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In low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) in general and sub-Sahara African (SSA) countries in particular, there is both a large treatment gap for mental disorders and a relative paucity of empirical evidence about how to fill this gap. This is more so for severe mental disorders, such as psychosis, which impose an additional vulnerability for human rights abuse on its sufferers. A major factor for the lack of evidence is the few numbers of active mental health (MH) researchers on the continent and the distance between the little evidence generated and the policy-making process.
The Partnership for Mental Health Development in Africa (PaM-D) aimed to bring together diverse MH stakeholders in SSA, working collaboratively with colleagues from the global north, to create an infrastructure to develop MH research capacity in SSA, advance global MH science by conducting innovative public health-relevant MH research in the region and work to link research to policy development. Participating SSA countries were Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria and South Africa. The research component of PaM-D focused on the development and assessment of a collaborative shared care (CSC) program between traditional and faith healers (T&FHs) and biomedical providers for the treatment of psychotic disorders, as a way of improving the outcome of persons suffering from these conditions. The capacity building component aimed to develop research capacity and appreciation of the value of research in a broad range of stakeholders through bespoke workshops and fellowships targeting specific skill-sets as well as mentoring for early career researchers.
In the research component of PaM-D, a series of formative studies were implemented to inform the development of an intervention package consisting of the essential features of a CSC for psychosis implemented by primary care providers and T&FHs. A cluster randomised controlled trial was next designed to test the effectiveness of this package on the outcome of psychosis. In the capacity-building component, 35 early and mid-career researchers participated in the training workshops and several established mentor-mentee relationships with senior PaM-D members. At the end of the funding period, 60 papers have been published and 21 successful grant applications made.
The success of PaM-D in energising young researchers and implementing a cutting-edge research program attests to the importance of partnership among researchers in the global south working with those from the north in developing MH research and service in LMIC.
Childhood adversity is associated with cognitive impairments in schizophrenia. However, findings to date are inconsistent and little is known about the relationship between social cognition and childhood trauma. We investigated the relationship between childhood abuse and neglect and cognitive function in patients with a first-episode of schizophrenia or schizophreniform disorder (n = 56) and matched healthy controls (n = 52). To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study assessing this relationship in patients and controls exposed to similarly high levels of trauma.
Pearson correlational coefficients were used to assess correlations between Childhood Trauma Questionnaire abuse and neglect scores and cognition. For the MCCB domains displaying significant (p < 0.05) correlations, within group hierarchical linear regression, was done to assess whether abuse and neglect were significant predictors of cognition after controlling for the effect of education.
Patients and controls reported similarly high levels of abuse and neglect. Cognitive performance was poorer for patients compared with controls for all cognitive domains except working memory and social cognition. After controlling for education, exposure to childhood neglect remained a significant predictor of impairment in social cognition in both patients and controls. Neglect was also a significant predictor of poorer verbal learning in patients and of attention/vigilance in controls. However, childhood abuse did not significantly predict cognitive impairments in either patients or controls.
These findings are cross sectional and do not infer causality. Nonetheless, they indicate that associations between one type of childhood adversity (i.e. neglect) and social cognition are present and are not illness-specific.
Distinguishing temporal patterns of depressive symptoms during pregnancy and after childbirth has important clinical implications for diagnosis, treatment, and maternal and child outcomes. The primary aim of the present study was to distinguish patterns of chronically elevated levels of depressive symptoms v. trajectories that are either elevated during pregnancy but then remit after childbirth, v. patterns that increase after childbirth.
The report uses latent growth mixture modeling in a large, population-based cohort (N = 12 121) to investigate temporal patterns of depressive symptoms. We examined theoretically relevant sociodemographic factors, exposure to adversity, and offspring gender as predictors.
Four distinct trajectories emerged, including resilient (74.3%), improving (9.2%), emergent (4.0%), and chronic (11.5%). Lower maternal and paternal education distinguished chronic from resilient depressive trajectories, whereas higher maternal and partner education, and female offspring gender, distinguished the emergent trajectory from the chronic trajectory. Younger maternal age distinguished the improving group from the resilient group. Exposure to medical, interpersonal, financial, and housing adversity predicted membership in the chronic, emergent, and improving trajectories compared with the resilient trajectory. Finally, exposure to medical, interpersonal, and financial adversity was associated with the chronic v. improving group, and inversely related to the emergent class relative to the improving group.
There are distinct temporal patterns of depressive symptoms during pregnancy, after childbirth, and beyond. Most women show stable low levels of depressive symptoms, while emergent and chronic depression patterns are separable with distinct correlates, most notably maternal age, education levels, adversity exposure, and child gender.
