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People with mental disorders frequently report experiences of discrimination within mental health services, which can have significant detrimental effects on individuals’ well-being and recovery. This study aimed to develop and validate a new standardized measure aiming to assess experiences of stigmatization among people with mental disorders within mental health services.
The scale was developed in Italian and tested for ease of use, comprehension, acceptability, relevance of items and response options within focus group session. A cross-sectional validation survey was conducted among mental health service users in Italy. Exploratory factor analysis with Promax oblique rotation, the Kaiser–Meyer–Olkin (KMO) measure of sampling adequacy and the Bartlett’s test of sphericity were used to assess the suitability of the sample for factor analysis. Reliability was assessed as internal consistency using Cronbach’s alpha and as test–retest reliability using weighted kappa and intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC). Precision was examined by Kendall’s tau-b coefficient.
Overall, 240 people with mental disorders participated in the study; 56 also completed the retest evaluation after 2 weeks. The 18 items of the scale converged over a two-factor solution (‘Dignity violation and personhood devaluation’ and ‘Perceived life restrictions and social exclusion’), accounting for 56.4% of the variance (KMO 0.903; Bartlett’s test p < 0.001). Cronbach’s alpha for the total score was 0.934. The scale showed one item with kappa above 0.81, four items between 0.61 and 0.80, ten items between 0.41 and 0.60, two items between 0.21 and 0.40 and only one item below 0.20. ICC was 0.928 (95% CI 0.877–0.958). Kendall’s tau-b ranged from 0.450 to 0.617 (p < 0.001).
The newly developed scale represents a valid and reliable measure for assessing experiences of stigma among patients receiving care within mental health services. The scale has provided initial evidence of being specifically tailored for individuals with psychotic and bipolar disorders. However, the factorial structure of the scale should be replicated through a confirmatory factor analysis on a larger sample of individuals with these conditions.
Research has consistently shown that language abilities represent a core dimension of psychosis; however, to date, very little is known about syntactic comprehension performance in the early stages of psychosis. This study aims to compare the linguistic abilities involved in syntactic comprehension in a large group of First Episode Psychosis (FEP) patients and healthy controls (HCs).
A multiple choice test of comprehension of syntax was administered to 218 FEP patients (166 non-affective FEP patients [FEP-NA] and 52 affective FEP patients [FEP-A]) and 106 HCs. All participants were asked to match a sentence they listen with one out of four vignettes on a pc screen. Only one vignette represents the stimulus target, while the others are grammatical or non-grammatical (visual) distractors. Both grammatical and non-grammatical errors and performance in different syntactic constructions were considered.
FEP committed greater number of errors in the majority of TCGB language domains compared to HCs. Moreover, FEP-NA patients committed significantly more non-grammatical (z = −3.2, p = 0.007), locative (z = −4.7, p < 0.001), passive-negative (z = −3.2, p = 0.02), and relative (z = −4.6, p < 0.001) errors compared to HCs as well as more passive-affirmative errors compared to both HCs (z = −4.3, p < 0.001) and FEP-A (z = 3.1, p = 0.04). Finally, we also found that both FEP-NA and FEP-A committed more grammatical (FEP-NA: z = −9.2, p < 0.001 and FEP-A: z = −4.4, p < 0.001), total (FEP-NA: z = −8.2, p < 0.001 and FEP-A: z = 3.9, p = 0.002), and active-negative (FEP-NA: z = −5.8, p < 0.001 and FEP-A: z = −3.5, p = 0.01) errors compared to HCs.
This study shows that the access to syntactic structures is already impaired in FEP patients, especially in those with FEP-NA, ultimately suggesting that language impairments represent a core and inner feature of psychosis even at early stages.
The GET UP multi-element psychosocial intervention proved to be superior to treatment as usual in improving outcomes in patients with first-episode psychosis (FEP). However, to guide treatment decisions, information on which patients may benefit more from the intervention is warranted.
To identify patients' characteristics associated with (a) a better treatment response regardless of treatment type (non-specific predictors), and (b) a better response to the specific treatment provided (moderators).
Some demographic and clinical variables were selected a priori as potential predictors/moderators of outcomes at 9 months. Outcomes were analysed in mixed-effects random regression models. (Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT01436331.)
Analyses were performed on 444 patients. Education, duration of untreated psychosis, premorbid adjustment and insight predicted outcomes regardless of treatment. Only age at first contact with the services proved to be a moderator of treatment outcome (patients aged ≥35 years had greater improvement in psychopathology), thus suggesting that the intervention is beneficial to a broad array of patients with FEP.
Except for patients aged over 35 years, no specific subgroups benefit more from the multi-element psychosocial intervention, suggesting that this intervention should be recommended to all those with FEP seeking treatment in mental health services.
