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Despite a growing understanding of disorders of consciousness following severe brain injury, the association between long-term impairment of consciousness, spontaneous brain oscillations, and underlying subcortical damage, and the ability of such information to aid patient diagnosis, remains incomplete.
Cross-sectional observational sample of 116 patients with a disorder of consciousness secondary to brain injury, collected prospectively at a tertiary center between 2011 and 2013. Multimodal analyses relating clinical measures of impairment, electroencephalographic measures of spontaneous brain activity, and magnetic resonance imaging data of subcortical atrophy were conducted in 2018.
In the final analyzed sample of 61 patients, systematic associations were found between electroencephalographic power spectra and subcortical damage. Specifically, the ratio of beta-to-delta relative power was negatively associated with greater atrophy in regions of the bilateral thalamus and globus pallidus (both left > right) previously shown to be preferentially atrophied in chronic disorders of consciousness. Power spectrum total density was also negatively associated with widespread atrophy in regions of the left globus pallidus, right caudate, and in the brainstem. Furthermore, we showed that the combination of demographics, encephalographic, and imaging data in an analytic framework can be employed to aid behavioral diagnosis.
These results ground, for the first time, electroencephalographic presentation detected with routine clinical techniques in the underlying brain pathology of disorders of consciousness and demonstrate how multimodal combination of clinical, electroencephalographic, and imaging data can be employed in potentially mitigating the high rates of misdiagnosis typical of this patient cohort.
The ‘jumping to conclusions’ (JTC) bias is associated with both psychosis and general cognition but their relationship is unclear. In this study, we set out to clarify the relationship between the JTC bias, IQ, psychosis and polygenic liability to schizophrenia and IQ.
A total of 817 first episode psychosis patients and 1294 population-based controls completed assessments of general intelligence (IQ), and JTC, and provided blood or saliva samples from which we extracted DNA and computed polygenic risk scores for IQ and schizophrenia.
The estimated proportion of the total effect of case/control differences on JTC mediated by IQ was 79%. Schizophrenia polygenic risk score was non-significantly associated with a higher number of beads drawn (B = 0.47, 95% CI −0.21 to 1.16, p = 0.17); whereas IQ PRS (B = 0.51, 95% CI 0.25–0.76, p < 0.001) significantly predicted the number of beads drawn, and was thus associated with reduced JTC bias. The JTC was more strongly associated with the higher level of psychotic-like experiences (PLEs) in controls, including after controlling for IQ (B = −1.7, 95% CI −2.8 to −0.5, p = 0.006), but did not relate to delusions in patients.
Our findings suggest that the JTC reasoning bias in psychosis might not be a specific cognitive deficit but rather a manifestation or consequence, of general cognitive impairment. Whereas, in the general population, the JTC bias is related to PLEs, independent of IQ. The work has the potential to inform interventions targeting cognitive biases in early psychosis.
To identify factors associated with suicide attempts using data from a large, 3-year, multinational follow-up study of schizophrenia (SOHO study).
All baseline characteristics of 8,871 adult patients with schizophrenia collected in patients included in the SOHO study were included in a GEE logistic regression post-hoc analysis comparing patients who attempted suicide during the study with those who did not.
A total of 384 (4.3%) patients attempted or committed suicide. The risk factors that resulted statistically associated with suicide attempt were a lifetime history of suicide attempts (OR 3.6 [95% CI 2.8, 4.6; p< 0.0001]), suicide attempts in the last 6 months (OR 2.5 [95% CI 1.8, 3.4; p< 0.0001]), prolactin-related side effects (OR 2.0 [95%CI 1.4, 2.9; p=0.0002]), CGI depression (OR 1.2 [95% CI 1.1, 1.3; p=0.0004]) and history of hospitalization for schizophrenia (OR 1.4 [95% CI 1.1, 1.8; p=0.009]).
In view of the observational design of the study and the post-hoc nature of the analysis, the identified risk factors should be confirmed by ad-hoc specifically designed studies.
