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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.
HIV-positive individuals are at significantly increased risk of depression. In low- and middle-income countries, depression is frequently under-detected, hampered by a lack of data regarding available screening tools. The 5-item World Health Organization Well-Being Index (WHO-5) is widely used to screen for depression, yet its validity in African adults with HIV has yet to be examined.
In this cross-sectional study, we enrolled HIV-positive adults presenting to an outpatient HIV clinic in Mwanza, Tanzania. Patients were administered the Patient Health Questionnaires (PHQ)-2/9 and WHO-5 questionnaires. The rate of positive screens was calculated. Fisher's exact test and Pearson's correlation coefficients between PHQ-2/9 and WHO-5 scores were calculated.
We enrolled 72 HIV-positive adults: rates of positive depression screen were 62.5%, 77.8%, and 47.2% according to PHQ-2, PHQ-9, and WHO-5, respectively. PHQ and WHO results for depression were significantly associated (Fisher's exact test: PHQ-2 v. WHO-5, p = 0.028; PHQ-9 v. WHO-5, p = 0.002). The level of correlation between PHQ and WHO results for depression was moderate (Pearson's correlation coefficient: PHQ-2 v. WHO-5 −0.3289; PHQ-9 v. WHO-5 −0.4463).Per Mantel–Haenszel analysis, screening results were significantly more concordant among patients in the following strata: men, age >40, Sukuma ethnicity, Christian, unmarried, self-employed, at least primary school education completed, and higher than the median income level.
WHO-5 scores correlated well with those of the PHQ-9, suggesting that the WHO-5 represents a valid screening tool. The concordance of PHQ-9 and WHO-5 results was poorer in marginalized socioeconomic groups. Positive depression screens were exceedingly common among HIV-positive Tanzanian adults according to all three questionnaires.
Childhood obesity is a common concern across global cities and threatens sustainable urban development. Initiatives to improve nutrition and encourage physical exercise are promising but are yet to exert significant influence on prevention. Childhood obesity in London is associated with distinct ethnic and socio-economic patterns. Ethnic inequalities in health-related behaviour endure, underpinned by inequalities in employment, housing, access to welfare services, and discrimination. Addressing these growing concerns requires a clearer understanding of the socio-cultural, environmental and economic contexts of urban living that promote obesity. We explore opportunities for prevention using asset based-approaches to nutritional health and well-being, with a particular focus on adolescents from diverse ethnic backgrounds living in London. We focus on the important role that community engagement and multi-sectoral partnership play in improving the nutritional outcomes of London's children. London's children and adolescents grow up in the rich cultural mix of a global city where local streets are characterised by diversity in ethnicities, languages, religions, foods, and customs, creating complex and fluid identities. Growing up with such everyday diversity we argue can enhance the quality of life for London's children and strengthen their social capital. The Determinants of young Adult Social well-being and Health longitudinal study of about 6500 of London's young people demonstrated the positive impact of cultural diversity. Born to parents from over a hundred countries and exposed to multi-lingual households and religious practices, they demonstrated strong psychological resilience and sense of pride from cultural straddling, despite material disadvantage and discrimination. Supporting the potential contribution of such socio-cultural assets is in keeping with the values of social justice and equitable and sustainable development. Our work signals the importance of community engagement and multisectoral partnerships, involving, for example, schools and faith-based organisations, to improve the nutrition of London's children.
Prenatal adversity shapes child neurodevelopment and risk for later mental health problems. The quality of the early care environment can buffer some of the negative effects of prenatal adversity on child development. Retrospective studies, in adult samples, highlight epigenetic modifications as sentinel markers of the quality of the early care environment; however, comparable data from pediatric cohorts are lacking. Participants were drawn from the Maternal Adversity Vulnerability and Neurodevelopment (MAVAN) study, a longitudinal cohort with measures of infant attachment, infant development, and child mental health. Children provided buccal epithelial samples (mean age = 6.99, SD = 1.33 years, n = 226), which were used for analyses of genome-wide DNA methylation and genetic variation. We used a series of linear models to describe the association between infant attachment and (a) measures of child outcome and (b) DNA methylation across the genome. Paired genetic data was used to determine the genetic contribution to DNA methylation at attachment-associated sites. Infant attachment style was associated with infant cognitive development (Mental Development Index) and behavior (Behavior Rating Scale) assessed with the Bayley Scales of Infant Development at 36 months. Infant attachment style moderated the effects of prenatal adversity on Behavior Rating Scale scores at 36 months. Infant attachment was also significantly associated with a principal component that accounted for 11.9% of the variation in genome-wide DNA methylation. These effects were most apparent when comparing children with a secure versus a disorganized attachment style and most pronounced in females. The availability of paired genetic data revealed that DNA methylation at approximately half of all infant attachment-associated sites was best explained by considering both infant attachment and child genetic variation. This study provides further evidence that infant attachment can buffer some of the negative effects of early adversity on measures of infant behavior. We also highlight the interplay between infant attachment and child genotype in shaping variation in DNA methylation. Such findings provide preliminary evidence for a molecular signature of infant attachment and may help inform attachment-focused early intervention programs.
