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Psychiatric treatments have specific and non-specific components. The latter has been addressed in an extensive literature on the placebo-effect in pharmacology and on common factors in psychotherapy. In the practice of mental health care, pharmacological, psychotherapeutic and social treatments are combined in complex interventions. This paper aims to review non-specific components across diverse psychiatric treatments and consider implications for practice and research.
We conducted a non-systematic review of non-specific components across psychiatric treatments, their impact on treatment processes and outcomes, and interventions to improve them.
The identified research is heterogeneous, both in design and quality. All non-specific components capture aspects of how clinicians communicate with patients. They are grouped into general verbal communication – focusing on initial contacts, empathy, clarity of communication, and detecting cues about unspoken concerns – non-verbal communication, the framing of treatments and decision-making. The evidence is stronger for the impact of these components on process measures – i.e. therapeutic relationship, treatment satisfaction and adherence than on clinical outcomes – i.e. symptoms and relapse. A small number of trials suggest that brief training courses and simple methods for structuring parts of clinical consultations can improve communication and subsequently clinical outcomes.
Methodologically, rigorous research advancing current understandings of non-specific components may increase effectiveness across different treatments, potentially benefitting large numbers of patients. Brief training for clinicians and structuring clinical communication should be used more widely in practice.
The cognitive process of worry, which keeps negative thoughts in mind and elaborates the content, contributes to the occurrence of many mental health disorders. Our principal aim was to develop a straightforward measure of general problematic worry suitable for research and clinical treatment. Our secondary aim was to develop a measure of problematic worry specifically concerning paranoid fears.
An item pool concerning worry in the past month was evaluated in 250 non-clinical individuals and 50 patients with psychosis in a worry treatment trial. Exploratory factor analysis and item response theory (IRT) informed the selection of scale items. IRT analyses were repeated with the scales administered to 273 non-clinical individuals, 79 patients with psychosis and 93 patients with social anxiety disorder. Other clinical measures were administered to assess concurrent validity. Test-retest reliability was assessed with 75 participants. Sensitivity to change was assessed with 43 patients with psychosis.
A 10-item general worry scale (Dunn Worry Questionnaire; DWQ) and a five-item paranoia worry scale (Paranoia Worries Questionnaire; PWQ) were developed. All items were highly discriminative (DWQ a = 1.98–5.03; PWQ a = 4.10–10.7), indicating small increases in latent worry lead to a high probability of item endorsement. The DWQ was highly informative across a wide range of the worry distribution, whilst the PWQ had greatest precision at clinical levels of paranoia worry. The scales demonstrated excellent internal reliability, test-retest reliability, concurrent validity and sensitivity to change.
The new measures of general problematic worry and worry about paranoid fears have excellent psychometric properties.
Natural living conductive biofilms transport electrons between electrodes and cells, as well as among cells fixed within the film, catalyzing an array of reactions from acetate oxidation to CO2 reduction. Synthetic biology offers tools to modify or improve electron transport through biofilms, creating a new class of engineered living conductive materials. Engineered living conductive materials could be used in a range of applications for which traditional conducting polymers are not appropriate, including improved catalytic coatings for microbial fuel-cell electrodes, self-powered sensors for austere environments, and next-generation living components of bioelectronic devices that interact with the human microbiome.
In the past few years, there has been an unprecedented increase in the number of forcibly displaced migrants worldwide, of which a substantial proportion is refugees and asylum seekers. Refugees and asylum seekers may experience high levels of psychological distress, and show high rates of mental health conditions. It is therefore timely and particularly relevant to assess whether current evidence supports the provision of psychosocial interventions for this population. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) assessing the efficacy and acceptability of psychosocial interventions compared with control conditions (treatment as usual/no treatment, waiting list, psychological placebo) aimed at reducing mental health problems in distressed refugees and asylum seekers.
We used Cochrane procedures for conducting a systematic review and meta-analysis of RCTs. We searched for published and unpublished RCTs assessing the efficacy and acceptability of psychosocial interventions in adults and children asylum seekers and refugees with psychological distress. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depressive and anxiety symptoms at post-intervention were the primary outcomes. Secondary outcomes include: PTSD, depressive and anxiety symptoms at follow-up, functioning, quality of life and dropouts due to any reason.