Lower and middle income countries (LMICs) are home to >80% of the global population, but mental health researchers and LMIC investigator led publications are concentrated in 10% of LMICs. Increasing research and research outputs, such as in the form of peer reviewed publications, require increased capacity building (CB) opportunities in LMICs. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) initiative, Collaborative Hubs for International Research on Mental Health reaches across five regional ‘hubs’ established in LMICs, to provide training and support for emerging researchers through hub-specific CB activities. This paper describes the range of CB activities, the process of monitoring, and the early outcomes of CB activities conducted by the five research hubs.
The indicators used to describe the nature, the monitoring, and the early outcomes of CB activities were developed collectively by the members of an inter-hub CB workgroup representing all five hubs. These indicators included but were not limited to courses, publications, and grants.
Results for all indicators demonstrate a wide range of feasible CB activities. The five hubs were successful in providing at least one and the majority several courses; 13 CB recipient-led articles were accepted for publication; and nine grant applications were successful.
The hubs were successful in providing CB recipients with a wide range of CB activities. The challenge remains to ensure ongoing CB of mental health researchers in LMICs, and in particular, to sustain the CB efforts of the five hubs after the termination of NIMH funding.
Mental disorders may increase the risk of physical violence among married couples.
To estimate associations between premarital mental disorders and marital violence in a cross-national sample of married couples.
A total of 1821 married couples (3642 individuals) from 11 countries were interviewed as part of the World Health Organization's World Mental Health Survey Initiative. Sixteen mental disorders with onset prior to marriage were examined as predictors of marital violence reported by either spouse.
Any physical violence was reported by one or both spouses in 20% of couples, and was associated with husbands' externalising disorders (OR = 1.7, 95% CI 1.2–2.3). Overall, the population attributable risk for marital violence related to premarital mental disorders was estimated to be 17.2%.
Husbands' externalising disorders had a modest but consistent association with marital violence across diverse countries. This finding has implications for the development of targeted interventions to reduce risk of marital violence.
Prior studies in the USA have reported higher rates of mental disorders among
persons with arthritis but no cross-national studies have been conducted. In
this study the prevalence of specific mental disorders among persons with
arthritis was estimated and their association with arthritis across diverse
The study was a series of cross-sectional population sample surveys. Eighteen
population surveys of household-residing adults were carried out in 17
countries in different regions of the world. Most were carried out between
2001 and 2002, but others were completed as late as 2007. Mental disorders
were assessed with the World Health Organization (WHO)
World Mental Health–Composite International Diagnostic Interview
(WMH-CIDI). Arthritis was ascertained by self-report.
The association of anxiety disorders, mood disorders and alcohol use
disorders with arthritis was assessed, controlling for age and sex.
Prevalence rates for specific mental disorders among persons with and
without arthritis were calculated and odds ratios
(ORs) with 95% confidence intervals were
used to estimate the association.
After adjusting for age and sex, specific mood and anxiety disorders occurred
among persons with arthritis at higher rates than among persons without
arthritis. Alcohol abuse/dependence showed a weaker and less
consistent association with arthritis. The pooled estimates of the age- and
sex-adjusted ORs were about 1.9 for mood disorders and for anxiety disorders
and about 1.5 for alcohol abuse/dependence among persons with
versus without arthritis. The pattern
of association between specific mood and anxiety disorders and arthritis was
similar across countries.
Mood and anxiety disorders occur with greater frequency among persons with
arthritis than those without arthritis across diverse countries. The
strength of association of specific mood and anxiety disorders with
arthritis was generally consistent across disorders and across
There is a lack of comparative data on the prevalence and effects of exposure to violence in African youth.
We assessed trauma exposure, post-traumatic stress symptoms and gender differences in adolescents from two African countries.
A sample of 2041 boys and girls from 18 schools in Cape Town and Nairobi completed anonymous self-report questionnaires.
More than 80% reported exposure to severe trauma, either as victims or witnesses. Kenyan adolescents, compared with South African, had significantly higher rates of exposure to witnessing violence (69% v. 58%), physical assault by a family member (27% v. 14%) and sexual assault (18% v. 14%). But rates of current full-symptom post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (22.2% v. 5%) and current partial-symptom PTSD (12% v. 8%) were significantly higher in the South African sample. Boys were as likely as girls to meet PTSD symptom criteria.
Although the lifetime exposure to trauma was comparable across both settings, Kenyan adolescents had much lower rates of PTSD. This difference may be attributable to cultural and other trauma-related variables. High rates of sexual assault and PTSD, traditionally documented in girls, may also occur in boys and warrant further study.
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