No study has so far explored differences in discrimination reported by
people with major depressive disorder (MDD) across countries and
To (a) compare reported discrimination across different countries, and
(b) explore the relative weight of individual and contextual factors in
explaining levels of reported discrimination in people with MDD.
Cross-sectional multisite international survey (34 countries worldwide)
of 1082 people with MDD. Experienced and anticipated discrimination were
assessed by the Discrimination and Stigma Scale (DISC). Countries were
classified according to their rating on the Human Development Index
(HDI). Multilevel negative binomial and Poisson models were used.
People living in ‘very high HDI’ countries reported higher discrimination
than those in ‘medium/low HDI’ countries. Variation in reported
discrimination across countries was only partially explained by
individual-level variables. The contribution of country-level variables
was significant for anticipated discrimination only.
Contextual factors play an important role in anticipated discrimination.
Country-specific interventions should be implemented to prevent
discrimination towards people with MDD.
Considerable variations in the incidence of psychosis have been observed across countries, in terms of age, gender, immigration status, urbanicity and socioeconomic deprivation.
To evaluate the incidence rate of first-episode psychosis in a large area of north-eastern Italy and the distribution of the above-mentioned risk factors in individuals with psychoses.
Epidemiologically based survey. Over a 3-year period individuals with psychosis on first contact with services were identified and diagnosed according to ICD-10 criteria.
In total, 558 individuals with first-episode psychosis were identified during 3 077 555 person-years at risk. The annual incidence rate per 100 000 was 18.1 for all psychoses, 14.3 for non-affective psychoses and 3.8 for affective psychoses. The rate for all psychoses was higher in young people aged 20–29 (incidence rate ratio (IRR) = 4.18, 95% CI 2.77–6.30), immigrants (IRR = 2.26, 95% CI 1.85–2.75) and those living in the most deprived areas (IRR = 2.09, 95% CI 1.54–2.85).
The incidence rate in our study area was lower than that found in other European and North American studies and provides new insights into the factors that may increase and/or decrease risk for developing psychosis.
Aims – To evaluate the quality of psychiatric care during the acute psychotic episode and the early post-acute period. Methods – Data concerning 24 indicators, drawn from NICE recommendations, were collected in 19 Departments of Mental Health, in the frame of the SIEP-DIRECT's Project to evaluate the implementation of NICE recommendations in Italian Mental Health Services. Results – The treatment of the acute episode in the Italian Mental Health Services is not based only on admissions in Psychiatric Ward in General Hospitals, but also on intensive home based care. The utilization of day hospital facilities for treating acute episodes is less frequent, as the presence of home based follow up after discharge. About of Departments of Mental Health did not have clinical guidelines concerning the pharmacological treatment in this area. However usually the standard practices followed NICE recommendations in terms of prescribed dosages, monitoring side effects and rationale for shifting to atypical antipsychotic drugs. Antipsychotic drugs, atypical or conventional, were frequently prescribed concurrently, while utilization of atypical antipsychotic drugs was increasing. Conclusions – The results show critical points concerning on one hand the scarce diffusion of clinical guidelines, on other hand the connection between standard practices, clinical guidelines and marketing of atypical antipsychotic drugs. It should be reinforced the role of the community and particularly at service level the capacity of community mental health teams to treat the acute patients.
Aims – To evaluate the quality of psychiatric care in Italian community-based services and the discrepancy between real practices and NICE recommendations for the treatment of schizophrenia concerning the elements common to all phases of care and the first episode of psychosis. Methods – Data concerning 14 indicators on common aspects of care in all phases and 11 indicators concerning psychosis onset, drawn from NICE Recommendations, were collected in 19 Departments of Mental Health. Results – An optimistic attitude seems to prevail in the staff in all phases of care, while remarkable discrepancies between service practice and recommendations have been found in relation to systematic assessment, availability of informative leaflets and support to relatives. Concerning the treatment of first episode, a lack of specific services and differentiated activities, and paucity of practices based on specific guidelines has been detected. However, Italian community based services proved to have a good capacity to provide help quickly to those seeking help for a psychotic onset, to maintain regular contact with them in the subsequent year, and provide pharmacological treatment reasonably in line with the scientific evidence. Instead, little specific support is provided to the relatives. Conclusions – The results show critical points concerning capacity of assessment and treatment standardization, in all aspects of care and specifically in the treatment for the first episode. Differentiation of activities specifically dedicated to the patients at their first episode should be promoted as well as strategies to support relatives in a more specific way.
