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Heightened reactivity to unpredictable threat (U-threat) is a core individual difference factor underlying fear-based psychopathology. Little is known, however, about whether reactivity to U-threat is a stable marker of fear-based psychopathology or if it is malleable to treatment. The aim of the current study was to address this question by examining differences in reactivity to U-threat within patients before and after 12-weeks of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).
Participants included patients with principal fear (n = 22) and distress/misery disorders (n = 29), and a group of healthy controls (n = 21) assessed 12-weeks apart. A well-validated threat-of-shock task was used to probe reactivity to predictable (P-) and U-threat and startle eyeblink magnitude was recorded as an index of defensive responding.
Across both assessments, individuals with fear-based disorders displayed greater startle magnitude to U-threat relative to healthy controls and distress/misery patients (who did not differ). From pre- to post-treatment, startle magnitude during U-threat decreased only within the fear patients who received CBT. Moreover, within fear patients, the magnitude of decline in startle to U-threat correlated with the magnitude of decline in fear symptoms. For the healthy controls, startle to U-threat across the two time points was highly reliable and stable.
Together, these results indicate that startle to U-threat characterizes fear disorder patients and is malleable to treatment with CBT but not SSRIs within fear patients. Startle to U-threat may therefore reflect an objective, psychophysiological indicator of fear disorder status and CBT treatment response.
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.
The cortisol awakening response (CAR) has been shown to predict major depressive episodes (MDEs) over a 1-year period. It is unknown whether this effect: (a) is stable over longer periods of time; (b) is independent of prospective stressful life events; and (c) differentially predicts first onsets or recurrences of MDEs.
A total of 270 older adolescents (mean age 17.06 years at cortisol measurement) from the larger prospective Northwestern-UCLA Youth Emotion Project completed baseline diagnostic and life stress interviews, questionnaires, and a 3-day cortisol sampling protocol measuring the CAR and diurnal rhythm, as well as up to four annual follow-up interviews of diagnoses and life stress.
Non-proportional person-month survival analyses revealed that higher levels of the baseline CAR significantly predict MDEs for 2.5 years following cortisol measurement. However, the strength of prediction of depressive episodes significantly decays over time, with the CAR no longer significantly predicting MDEs after 2.5 years. Elevations in the CAR did not significantly increase vulnerability to prospective major stressful life events. They did, however, predict MDE recurrences more strongly than first onsets.
These results suggest that a high CAR represents a time-limited risk factor for onsets of MDEs, which increases risk for depression independently of future major stressful life events. Possible explanations for the stronger effect of the CAR for predicting MDE recurrences than first onsets are discussed.
Improving the quality of mental health care requires integrating successful research interventions into ‘real-world’ practice settings. Coordinated Anxiety Learning and Management (CALM) is a treatment-delivery model for anxiety disorders encountered in primary care. CALM offers cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), medication, or both; non-expert care managers assisting primary care clinicians with adherence promotion and medication optimization; computer-assisted CBT delivery; and outcome monitoring. This study describes incremental benefits, costs and net benefits of CALM versus usual care (UC).
The CALM randomized, controlled effectiveness trial was conducted in 17 primary care clinics in four US cities from 2006 to 2009. Of 1062 eligible patients, 1004 English- or Spanish-speaking patients aged 18–75 years with panic disorder (PD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder (SAD) and/or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with or without major depression were randomized. Anxiety-free days (AFDs), quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) and expenditures for out-patient visits, emergency room (ER) visits, in-patient stays and psychiatric medications were estimated based on blinded telephone assessments at baseline, 6, 12 and 18 months.
Over 18 months, CALM participants, on average, experienced 57.1 more AFDs [95% confidence interval (CI) 31–83] and $245 additional medical expenses (95% CI $–733 to $1223). The mean incremental net benefit (INB) of CALM versus UC was positive when an AFD was valued ⩾$4. For QALYs based on the Short-Form Health Survey-12 (SF-12) and the EuroQol EQ-5D, the mean INB was positive at ⩾$5000.