Treatment of schizophrenia with antipsychotic drugs is frequently sub-optimal. One reason for this may be heterogeneity between patients with schizophrenia. The objectives of this study were to identify patient, disease and treatment attributes that are important for physicians in choosing an antipsychotic drug, and to identify empirically subgroups of patients who may respond differentially to antipsychotic drugs. The survey was conducted by structured interview of 744 randomly-selected psychiatrists in four European countries who recruited 3996 patients with schizophrenia. Information on 39 variables was collected. Multiple component analysis was used to identify dimensions that explained the variance between patients. Three axes, accounting for 99% of the variance, were associated with disease severity (64%), socioeconomic status (27%) and patient autonomy (8%). These dimensions discriminated between six discrete patient subgroups, identified using ascending hierarchical classification analysis. The six subgroups differed regarding educational level, illness severity, autonomy, symptom presentation, addictive behaviors, comorbidities and cardiometabolic risk factors. Subgroup 1 patients had moderately severe physician-rated disease and addictive behaviours (23.2%); Subgroup 2 patients were well-integrated and autonomous with mild to moderate disease (6.7%); Subgroup 3 patients were less well-integrated with mild to moderate disease, living alone (11.2%); Subgroup 4 patients were women with low education levels (5.4%), Subgroup 5 patients were young men with severe disease (36.8%); and Subgroup 6 patients were poorly-integrated with moderately severe disease, needing caregiver support (16.7%). The presence of these subgroups, which require confirmation and extension regarding potentially identifiable biological markers, may help individualizing treatment in patients with schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia is a frequent psychiatric disorder whose prevalence appears to be relatively stable across different patient groups. However, attitudes to care and resources devoted to mental health care may differ between countries. The objective of this analysis was to compare sociodemographic and psychopathological features of patients, antipsychotic treatment and frequency of hospitalisation between four European countries (Germany, Greece, Italy and Spain) collected as part of a large survey of the characteristics of patients with schizophrenia. The survey was conducted by structured interview of 744 randomly-selected psychiatrists in four European countries who recruited 3996 patients. Information on 39 variables was collected. A number of between-country differences were observed which tended to distinguish Germany on the one hand, from the Mediterranean countries, and Greece in particular, on the other. While demographic features and clinical features were essentially similar, more patients in Germany were considered to have severe disease by their psychiatrist (59.0% versus 35.9% in Greece) and to be hospitalised (49.3% versus 15.0%). 46.7% of German patients were living alone compared to less than 20% in the Mediterranean countries and 50.2% were living with their family (versus over70% elsewhere). Smoking and addictive behaviours were more frequently reported for patients in Spain. With regard to empirically derived patient subgroups, Subgroup 2, corresponding to well-integrated and autonomous patients with mild to moderate disease severity was most highly represented in Greece (23.6% of patients compared to less than 10% elsewhere) elsewhere, Subgroup 6 (poorly-integrated patients with moderately severe disease who require caregiver support) was under-represented in Germany (4.5% versus over 17% elsewhere). Patterns of treatment were essentially similar, although quetiapine was more frequently prescribed and paliperidone less frequently prescribed in Germany than elsewhere. Reasons for treatment choice were comparable between countries, primarily related to good tolerability and control of positive symptoms. The differences observed may be attributed to differences in mental health care resource provision, socio-cultural or educational differences or to resource issues.
A minimal brain damage examination was carried out in 73 schizophrenic patients divided into three groups according to their season of birth. Results showed no statistically significant difference among groups in the prevalence of neurological soft signs.
The interest in social adjustment of psychiatric patients has increased since potent therapeutic strategies have become available, allowing patient treatment within their natural social habitat. DSM III has formally recognized the need to evaluate social variables for each patient, introducing Axis V into its multiaxial system. This is of particular relevance for personality disorders where the main pathology is manifested within the social context. In this study, 94 patients with a DSM III-R diagnosis of Panic Disorder, Major Depression, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder have been evaluated with PDE (Personality Disorders Examination) to detect the presence of DSM III personality disorders, and with SAS (Social Adjustment Scale) to assess social adjustment. Results have shown that both Axis I and Axis II diagnoses affect social adjustment, though in a slightly different manner.
Earthquakes are one of the most frequently occurring natural disasters and lot of studies have been conducted on exposed populations, particularly to evaluate post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). On April 6th 2009, the town of L’Aquila, central Italy, was struck by an earthquake, with a strength of 5.9 on the Richter scale, and 309 people have died, 1600 were injuried and more than 65000 were displaced.
To investigate the impact of PTSD in a sample of L’Aquila's people.
To evaluate the prevalence rates of PTSD, either full-blown or partial, among 512 students attending the last year of high school in L’Aquila, 10 months after the earthquake.
Assessments included the trauma and loss spectrum-self report (TALS-SR) and the Impact of Event Scale (IES). Gender differences in the symptoms reported were investigated. Partial PTSD is defined as the presence of symptoms in the DSM-IV Criterion B and C or D for PTSD diagnosis.
Our results showed the presence of PTSD in 192 (37.5%) of the students examined, with significantly (p = .000) higher rates in women than men (N = 120, 51.7% and N = 72, 25.7%, respectively). Moreover, 153 (29.9%) students reported partial PTSD (75, 32.3% women and 78, 27.9% men respectively). Significantly higher PTSD symptoms were reported by women with respect to men.
