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The Repugnant Conclusion is an implication of some approaches to population ethics. It states, in Derek Parfit's original formulation,
For any possible population of at least ten billion people, all with a very high quality of life, there must be some much larger imaginable population whose existence, if other things are equal, would be better, even though its members have lives that are barely worth living. (Parfit 1984: 388)
This article analyzes the ambitious Case Quality Assessment System (CQAS) that the Supreme People’s Court of China (SPC) promoted during the first half of the 2010s. It offers a case-study of Court J, a grassroots court located in an affluent urban metropolis of China that struggled to come out ahead in the CQAS competition. The article discusses how the SPC quantified judging and the problems created by the metricization process. The CQAS project is analyzed as a case of metric fixation. By identifying the problems that doomed the CQAS, the article points out the challenges facing the authoritarian regime in subjecting good judging to quantitative output standards. The CQAS is a metric that judges judging. It reveals how judging is viewed by the party-state. The article concludes by discussing the legacy of the CQAS. Though it nominally ended in 2014, key indicators that it introduced for supervising judges are still used by the Chinese courts today. The CQAS presaged the growing centralization that the Chinese judicial system is undergoing today. Though the SPC has terminated the tournament-style competition that defined the CQAS, the metric remains the template used to evaluate judging.
Late-life depression has substantial impacts on individuals, families and society. Knowledge gaps remain in estimating the economic impacts associated with late-life depression by symptom severity, which has implications for resource prioritisation and research design (such as in modelling). This study examined the incremental health and social care expenditure of depressive symptoms by severity.
We analysed data collected from 2707 older adults aged 60 years and over in Hong Kong. The Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) and the Client Service Receipt Inventory were used, respectively, to measure depressive symptoms and service utilisation as a basis for calculating care expenditure. Two-part models were used to estimate the incremental expenditure associated with symptom severity over 1 year.
The average PHQ-9 score was 6.3 (standard deviation, s.d. = 4.0). The percentages of respondents with mild, moderate and moderately severe symptoms and non-depressed were 51.8%, 13.5%, 3.7% and 31.0%, respectively. Overall, the moderately severe group generated the largest average incremental expenditure (US$5886; 95% CI 1126–10 647 or a 272% increase), followed by the mild group (US$3849; 95% CI 2520–5177 or a 176% increase) and the moderate group (US$1843; 95% CI 854–2831, or 85% increase). Non-psychiatric healthcare was the main cost component in a mild symptom group, after controlling for other chronic conditions and covariates. The average incremental association between PHQ-9 score and overall care expenditure peaked at PHQ-9 score of 4 (US$691; 95% CI 444–939), then gradually fell to negative between scores of 12 (US$ - 35; 95% CI - 530 to 460) and 19 (US$ -171; 95% CI - 417 to 76) and soared to positive and rebounded at the score of 23 (US$601; 95% CI -1652 to 2854).
The association between depressive symptoms and care expenditure is stronger among older adults with mild and moderately severe symptoms. Older adults with the same symptom severity have different care utilisation and expenditure patterns. Non-psychiatric healthcare is the major cost element. These findings inform ways to optimise policy efforts to improve the financial sustainability of health and long-term care systems, including the involvement of primary care physicians and other geriatric healthcare providers in preventing and treating depression among older adults and related budgeting and accounting issues across services.
The Straw-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus zeylanicus is one of South-East Asia’s most threatened songbirds due to relentless demand for the regional cage-bird trade. The species was recently uplisted from ‘Endangered’ to ‘Critically Endangered’ only two years after its previous uplisting. Intriguingly, populations in highly urbanised Singapore appear relatively secure. However, the last Singaporean density estimates, derived from traditional census methods, were obtained nearly two decades ago in 2001. A recent population estimate in 2016 was derived from the census work in 2001 coupled with relative abundance indices from population trends. We thus performed systematic field surveys using the distance sampling method, estimating 573 ± 185 individuals nation-wide, with a break-down of 217 ± 81 on the main island of Singapore and 356 ± 104 birds on the satellite of Pulau Ubin. Taken together, the total population estimate reported here comprises 22.9–57.3% of the global wild population, underscoring the importance of Singapore as a stronghold for the species. In spite of its apparently secure status in Singapore, the species remains susceptible to local and foreign trapping pressures. Based on our assessment, we propose a number of local and regional conservation measures to ensure the continued survival of populations in Singapore.
