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To draw lessons from Fiji regarding the challenges and opportunities for policy initiatives to restrict (i) food marketing to children and (ii) marketing of breast milk substitutes, to inform policy for the double burden of malnutrition.
Qualitative political economy analysis of two policy case studies.
Eleven key informants from relevant sectors, representing public health, economic and consumer interests.
This study used two policy initiatives as case studies to examine factors influencing decision-making: Marketing Controls (Foods for Infants and Young Children) Regulations 2010, amended in 2016 to remove guidelines and restrictions on marketing in the form of labelling, and the draft Advertising and Promotion of Unhealthy Foods and Non-Alcoholic Beverages to Children Regulation developed in 2014 but awaiting review by the Solicitor General’s Office. Factors identified included: a policy paradigm in which regulation of business activity contradicts economic policy goals; limited perception by key policy actors of links between nutrition and marketing of breast milk substitutes, foods and beverages; and a power imbalance between industry and public health stakeholders in policymaking. Regulation of marketing for health purposes sits within the health sector’s interest but not its legislative remit, while within the economic sector’s remit but not interest. Opportunities to strengthen restrictions on marketing to improve nutrition and health include reframing the policy issue, strategic advocacy and community engagement.
Restricting marketing should be recognised by public health actors as a public health and an industry policy issue, to support strategic engagement with economic policy actors.
Prior research has shown that sipping of alcohol begins to emerge during childhood and is potentially etiologically significant for later substance use problems. Using a large, community sample of 9- and 10-year-olds (N = 11,872; 53% female), we examined individual differences in precocious alcohol use in the form of alcohol sipping. We focused explicitly on features that are robust and well-demonstrated correlates of, and antecedents to, alcohol excess and related problems later in the lifespan, including youth- and parent-reported externalizing traits (i.e., impulsivity, behavioral inhibition and activation) and psychopathology. Seventeen percent of the sample reported sipping alcohol outside of a religiously sanctioned activity by age 9 or 10. Several aspects of psychopathology and personality emerged as small but reliable correlates of sipping. Nonreligious sipping was related to youth-reported impulsigenic traits, aspects of behavioral activation, prodromal psychotic-like symptoms, and mood disorder diagnoses, as well as parent-reported externalizing disorder diagnoses. Religious sipping was unexpectedly associated with certain aspects of impulsivity. Together, our findings point to the potential importance of impulsivity and other transdiagnostic indicators of psychopathology (e.g., emotion dysregulation, novelty seeking) in the earliest forms of drinking behavior.
Firefighting service is known to involve high rates of exposure to potentially traumatic situations, and research on mental health in firefighting populations is of critical importance in understanding the impact of occupational exposure. To date, the literature concerning prevalence of trauma-related mental disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has not distinguished between symptomology associated routine duty-related exposure and exposure to large-scale disaster. The present systematic review synthesizes a heterogeneous cross-national literature on large-scale disaster exposure in firefighters and provides support for the hypothesis that the prevalence of PTSD, major depressive disorder, and anxiety disorders are elevated in firefighters compared with rates observed in the general population. In addition, we conducted narrative synthesis concerning several commonly assessed predictive factors for disorder and found that sociodemographic factors appear to bear a weak relationship to mental disorder, while incident-related factors, such as severity and duration of disaster exposure, bear a stronger and more consistent relationship to the development of PTSD and depression in cross-national samples. Future work should expand on these preliminary findings to better understand the impact of disaster exposure in firefighting personnel.
The combination of clozapine and other potentially leukopenic drugs may pose a greater risk for neutropenia. However, neutropenia may not always be due to clozapine. When adding potentially leukopenic drugs, clinicians should look for possible alternatives especially as clozapine is often a drug used as the last resort in treatment refractory schizophrenia.
Depressive episodes experienced in unipolar (UD) and bipolar (BD) disorders are characterized by anhedonia and have been associated with abnormalities in reward processes related to reward valuation and error prediction. It remains however unclear whether these deficits are associated with familial vulnerability to mood disorders.
In a functional magnetic resonance imaging study, we evaluated differences in the expected value (EV) and reward prediction error (RPE) signals in ventral striatum (VS) and prefrontal cortex between three groups of monozygotic twins: affected twins in remission for either UD or BD (n = 53), their high-risk unaffected co-twins (n = 34), and low-risk twins with no family history of mood disorders (n = 25).
Compared to low-risk twins, affected twins showed lower EV signal bilaterally in the frontal poles and lower RPE signal bilaterally in the VS, left frontal pole and superior frontal gyrus. The high-risk group did not show a significant change in the EV or RPE signals in frontostriatal regions, yet both reward signals were consistently lower compared with low-risk twins in all regions where the affected twins showed significant reductions.
