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Predeath grief conceptualizes complex feelings of loss experienced for someone who is still living and is linked to poor emotional well-being. The Road Less Travelled program aimed to help carers of people with rarer dementias identify and process predeath grief. This study evaluated the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary effectiveness of this program.
Pre–post interventional mixed methods study.
Online videoconference group program for carers across the UK held in 2021.
Nine family carers of someone living with a rare form of dementia. Eight were female and one male (mean age 58) with two facilitators.
The Road Less Travelled is an online, facilitated, group-based program that aims to help carers of people with rarer dementias to explore and accept feelings of grief and loss. It involved six fortnightly 2-hour sessions.
We collected measures for a range of well-being outcomes at baseline (T1), post-intervention (T2), and 3 months post-intervention (T3). We conducted interviews with participants and facilitators at T2.
Participant attendance was 98% across all sessions. Findings from the semistructured interviews supported the acceptability of the program and identified improvements in carer well-being. Trends in the outcome measures suggested an improvement in quality of life and a reduction in depression.
The program was feasible to conduct and acceptable to participants. Qualitative reports and high attendance suggest perceived benefits to carers, including increased acceptance of grief, and support the need for a larger-scale pilot study to determine effectiveness.
Positive symptoms are a useful predictor of aggression in schizophrenia. Although a similar pattern of abnormal brain structures related to both positive symptoms and aggression has been reported, this observation has not yet been confirmed in a single sample.
To study the association between positive symptoms and aggression in schizophrenia on a neurobiological level, a prospective meta-analytic approach was employed to analyze harmonized structural neuroimaging data from 10 research centers worldwide. We analyzed brain MRI scans from 902 individuals with a primary diagnosis of schizophrenia and 952 healthy controls.
The result identified a widespread cortical thickness reduction in schizophrenia compared to their controls. Two separate meta-regression analyses revealed that a common pattern of reduced cortical gray matter thickness within the left lateral temporal lobe and right midcingulate cortex was significantly associated with both positive symptoms and aggression.
These findings suggested that positive symptoms such as formal thought disorder and auditory misperception, combined with cognitive impairments reflecting difficulties in deploying an adaptive control toward perceived threats, could escalate the likelihood of aggression in schizophrenia.
In 785 mother–child (50% male) pairs from a longitudinal epidemiological birth cohort, we investigated associations between inflammation-related epigenetic polygenic risk scores (i-ePGS), environmental exposures, cognitive function, and child and adolescent internalizing and externalizing problems. We examined prenatal and postnatal effects. For externalizing problems, one prenatal effect was found: i-ePGS at birth associated with higher externalizing problems (ages 7–15) indirectly through lower cognitive function (age 7). For internalizing problems, we identified two effects. For a prenatal effect, i-ePGS at birth associated with higher internalizing symptoms via continuity in i-ePGS at age 7. For a postnatal effect, higher postnatal adversity exposure (birth through age 7) associated with higher internalizing problems (ages 7–15) via higher i-ePGS (age 7). Hence, externalizing problems were related mainly to prenatal effects involving lower cognitive function, whereas internalizing problems appeared related to both prenatal and postnatal effects. The present study supports a link between i-ePGS and child and adolescent mental health.
Early-onset conduct problems (CP) are a key predictor of adult criminality and poor mental health. While previous studies suggest that both genetic and environmental risks play an important role in the development of early-onset CP, little is known about potential biological processes underlying these associations. In this study, we examined prospective associations between DNA methylation (cord blood at birth) and trajectories of CP (4–13 years), using data drawn from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. Methylomic variation at seven loci across the genome (false discovery rate < 0.05) differentiated children who go on to develop early-onset (n = 174) versus low (n = 86) CP, including sites in the vicinity of the monoglyceride lipase (MGLL) gene (involved in endocannabinoid signaling and pain perception). Subthreshold associations in the vicinity of three candidate genes for CP (monoamine oxidase A [MAOA], brain-derived neurotrophic factor [BDNF], and FK506 binding protein 5 [FKBP5]) were also identified. Within the early-onset CP group, methylation levels of the identified sites did not distinguish children who will go on to persist versus desist in CP behavior over time. Overall, we found that several of the identified sites correlated with prenatal exposures, and none were linked to known genetic methylation quantitative trait loci. Findings contribute to a better understanding of epigenetic patterns associated with early-onset CP.