We included 26 studies with 1959 participants. Meta-analysis of RCTs revealed that psychosocial interventions have a clinically significant beneficial effect on PTSD (standardised mean difference [SMD] = −0.71; 95% confidence interval [CI] −1.01 to −0.41; I2 = 83%; 95% CI 78–88; 20 studies, 1370 participants; moderate quality evidence), depression (SMD = −1.02; 95% CI −1.52 to −0.51; I2 = 89%; 95% CI 82–93; 12 studies, 844 participants; moderate quality evidence) and anxiety outcomes (SMD = −1.05; 95% CI −1.55 to −0.56; I2 = 87%; 95% CI 79–92; 11 studies, 815 participants; moderate quality evidence). This beneficial effect was maintained at 1 month or longer follow-up, which is extremely important for populations exposed to ongoing post-migration stressors. For the other secondary outcomes, we identified a non-significant trend in favour of psychosocial interventions. Most evidence supported interventions based on cognitive behavioural therapies with a trauma-focused component. Limitations of this review include the limited number of studies collected, with a relatively low total number of participants, and the limited available data for positive outcomes like functioning and quality of life.
Considering the epidemiological relevance of psychological distress and mental health conditions in refugees and asylum seekers, and in view of the existing data on the effectiveness of psychosocial interventions, these interventions should be routinely made available as part of the health care of distressed refugees and asylum seekers. Evidence-based guidelines and implementation packages should be developed accordingly.
A core question in the debate about how to organise mental healthcare is whether in- and out-patient treatment should be provided by the same (personal continuity) or different psychiatrists (specialisation). The controversial debate drives costly organisational changes in several European countries, which have gone in opposing directions. The existing evidence is based on small and low-quality studies which tend to favour whatever the new experimental organisation is.
We compared 1-year clinical outcomes of personal continuity and specialisation in routine care in a large scale study across five European countries.
This is a 1-year prospective natural experiment conducted in Belgium, England, Germany, Italy and Poland. In all these countries, both personal continuity and specialisation exist in routine care. Eligible patients were admitted for psychiatric in-patient treatment (18 years of age), and clinically diagnosed with a psychotic, mood or anxiety/somatisation disorder.
Outcomes were assessed 1 year after the index admission. The primary outcome was re-hospitalisation and analysed for the full sample and subgroups defined by country, and different socio-demographic and clinical criteria. Secondary outcomes were total number of inpatient days, involuntary re-admissions, adverse events and patients’ social situation. Outcomes were compared through mixed regression models in intention-to-treat analyses. The study is registered (ISRCTN40256812).
We consecutively recruited 7302 patients; 6369 (87.2%) were followed-up. No statistically significant differences were found in re-hospitalisation, neither overall (adjusted percentages: 38.9% in personal continuity, 37.1% in specialisation; odds ratio = 1.08; confidence interval 0.94–1.25; p = 0.28) nor for any of the considered subgroups. There were no significant differences in any of the secondary outcomes.
Whether the same or different psychiatrists provide in- and out-patient treatment appears to have no substantial impact on patient outcomes over a 1-year period. Initiatives to improve long-term outcomes of psychiatric patients may focus on aspects other than the organisation of personal continuity v. specialisation.
Children with CHD and acquired heart disease have unique, high-risk physiology. They may have a higher risk of adverse tracheal-intubation-associated events, as compared with children with non-cardiac disease.
Materials and methods
We sought to evaluate the occurrence of adverse tracheal-intubation-associated events in children with cardiac disease compared to children with non-cardiac disease. A retrospective analysis of tracheal intubations from 38 international paediatric ICUs was performed using the National Emergency Airway Registry for Children (NEAR4KIDS) quality improvement registry. The primary outcome was the occurrence of any tracheal-intubation-associated event. Secondary outcomes included the occurrence of severe tracheal-intubation-associated events, multiple intubation attempts, and oxygen desaturation.