Our results show high rates of full or partial PTSD in adolescents survived to L’Aquila's earthquake. Women resulted more affected than men. These results highlight the need to carefully explore these conditions.
The aims of this study was to identify patient characteristics associated with once-only contact with a community-based mental health service (CMHS), and to re-evaluate these patients 3 months after the contact.
A 33-month cohort of new episodes of care was followed-up to identify and interview once-only contact patients.
Of the 1,101 patients who met the study criteria, 165 (15%) were discharged after the first contact, 87 (8%) dropped out after the first contact, 440 (40%) were low users and 409 (37%) were high users of the CMHS in the 90 days after the first contact. A higher GAF score, less severe psychiatric diagnoses and lower socioeconomic status were the factors most associated with once-only contact at baseline. At follow-up clinical conditions of patients who had only one contact (both discharged and drop-out) had improved and, in most cases, they were in contact with other services. Drop-out patients, however, were more unwell and less satisfied with the initial contact.
Although there is no way of knowing the status of patients who could not be located, information from the people interviewed suggest that, for a group of patients predominantly without psychoses, dropping out of contact after the first visit is associated with being less satisfied with the services received at the initial contact. This dissatisfaction may had lead these patients seeking help elsewhere. Perhaps, some of these extremely low users are in need of a different or more specialized clinical treatment approach.
Empathy is a complex phenomenon. First of all empathy means the capacity to understand someone else’s state of mind or to identify with his emotional state. From this point of view, empathy plays a fundamental role in psychotherapy and has been studied as a fundamental therapeutic factor. It is true that an emphatic attitude can help other people and lead to a better understanding of their feelings. But empathy can also be used as a horrible instrument to manipulate and abuse the other. We can see this kind of malign empathy in perverted narcissistic relationships, in sadism or in torture, where the torturer can use empathy in order to figure out the most effective ways to make each of his victims suffer.
To evaluate the clinical and functional effects of cannabis abuse in patients at First Episode Psychosis (FEP) referring to Community Mental Health Centre (CMHC) “Bologna Ovest” and in patients admitted with a diagnosis of psychosis at the Modena Emergency Psychiatry Ward (EPW).
All FEP patients, aged 18-35, referring to CMCH “Bologna Ovest” in a 6-years period were evaluated and followed-up at 3 and 12 months. Of the 1559 psychiatric admissions at the Modena EPW in a 3-year period, those with a positive history for substance abuse were selected.
Among the 88 Bologna Ovest FEPs, 32% were cannabis abusers (FEP-c). In Bologna, FEP-c were more frequently natives (23.39% vs 31.13%; c sq=5.1; p=0.02) single (26.38% vs 0,0% c sq=7.3, p=0.007) and unemployed (13.50% vs 18.32%, c sq=2.4, p=0.1). Non FEP-c did not use any other drug (0.0% vs 26.1%, c sq=77.5; p< 0.001). A trend towards higher prevalence of hospital admission at follow-up was found for FEP-c (4.20% vs 2.4%, c sq=3.8, p=0.07). 22.0% of patients admitted at the Modena EPW had a positive history for substance abuse: of these, 7% were diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, which significantly correlated with the use of cannabinoids (alone or in association).
Our results enlighten that cannabis use is frequent among psychotic patients admitted to hospital and worsens clinical course of FEP patients, consistently with previous evidence (Hambrecht & Hafner, 1996; Hafner et al., 2004).
The relevance of a good therapeutic alliance development between patient and therapists in the treatment success has been documented in more than 3 decades of empirical research. In the case of the treatment of severely disturbed patients, the alliance construction process involves particular characteristics determined, in part, by the patients inability to form safety bonds with others and because of, usually, various therapeutic figures are engaged in their treatments. The present work offers a general review of the most important empirical evidence about the therapeutic alliance process in institutional context treatments (i.e., hospitalization, therapeutic community), introduces the concept of Institutional Therapeutic Alliance (ITA) - clinical and empirical phenomenon that accounts for the working bond between the patient and the therapeutic staff perceived as a whole - and reports the major results of a longitudinal study conducted to assess the ITA and explores the relationship with treatment outcomes.
55 day-hospital patients take part in the research and were evaluated at admission, before one week, at discharge and after 3 months. The assessment battery included: Symptom Check List (SCL-90), Global Assessment Scale (GAS), Multidimensional Social Perceived Support Scale (MSPSS), Institutional Working Alliance Inventory (IWAI) and Subjective Distance Scale (SDS). The results show that ITA is positively correlated with symptomatic reduction at discharge and negatively associated with patient's re-hospitalization after 3 months.