Gravitational waves from coalescing neutron stars encode information about nuclear matter at extreme densities, inaccessible by laboratory experiments. The late inspiral is influenced by the presence of tides, which depend on the neutron star equation of state. Neutron star mergers are expected to often produce rapidly rotating remnant neutron stars that emit gravitational waves. These will provide clues to the extremely hot post-merger environment. This signature of nuclear matter in gravitational waves contains most information in the 2–4 kHz frequency band, which is outside of the most sensitive band of current detectors. We present the design concept and science case for a Neutron Star Extreme Matter Observatory (NEMO): a gravitational-wave interferometer optimised to study nuclear physics with merging neutron stars. The concept uses high-circulating laser power, quantum squeezing, and a detector topology specifically designed to achieve the high-frequency sensitivity necessary to probe nuclear matter using gravitational waves. Above 1 kHz, the proposed strain sensitivity is comparable to full third-generation detectors at a fraction of the cost. Such sensitivity changes expected event rates for detection of post-merger remnants from approximately one per few decades with two A+ detectors to a few per year and potentially allow for the first gravitational-wave observations of supernovae, isolated neutron stars, and other exotica.
We investigated the impact of regionally imposed social and healthcare restrictions due to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) to the time metrics in the management of acute ischemic stroke patients admitted at the regional stroke referral site for Central South Ontario, Canada.
We compared relevant time metrics between patients with acute ischemic stroke receiving intravenous tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) and/or endovascular thrombectomy (EVT) before and after the declared restrictions and state of emergency imposed in our region (March 17, 2020).
We identified a significant increase in the median door-to-CT times for patients receiving intravenous tPA (19 min, interquartile range (IQR): 14–27 min vs. 13 min, IQR: 9–17 min, p = 0.008) and/or EVT (20 min, IQR: 15–33 min vs. 11 min, IQR: 5–20 min, p = 0.035) after the start of social and healthcare restrictions in our region compared to the previous 12 months. For patients receiving intravenous tPA treatment, we also found a significant increase (p = 0.005) in the median door-to-needle time (61 min, IQR: 46–72 min vs. 37 min, IQR: 30–50 min). No delays in the time from symptom onset to hospital presentation were uncovered for patients receiving tPA and/or endovascular reperfusion treatments in the first 1.5 months after the establishment of regional and institutional restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
We detected an increase in our institutional time to treatment metrics for acute ischemic stroke patients receiving tPA and/or endovascular reperfusion therapies, related to delays from hospital presentation to the acquisition of cranial CT imaging for both tPA- and EVT-treated patients, and an added delay to treatment with tPA.
People with common mental disorders often seek medical attention from their family doctors. Thus, it is essential for family doctors to possess primary mental health knowledge. The aim of this study was to understand whether psychiatrists endorse the primary mental health competencies identified by the World Organization of Family Doctors and whether they agree that family doctors are demonstrating these competencies. A questionnaire was constructed based on 32 core competencies. Presidents of all World Psychiatric Association member societies were invited to complete the questionnaire or to forward it to local experts. According to the respondents, these competencies are considered relevant yet not sufficiently possessed by typical primary care doctors. Proposals are made to bridge this assumed competency gap.
Unit cohesion may protect service member mental health by mitigating effects of combat exposure; however, questions remain about the origins of potential stress-buffering effects. We examined buffering effects associated with two forms of unit cohesion (peer-oriented horizontal cohesion and subordinate-leader vertical cohesion) defined as either individual-level or aggregated unit-level variables.
Longitudinal survey data from US Army soldiers who deployed to Afghanistan in 2012 were analyzed using mixed-effects regression. Models evaluated individual- and unit-level interaction effects of combat exposure and cohesion during deployment on symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and suicidal ideation reported at 3 months post-deployment (model n's = 6684 to 6826). Given the small effective sample size (k = 89), the significance of unit-level interactions was evaluated at a 90% confidence level.