Our findings strengthen the notion that reduced valuation of expected rewards and reduced error-dependent reward learning may underpin core symptom of depression such as loss of interest in rewarding activities. The trend reduction in reward-related signals in unaffected co-twins warrants further investigation of this effect in larger samples and prospective follow-up to confirm possible association with increased familial vulnerability to mood disorders.
Lithium (Li) is the gold standard treatment for bipolar disorder (BD). However, its mechanisms of action remain unknown but include neurotrophic effects. We here investigated the influence of Li on cortical and local grey matter (GM) volumes in a large international sample of patients with BD and healthy controls (HC).
We analyzed high-resolution T1-weighted structural magnetic resonance imaging scans of 271 patients with BD type I (120 undergoing Li) and 316 HC. Cortical and local GM volumes were compared using voxel-wise approaches with voxel-based morphometry and SIENAX using FSL. We used multiple linear regression models to test the influence of Li on cortical and local GM volumes, taking into account potential confounding factors such as a history of alcohol misuse.
Patients taking Li had greater cortical GM volume than patients without. Patients undergoing Li had greater regional GM volumes in the right middle frontal gyrus, the right anterior cingulate gyrus, and the left fusiform gyrus in comparison with patients not taking Li.
Our results in a large multicentric sample support the hypothesis that Li could exert neurotrophic and neuroprotective effects limiting pathological GM atrophy in key brain regions associated with BD.
To explore the formal and informal ways in which different actors involved in shaping trade agreements pursue their interests and understand the interactions with nutrition, in order to improve coherence between trade and nutrition policy goals.
The paper draws on empirical evidence from Australian key informant interviews that explore the underlying political dimensions of trade agreements that act as barriers or facilitators to getting nutrition objectives on trade agendas.
Countries experiencing greater availability and access to diets full of energy-dense and nutrient-poor foods through increased imports, greater foreign direct investment and increasing constraints on national health policy space as a result of trade agreements.
Interviews took place with Australian government officials, industry, public-interest non-government organizations and academics.
The analysis reveals the formal and informal mechanisms and structures that different policy actors use both inside and outside trade negotiations to pursue their interests. The analysis also identifies the discourses used by the different actors, as they attempt to influence trade agreements in ways that support or undermine nutrition-related goals.
Moving forward requires policy makers, researchers and health advocates to use various strategies including: reframing the role of trade agreements to include health outcomes; reforming the process to allow greater access and voice to health arguments and stakeholders; establishing cross-government partners through accountable committees; and building circles of consensus and coalitions of sympathetic public-interest actors.
Guidelines for palliative and spiritual care emphasize the importance of screening patients for spiritual suffering. The aim of this review was to synthesize the research evidence of the accuracy of measures used to screen adults for spiritual suffering.
A systematic review of the literature. We searched five scientific databases to identify relevant articles. Two independent reviewers screened, extracted data, and assessed study methodological quality.
We identified five articles that yielded information on 24 spiritual screening measures. Among all identified measures, the two-item Meaning/Joy & Self-Described Struggle has the highest sensitivity (82–87%), and the revised Rush protocol had the highest specificity (81–90%). The methodological quality of all included studies was low.
Significance of Results
While most of the identified spiritual screening measures are brief (comprised 1 to 12 items), few had sufficient accuracy to effectively screen patients for spiritual suffering. We advise clinicians to use their critical appraisal skills and clinical judgment when selecting and using any of the identified measures to screen for spiritual suffering.
We assessed the appropriateness of intravenous antimicrobial starts (IVASs) in Philadelphia County hemodialysis facilities using only National Healthcare Safety Network data. We classified 57.5% of IVASs as inappropriate. These findings warrant further investigation into the determinants of inappropriate IVASs in hemodialysis facilities to enhance antimicrobial stewardship.
The Comprehensive Assessment of Neurodegeneration and Dementia (COMPASS-ND) cohort study of the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging (CCNA) is a national initiative to catalyze research on dementia, set up to support the research agendas of CCNA teams. This cross-country longitudinal cohort of 2310 deeply phenotyped subjects with various forms of dementia and mild memory loss or concerns, along with cognitively intact elderly subjects, will test hypotheses generated by these teams.
The COMPASS-ND protocol, initial grant proposal for funding, fifth semi-annual CCNA Progress Report submitted to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research December 2017, and other documents supplemented by modifications made and lessons learned after implementation were used by the authors to create the description of the study provided here.