The work concludes by discussing, from a clinical point of view, the promoting and obstructing alliance factors linked with the patient, the staff and their relationships.
The concept of Deficit Schizophrenia (DS) is considered one of the most promising attempts to reduce heterogeneity within schizophrenia. Few prospective studies tested its longitudinal stability and ability to predict clinical features and outcome at five years follow-up.
In the present study 51 patients with DS and 43 with Nondeficit Schizophrenia (NDS), previously included in an Italian Multicenter Study on Deficit Schizophrenia, were reassessed after 5 years from the initial evaluation. The diagnosis of DS and NDS was made by raters blind to initial categorization using the Schedule for the Deficit Syndrome. Clinical, neurocognitive and social outcome indices were also evaluated.
The follow-up diagnosis confirmed the baseline one in forty-two out of 51 patients with DS (82.4%) and in 35 out of 54 with NDS (79.6%). Clinical, neuropsychological and social functioning characterization of patients with DS also revealed high reproducibility with respect to baseline assessment: anergia and negative dimension, social isolation and neurocognitive impairment (in particular general cognitive abilities and attention impairment) were more severe in patients with DS than in those with NDS. In neither group a significant deterioration of clinical, neurocognitive and social functioning indices was found, in line with previous studies in patients with chronic schizophrenia.
Study findings provide evidence for the long-term stability of Deficit Schizophrenia.
The present work shows some preliminary results of a longitudinal study aimed at validating a psychometric instrument - the Subjective Distance Scale (SDS) - developed to assess the patient's affective nearness/remoteness towards/from the psychiatric treatment in a Day Hospital program. 55 day hospital patients were assessed at different moments of the treatment: At admission they were evaluated by means of the SDS, the SCL-90-R (patient's psychiatric symptoms) and the GAS (patient's mental health level). Institutional therapeutic alliance was assessed one week from admission (IWAI-p) and finally, patient's psychiatric symptoms were retested (SCL-90-R) at the end of the treatment and 3 months from discharge. The main results reveal good psychometric properties of the SDS: its factorial structure partially confirms the dimensions theoretically hypothesised; its internal consistency - total and most of its subscales - reach adequate reliability levels; and related to its predicted validity, the scale correlates with some important aspects of the treatment, like the quality of the early institutional alliance, the symptomatic improvement and the stability of the improvements in time. New studies with larger samples and conducted in additional psychiatric settings are necessary to guarantee the validity and reliability of the scale before it could be used as a clinical screening instrument.
The Brief Negative Symptom Scale (BNSS) was developed to address the main limitations of the existing scales for the assessment of negative symptoms of schizophrenia. The initial validation of the scale by the group involved in its development demonstrated good convergent and discriminant validity, and a factor structure confirming the two domains of negative symptoms (reduced emotional/verbal expression and anhedonia/asociality/avolition). However, only relatively small samples of patients with schizophrenia were investigated. Further independent validation in large clinical samples might be instrumental to the broad diffusion of the scale in clinical research.
The present study aimed to examine the BNSS inter-rater reliability, convergent/discriminant validity and factor structure in a large Italian sample of outpatients with schizophrenia.
Our results confirmed the excellent inter-rater reliability of the BNSS (the intraclass correlation coefficient ranged from 0.81 to 0.98 for individual items and was 0.98 for the total score). The convergent validity measures had r values from 0.62 to 0.77, while the divergent validity measures had r values from 0.20 to 0.28 in the main sample (n = 912) and in a subsample without clinically significant levels of depression and extrapyramidal symptoms (n = 496). The BNSS factor structure was supported in both groups.
The study confirms that the BNSS is a promising measure for quantifying negative symptoms of schizophrenia in large multicenter clinical studies.
Individual social capital has been recognized as having an important role for health and well-being. We tested the hypothesis that poor social capital increases internalized stigma and, in turn, can reduce empowerment among people with major depressive disorder (MDD).
Materials and methods:
This is a cross-sectional multisite study conducted on a sample of 516 people with MDD in 19 European countries. Structural Equation Models were developed to examine the direct and indirect effects of self-stigma and social capital on empowerment.
Social capital and self-stigma accounted for 56% of the variability in empowerment. Higher social capital was related to lower self-stigma (r = –0.72, P < 0.001) which, in turn, partially mediated the relationship between social capital and empowerment (r = 0.38, P < 0.001).
Social capital plays a key role in the appraisal of empowerment, both directly and through the indirect effect mediated by self-stigma. In order to improve empowerment of people with MDD, we identify strategies to foster individual social capital, and to overcome the negative consequences related to self-stigma for attainment of life goals.