The mental health outcomes of military personnel deployed on peacekeeping
missions have been relatively neglected in the military mental health
To assess the mental health impacts of peacekeeping deployments.
In total, 1025 Australian peacekeepers were assessed for current and
lifetime psychiatric diagnoses, service history and exposure to
potentially traumatic events (PTEs). A matched Australian community
sample was used as a comparator. Univariate and regression analyses were
conducted to explore predictors of psychiatric diagnosis.
Peacekeepers had significantly higher 12-month prevalence of
post-traumatic stress disorder (16.8%), major depressive episode (7%),
generalised anxiety disorder (4.7%), alcohol misuse (12%), alcohol
dependence (11.3%) and suicidal ideation (10.7%) when compared with the
civilian comparator. The presence of these psychiatric disorders was most
strongly and consistently associated with exposure to PTEs.
Veteran peacekeepers had significant levels of psychiatric morbidity.
Their needs, alongside those of combat veterans, should be recognised
within military mental health initiatives.
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.
Many industrialized nations are currently experiencing a decline in average secondary sex ratio (SSR) resulting in fewer boys being born relative to girls. While many potential factors may explain the decline in the birth of males relative to females, it seems most studies support the idea that male offspring are produced less often when environmental conditions are poor owing to males being more susceptible to loss in harsh environments. This study investigates the maternal factors that are associated with the sex of offspring in a cohort of the Australian population. It found that greater parental perceptions of wealth were significantly associated with an increase in the number of sons produced. These results suggest that male offspring are born at increased numbers to women with higher available resources, which may reflect the fact that male offspring are more vulnerable in poor environments.
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.
We investigated an increase in the incidence of healthcare-associated Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) that occurred following a change from a bleach disinfectant to a peracetic acid–based disinfectant.
To evaluate the efficacy of the peracetic acid–based disinfectant.
Laboratory-based product evaluation.
The commercial peracetic acid–based product is activated on site by mixing a small volume of concentrated hydrogen peroxide and peracetic acid present in a “SmartCap” reservoir with the remaining contents of the container. We measured concentrations of peracetic acid in newly activated and in-use product and determined the stability of nonactivated and activated product. We tested the efficacy of the product against C. difficile spores using the American Society for Testing and Materials standard quantitative carrier disk test method.
Measured concentrations of peracetic acid (50–800 parts per million [ppm]) were significantly lower than the level stated on the product label (1,500 ppm), and similar results were obtained for containers from multiple lot numbers and from another hospital. Product with peracetic acid levels below 600 ppm had significantly reduced activity against C. difficile spores. Peracetic acid concentrations were reduced markedly after storage of either activated or nonactivated product for several weeks. The Environmental Protection Agency confirmed the finding of low disinfectant levels and ordered discontinuation of sale of the product.
Use of a defective peracetic acid–based surface disinfectant may have contributed to an increase in healthcare-associated CDI. Our findings highlight the importance of evaluating the efficacy of liquid disinfectants in healthcare settings.
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.
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.
To determine the clinical diagnoses associated with the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) pneumonia (PNEU) or lower respiratory infection (LRI) surveillance events
Retrospective chart review
A convenience sample of 8 acute-care hospitals in Pennsylvania
All patients hospitalized during 2011–2012
Medical records were reviewed from a random sample of patients reported to the NHSN to have PNEU or LRI, excluding adults with ventilator-associated PNEU. Documented clinical diagnoses corresponding temporally to the PNEU and LRI events were recorded.
We reviewed 250 (30%) of 838 eligible PNEU and LRI events reported to the NHSN; 29 reported events (12%) fulfilled neither PNEU nor LRI case criteria. Differences interpreting radiology reports accounted for most misclassifications. Of 81 PNEU events in adults not on mechanical ventilation, 84% had clinician-diagnosed pneumonia; of these, 25% were attributed to aspiration. Of 43 adult LRI, 88% were in mechanically ventilated patients and 35% had no corresponding clinical diagnosis (infectious or noninfectious) documented at the time of LRI. Of 36 pediatric PNEU events, 72% were ventilator associated, and 70% corresponded to a clinical pneumonia diagnosis. Of 61 pediatric LRI patients, 84% were mechanically ventilated and 21% had no corresponding clinical diagnosis documented.
In adults not on mechanical ventilation and in children, most NHSN-defined PNEU events corresponded with compatible clinical conditions documented in the medical record. In contrast, NHSN LRI events often did not. As a result, substantial modifications to the LRI definitions were implemented in 2015.