The CCNA COMPASS-ND cohort includes participants from across Canada with various cognitive conditions associated with or at risk of neurodegenerative diseases. They will undergo a wide range of experimental, clinical, imaging, and genetic investigation to specifically address the causes, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of these conditions in the aging population. Data derived from clinical and cognitive assessments, biospecimens, brain imaging, genetics, and brain donations will be used to test hypotheses generated by CCNA research teams and other Canadian researchers. The study is the most comprehensive and ambitious Canadian study of dementia. Initial data posting occurred in 2018, with the full cohort to be accrued by 2020.
Availability of data from the COMPASS-ND study will provide a major stimulus for dementia research in Canada in the coming years.
Maximising synergies and minimising conflicts (i.e. building policy coherence) between trade and nutrition policy is an important objective. One understudied driver of policy coherence is the alignment in the frames, discourses and values of actors involved in the respective sectors. In the present analysis, we aim to understand how such actors interpret (i.e. ‘frame’) nutrition and the implications for building trade–nutrition policy coherence.
We adopted a qualitative single case study design, drawing on key informant interviews with those involved in trade policy.
We focused on the Australian trade policy sub-system, which has historically emphasised achieving market growth and export opportunities for Australian food producers.
Nineteen key informants involved in trade policy spanning the government, civil society, business and academic sectors.
Nutrition had low ‘salience’ in Australian trade policy for several reasons. First, it was not a domestic political priority in Australia nor among its trading partners; few advocacy groups were advocating for nutrition in trade policy. Second, a ‘productivist’ policy paradigm in the food and trade policy sectors strongly emphasised market growth, export opportunities and deregulation over nutrition and other social objectives. Third, few opportunities existed for health advocates to influence trade policy, largely because of limited consultation processes. Fourth, the complexity of nutrition and its inter-linkages with trade presented difficulties for developing a ‘broader discourse’ for engaging the public and political leaders on the topic.
Overcoming these ‘ideational challenges’ is likely to be important to building greater coherence between trade and nutrition policy going forward.
The majority of self-management interventions are designed with a narrow focus on patient skills and fail to consider their potential as “catalysts” for improving care delivery. A project was undertaken to develop a patient self-management resource to support evidence-based, person-centered care for cancer pain and overcome barriers at the levels of the patient, provider, and health system.
The project used a mixed-method design with concurrent triangulation, including the following: a national online survey of current practice; two systematic reviews of cancer pain needs and education; a desktop review of online patient pain diaries and other related resources; consultation with stakeholders; and interviews with patients regarding acceptability and usefulness of a draft resource.
Findings suggested that an optimal self-management resource should encourage pain reporting, build patients’ sense of control, and support communication with providers and coordination between services. Each of these characteristics was identified as important in overcoming established barriers to cancer pain care. A pain self-management resource was developed to include: (1) a template for setting specific, measureable, achievable, relevant and time-bound goals of care, as well as identifying potential obstacles and ways to overcome these; and (2) a pain management plan detailing exacerbating and alleviating factors, current strategies for management, and contacts for support.
Significance of results
Self-management resources have the potential for addressing barriers not only at the patient level, but also at provider and health system levels. A cluster randomized controlled trial is under way to test effectiveness of the resource designed in this project in combination with pain screening, audit and feedback, and provider education. More research of this kind is needed to understand how interventions at different levels can be optimally combined to overcome barriers and improve care.
Individuals with bipolar disorder (BD) show aberrant brain activation patterns during reward and loss anticipation. We examined for the first time longitudinal changes in brain activation during win and loss anticipation to identify trait markers of aberrant anticipatory processing in BD.
Thirty-four euthymic and depressed individuals with BD-I and 17 healthy controls (HC) were scanned using functional magnetic resonance imaging twice 6 months apart during a reward task.
HC, but not individuals with BD, showed longitudinal reductions in the right lateral occipital cortex (RLOC) activation during processing of cues predicting possible money loss (p-corrected <0.05). This result was not affected by psychotropic medication, mood state or the changes in depression/mania severity between the two scans in BD. Elevated symptoms of subthreshold hypo/mania at baseline predicted more aberrant longitudinal patterns of RLOC activation explaining 12.5% of variance in individuals with BD.
Increased activation in occipital cortex during negative outcome anticipation may be related to elevated negative emotional arousal during anticipatory cue processing. One interpretation is that, unlike HC, individuals with BD were not able to learn at baseline that monetary losses were smaller than monetary gains and were not able to reduce emotional arousal for negative cues 6 months later. Future research in BD should examine how modulating occipital cortical activation affects learning from experience in individuals with BD.