Aims – To evaluate the quality of acute psychiatric care concerning the management of violent behaviour and rapid tran-quilization. Methods – Data concerning 13 indicators, drawn from NICE recommendations, were collected in 19 Departments of Mental Health, in the frame of the SIEP-DIRECT's Project, to evaluate the implementation of NICE recommendations in Italian Mental Health Services. Results – In about two thirds of Departments of Mental Health (DMHs) professionals were trained in the management of violent behaviour, while written procedures existed only in one fourth of DMHs. About a half of the professionals working in Psychiatric Wards in General Hospital were trained in rapid tranquilization, while procedures on this topic are practically absent and specific care for monitoring intensively the heavily sedated patient was not frequent. Conclusions – Management of violent behaviour and rapid tranquilization are two critical areas in the care performed by Psychiatric Wards in General Hospital. Training on these topics is more frequent than implementation of procedures. NICE recommendations and SIEP indicators are useful tools for improving the quality of acute psychiatric care.
Aims – The aim of this work is to present the main discrepancies, as evidenced by the SIEP-DIRECT's Project, between the evidence-based NICE guidelines for schizophrenia and the usual practices of the Italian mental health services in order to promote the recovery of patients with schizophrenia. Methods – Starting from the main NICE recommendations on recovery promotion, 41 indicators were developed. These were experimented in 19 participating Italian Mental Health Departments (MHD) or Psychiatric Services through self-evaluation of the activities carried out to promote patient recovery with the aim of assessing the level of adherence to the recommendations. The data required by most of the indicators were obtained from the psychiatric informative system or from the Direction of the MHD. Moreover, specific research was carried out on the clinical records and on representative patient samples. Furthermore, for 14 indicators, there was requested an assessment by the part of “multidisciplinary” or “specialistic” focus groups who then attributed a score according to a defined “ad hoc” scale. Results – According to the data obtained, although the mental health services seem to care about the physical condition of their patients, they do not routinely examine principle parameters such as blood pressure, glycaemia etc., and collaboration with general practitioners is often complex or not uniformly practiced. Most psychiatrists and psychologists possess the basic communication skills but not enough competences in cognitive-behavioural treatments; such treatments, and every other form of structured individual psychotherapy, are seldom carried out and seem to have become marginal activities within the Services. Also family psycho-educational interventions are under-used. The Services are very active in the care of multi-problem schizophrenia patients, who make up a large percentage (almost a quarter, on average) of the patients in their care. These patients are offered specific and integrated treatment plans with the involvement of other health services and social agencies operating in the territory. The strategies adopted by the services for the pharmacological treatment in the prevention of relapses and for patients with frequent crises or with treatment-resistant schizophrenia are all in line with the NICE recommendations. Finally, the Services promote activities of vocational training and supported employment, but the outcomes of these are often unsatisfactory. Conclusions – The results of the study show a picture of the Italian mental health services with bright yet also dark areas as regards recovery promotion activities. The Services seem to guarantee adequate pharmacological evidence-based treatments, an integrated assistance and good management of multi-problem patients. They have difficulty, however, with respect to the monitoring of the physical health of the patients, psychotherapeutic activities, including those for families, and the promotion of supported employment. Moreover, they still show problems regarding the structuring and formalizing of care processes. To improve this situation, they should make greater use of professional guidelines, protocols and written procedures.
Staff burnout is a critical issue for mental healthcare delivery, as it can lead to decreased work performance and, ultimately to poorer treatment outcomes.
To explore the relative weight of job-related characteristics and perceived organisational factors in predicting burnout in staff working in community-based psychiatric services.
A representative sample of 2000 mental health staff working in the Veneto region, Italy, participated. Burnout and perceived organisational factors were assessed by using the Organizational Checkup Survey.
Overall, high levels of job distress affected nearly two-thirds of the psychiatric staff and one in five staff members suffered from burnout. Psychiatrists and social workers reported the highest levels of burnout, and support workers and psychologists, the lowest. Burnout was mostly predicted by a higher frequency of face-to-face interaction with users, longer tenure in mental healthcare, weak work group cohesion and perceived unfairness.
Improving the workplace atmosphere within psychiatric services should be one of the most important targets in staff burnout prevention strategies. The potential benefits of such programmes may, in turn, have a favourable impact on patient outcomes.
There is little knowledge of the predictors of objective and subjective quality of life.
To describe changes at 2 and 6 years in objective and subjective quality of life in 261 individuals attending a community mental health service and to identify predictors of change in each life domain.
Prospective study of demographic, diagnostic and service utilisation characteristics, psychopathology, functioning, disability, self-esteem, affect balance and service satisfaction.
Female gender, unmarried status, older age, less education and greater disability predicted a worsening of objective quality of life over time, but explain a small amount of variance. The variance in subjective quality of life was higher (>40%). Greater clinician-rated anxiety and depressive symptoms had a negative effect on satisfaction with health and general well-being. Psychological status, self-esteem and satisfaction with service were the most important predictors in almost all subjective domains; these variables should be important targets for treatment.
This study is the first to provide information to enable clinicians to make prognostic judgements about quality of life and plan effective therapeutic strategies to improve quality of life.
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