescence is dominated by excitonic luminescence, a number of circular island like features are observed in all the films whose density decrease with increasing buffer layer thickness. A large circular island present on the sample with the thinnest buffer layer and surrounded by cracks in the directions, displays some interesting acceptor related luminescence.