Compared with UC, CALM provides significant benefits with modest increases in health-care expenditures.
Anxiety disorders are the most prevalent mental health disorders and are associated with substantial disability and reduced well-being. It is unknown whether the relative impact of different anxiety disorders is due to the anxiety disorder itself or to the co-occurrence with other anxiety disorders. This study compared the functional impact of combinations of anxiety disorders in primary care out-patients.
A total of 1004 patients with panic disorder (PD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder (SAD) or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) provided data on their mental and physical functioning, and disability. Multivariate regressions compared functional levels for patients with different numbers and combinations of disorders.
Of the patients, 42% had one anxiety disorder only, 38% two, 16% three and 3% all four. There were few relative differences in functioning among patients with only one anxiety disorder, although those with SAD were most restricted in their work, social and home activities and those with GAD were the least impaired. Functioning levels tended to deteriorate as co-morbidity increased.
Of the four anxiety disorders examined, GAD appears to be the least disabling, although they all have more in common than in distinction when it comes to functional impairment. A focus on unique effects of specific anxiety disorders is inadequate, as it fails to address the more pervasive impairment associated with multiple anxiety disorders, which is the modal presentation in primary care.
Several theories have posited a common internalizing factor to help account for the relationship between mood and anxiety disorders. These disorders are often co-morbid and strongly covary. Other theories and data suggest that personality traits may account, at least in part, for co-morbidity between depression and anxiety. The present study examined the relationship between neuroticism and an internalizing dimension common to mood and anxiety disorders.
A sample of ethnically diverse adolescents (n=621) completed self-report and peer-report measures of neuroticism. Participants also completed the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV (SCID).
Structural equation modeling showed that a single internalizing factor was common to lifetime diagnosis of mood and anxiety disorders, and this internalizing factor was strongly correlated with neuroticism. Neuroticism had a stronger correlation with an internalizing factor (r=0.98) than with a substance use factor (r=0.29). Therefore, neuroticism showed both convergent and discriminant validity.
These results provide further evidence that neuroticism is a necessary factor in structural theories of mood and anxiety disorders. In this study, the correlation between internalizing psychopathology and neuroticism approached 1.0, suggesting that neuroticism may be the core of internalizing psychopathology. Future studies are needed to examine this possibility in other populations, and to replicate our findings.
In 1988, there were two outbreaks of legionellosis in Bolton Health District. Altogether 37 cases of Legionnaires' disease and 23 cases of non-pneumonic legionellosis were identified. Twenty-five patients with Legionnaires' disease were associated with an engineering plant, 4 with Bolton town centre, and 8 with both the plant and town centre. Twenty-two people with non-pneumonic legionellosis were linked with the engineering plant and one with the plant and the town centre. A case-control study carried out among 37 employees with legionellosis and 109 control subjects at the plant showed that infection was associated with one of the 15 cooling towers on the site. Legionella pneumophila indistinguishable by serological and genetic typing methods was isolated from this cooling tower and from sputum samples from two patients. In the town centre, no one tower was linked with infection and L. pneumophila was not cultured from any of the nine towers identified. Control measures were implemented and to date there have been no further cases of legionellosis associated with Bolton Health District.
This paper was written at the request of the Life Research Committee of the United Kingdom Actuarial Profession's Life Board. It concerns the valuation of U.K. with-profits business, with particular attention to the market-consistent ‘realistic reporting’ basis currently being used in the U.K. by the regulator, the Financial Services Authority (FSA). The paper surveys recent regulatory activity concerning the development and introduction of the new valuation approach, and puts it into the context of a survey of alternative methodologies, both deterministic and stochastic. The particular issues arising when considering prudential solvency are discussed, and various approaches are reviewed and compared with market consistent methods. Numerical examples are given, which demonstrate potential issues (regarding comparability and consistency) with the FSA's proposed approach — in particular the sensitivity of results to model calibration. The authors support the FSA's move to a stochastically-based framework for solvency measurement, but highlight some issues which need to be taken into account.
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