A total of 8851 intubations were reported between July, 2012 and March, 2016. Cardiac patients were younger, more likely to have haemodynamic instability, and less likely to have respiratory failure as an indication. The overall frequency of tracheal-intubation-associated events was not different (cardiac: 17% versus non-cardiac: 16%, p=0.13), nor was the rate of severe tracheal-intubation-associated events (cardiac: 7% versus non-cardiac: 6%, p=0.11). Tracheal-intubation-associated cardiac arrest occurred more often in cardiac patients (2.80 versus 1.28%; p<0.001), even after adjusting for patient and provider differences (adjusted odds ratio 1.79; p=0.03). Multiple intubation attempts occurred less often in cardiac patients (p=0.04), and oxygen desaturations occurred more often, even after excluding patients with cyanotic heart disease.
The overall incidence of adverse tracheal-intubation-associated events in cardiac patients was not different from that in non-cardiac patients. However, the presence of a cardiac diagnosis was associated with a higher occurrence of both tracheal-intubation-associated cardiac arrest and oxygen desaturation.
Stable isotopes of water (δ18O and δ2H) were measured in the debris-laden ice underlying an Antarctic blue ice moraine, and in adjoining Law Glacier in the central Transantarctic Mountains. Air bubble content and morphology were assessed in shallow ice core samples. Stable isotope measurements plot either on the meteoric waterline or are enriched from it. The data cluster in two groups: the ice underlying the moraine has a δ2H:δ18O slope of 5.35 ± 0.92; ice from adjoining portions of Law Glacier has a slope of 6.69 ± 1.39. This enrichment pattern suggests the moraine's underlying blue ice entrained sediment through refreezing processes acting in an open system. Glaciological conditions favorable to warm-based sediment entrainment occur 30–50 km upstream. Basal melting and refreezing are further evidenced by abundant vapor figures formed from internal melting of the ice crystals. Both the moraine ice and Law Glacier are sufficiently depleted of heavy isotopes that their ice cannot be sourced locally, but instead must be derived from far-field interior regions of the higher polar plateau. Modeled ice flow speeds suggest the ice must be at least 80 ka old, with Law Glacier's ice possibly dating to OIS 5 and moraine ice older still.
Reliable and affordable technology for collecting and managing livestock production process information is being developed. The advances in data measurement, collection and transfer technology enable us to retrieve information from one or more remote sites to be processed and managed centrally. This opens up the opportunity to advance from open loop, prescriptive production to closed loop systems where factors influencing the actual performance of animals are used to modify and improve their production parameters (feed, environment, medication). We strive from producing animals by predicting what is needed using outdated data, to measuring what is actually happening as they grow, processing this information and acting to optimise animal performance by modifying production parameters in real time.
This paper describes commercially available systems that make possible the retrieval, collection, processing and distribution of near real time production information. Various aspects of production management using this technology are discussed, and examples of how it can be applied to monitor water usage, how it relates to pig performance and how energy usage can be influenced, are considered.
Debate exists as to whether functional care, in which different psychiatrists are responsible for in- and out-patient care, leads to better in-patient treatment as compared with sectorised care, in which the same psychiatrist is responsible for care across settings.
To compare patient satisfaction with in-patient treatment and length of stay in functional and sectorised care.
Patients with an ICD-10 diagnosis of psychotic, affective or anxiety/somatoform disorders consecutively admitted to an adult acute psychiatric ward in 23 hospitals across 11 National Health Service trusts in England were recruited. Patient satisfaction with in-patient care and length of stay (LoS) were compared (trial registration ISRCTN40256812).
In total, 2709 patients were included, of which 1612 received functional and 1097 sectorised care. Patient satisfaction was significantly higher in sectorised care (β = 0.54, 95% CI 0.35–0.73, P<0.001). This difference remained significant when adjusting for locality and patient characteristics. LoS was 6.9 days shorter for patients in sectorised care (β = −6.89, 95% CI –11.76 to −2.02, P<0.001), but this difference did not remain significant when adjusting for clustering by hospital (β = −4.89, 95% CI –13.34 to 3.56, P = 0.26).
This is the first robust evidence that patient satisfaction with in-patient treatment is higher in sectorised care, whereas findings for LoS are less conclusive. If patient satisfaction is seen as a key criterion, sectorised care seems preferable.