Trauma exposure is associated with development of depression and anxiety; yet, some individuals are resilient to these trauma-associated effects. Differentiating mechanisms underlying development of negative affect and resilience following trauma is critical for developing effective interventions. One pathway through which trauma could exert its effects on negative affect is reward-learning networks. In this study, we examined relationships among lifetime trauma, reward-learning network function, and emotional states in young adults.
One hundred eleven young adults self-reported trauma and emotional states and underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging during a monetary reward task. Trauma-associated neural activation and functional connectivity were analyzed during reward prediction error (RPE). Relationships between trauma-associated neural functioning and affective and anxiety symptoms were examined.
Number of traumatic events was associated with greater ventral anterior cingulate cortex (vACC) activation, and lower vACC connectivity with the right insula, frontopolar, inferior parietal, and temporoparietal regions, during RPE. Lower trauma-associated vACC connectivity with frontoparietal regions implicated in regulatory and decision-making processes was associated with heightened affective and anxiety symptoms; lower vACC connectivity with insular regions implicated in interoception was associated with lower affective and anxiety symptoms.
In a young adult sample, two pathways linked the impact of trauma on reward-learning networks with higher v. lower negative affective and anxiety symptoms. The disconnection between vACC and regions implicated in decision-making and self-referential processes may reflect aberrant regulatory but appropriate self-focused mechanisms, respectively, conferring risk for v. resilience against negative affective and anxiety symptoms.
There is no consensus as to whether magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) should be used as part of the initial clinical evaluation of patients with first-episode psychosis (FEP).
(a) To assess the logistical feasibility of routine MRI; (b) to define the clinical significance of radiological abnormalities in patients with FEP.
Radiological reports from MRI scans of two FEP samples were reviewed; one comprised 108 patients and 98 healthy controls recruited to a research study and the other comprised 241 patients scanned at initial clinical presentation plus 66 healthy controls.
In the great majority of patients, MRI was logistically feasible. Radiological abnormalities were reported in 6% of the research sample and in 15% of the clinical sample (odds ratio (OR) = 3.1, 95% CI 1.26–7.57, χ2(1) = 6.63, P = 0.01). None of the findings necessitated a change in clinical management.
Rates of neuroradiological abnormalities in FEP are likely to be underestimated in research samples that often exclude patients with organic abnormalities. However, the majority of findings do not require intervention.
The marketing of infant/child milk-based formulas (MF) contributes to suboptimal breast-feeding and adversely affects child and maternal health outcomes globally. However, little is known about recent changes in MF markets. The present study describes contemporary trends and patterns of MF sales at the global, regional and country levels.
Descriptive statistics of trends and patterns in MF sales volume per infant/child for the years 2008–2013 and projections to 2018, using industry-sourced data.
Eighty countries categorized by country income bracket, for developing countries by region, and in countries with the largest infant/child populations.
MF categories included total (for ages 0–36 months), infant (0–6 months), follow-up (7–12 months), toddler (13–36 months) and special (0–6 months).
In 2008–2013 world total MF sales grew by 40·8 % from 5·5 to 7·8 kg per infant/child/year, a figure predicted to increase to 10·8 kg by 2018. Growth was most rapid in East Asia particularly in China, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam and was led by the infant and follow-up formula categories. Sales volume per infant/child was positively associated with country income level although with wide variability between countries.
A global infant and young child feeding (IYCF) transition towards diets higher in MF is underway and is expected to continue apace. The observed increase in MF sales raises serious concern for global child and maternal health, particularly in East Asia, and calls into question the efficacy of current regulatory regimes designed to protect and promote optimal IYCF. The observed changes have not been captured by existing IYCF monitoring systems.
Biomimetic hierarchical surface structures that exhibit features having multiple length scales have been used in many technological and engineering applications. Their surface topographies are most commonly analyzed using scanning electron microscopy (SEM), which only allows for qualitative visual assessments. Here we introduce fractal and lacunarity analyses as a method of characterizing the SEM images of hierarchical surface structures in a quantitative manner. Taking femtosecond laser-irradiated metals as an example, our results illustrate that, while the fractal dimension is a poor descriptor of surface complexity, lacunarity analysis can successfully quantify the spatial texture of an SEM image; this, in turn, provides a convenient means of reporting changes in surface topography with respect to changes in processing parameters. Furthermore, lacunarity plots are shown to be sensitive to the different length scales present within a hierarchical structure due to the reversal of lacunarity trends at specific magnifications where new features become resolvable. Finally, we have established a consistent method of detecting pattern sizes in an image from the oscillation of lacunarity plots. Therefore, we promote the adoption of lacunarity analysis as a powerful tool for quantitative characterization of, but not limited to, multi-scale hierarchical surface topographies.