At the individual-level, buffering effects of horizontal cohesion were found for PTSD symptoms [B = −0.11, 95% CI (−0.18 to −0.04), p < 0.01] and depressive symptoms [B = −0.06, 95% CI (−0.10 to −0.01), p < 0.05]; while a buffering effect of vertical cohesion was observed for PTSD symptoms only [B = −0.03, 95% CI (−0.06 to −0.0001), p < 0.05]. At the unit-level, buffering effects of horizontal (but not vertical) cohesion were observed for PTSD symptoms [B = −0.91, 90% CI (−1.70 to −0.11), p = 0.06], depressive symptoms [B = −0.83, 90% CI (−1.24 to −0.41), p < 0.01], and suicidal ideation [B = −0.32, 90% CI (−0.62 to −0.01), p = 0.08].
Policies and interventions that enhance horizontal cohesion may protect combat-exposed units against post-deployment mental health problems. Efforts to support individual soldiers who report low levels of horizontal or vertical cohesion may also yield mental health benefits.
The relationship between the subtypes of psychotic experiences (PEs) and common mental health symptoms remains unclear. The current study aims to establish the 12-month prevalence of PEs in a representative sample of community-dwelling Chinese population in Hong Kong and explore the relationship of types of PEs and common mental health symptoms.
This is a population-based two-phase household survey of Chinese population in Hong Kong aged 16–75 (N = 5719) conducted between 2010 and 2013 and a 2-year follow-up study of PEs positive subjects (N = 152). PEs were measured with Psychosis Screening Questionnaire (PSQ) and subjects who endorsed any item on the PSQ without a clinical diagnosis of psychotic disorder were considered as PE-positive. Types of PEs were characterized using a number of PEs (single v. multiple) and latent class analysis. All PE-positive subjects were assessed with common mental health symptoms and suicidal ideations at baseline and 2-year follow-up. PE status was also assessed at 2-year follow-up.
The 12-month prevalence of PEs in Hong Kong was 2.7% with 21.1% had multiple PEs. Three latent classes of PEs were identified: hallucination, paranoia and mixed. Multiple PEs and hallucination latent class of PEs were associated with higher levels of common mental health symptoms. PE persistent rate at 2-year follow-up was 15.1%. Multiple PEs was associated with poorer mental health at 2-year follow-up.
Results highlighted the transient and heterogeneous nature of PEs, and that multiple PEs and hallucination subtype of PEs may be specific indices of poorer common mental health.
Healthy older adults typically retain high functioning in the social realm. Nevertheless, social networks, social support, and qualities of relationships vary in late life. This chapter addresses three questions: (1) What areas of cognitive functioning are associated with the social realm? (2) What mechanisms account for these associations? (3) Do these patterns extend to pathological declines associated with dementia? Individuals with a diversity of social partners retain general cognitive functioning more so than individuals with a limited set of social partners. Social integration provides stimulation and activities, and mitigates negative emotion in ways that contribute to cognitive health. Findings suggest that social ties cannot deter pathological declines associated with dementia. In sum, a wide range of social partners appears to be one of multiple resources (e.g., higher socioeconomic status, better locus of control, better health behaviors) that help maintain cognitive functioning in late life.
Imprinting, characterized by unequal expression of the offspring's genes in a parent-of-origin dependent manner, has been functionally implicated in brain development and in psychiatric disorders. In this study, unambiguous distortion in paternal but not maternal transmission of the disease-associated single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs6556547 (T/G) clearly indicated the presence of parent-of-origin effect (POE) in the GABAA receptor β2 subunit gene (GABRB2). ‘Flipping’ of allelic mRNA expression in heterozygotes of SNP rs2229944 (C/T) and the observed two-tiered distribution of mRNA expression levels in heterozygotes of the disease-associated SNP rs1816071 (G/A) furnished important support for the occurrence of imprinting at GABRB2. Imprinting in effect introduced heterozygotes from different parents-of-origin endowed with dissimilar mRNA expression capabilities. The deficit of upper-tiered expressions accounted for the lowered mRNA expression levels in the schizophrenic heterozygotes. This pointed to the necessity of differentiating between two kinds of heterozygotes of different parental origins in disease association studies on GABRB2. Bisulfite sequencing revealed hypermethylation in the neighborhood of SNP rs1816071, and methylation differences between controls and schizophrenia patients. Notably, allele-specific methylation was observed at the disease-associated SNPs rs6556547 and rs1816071. These findings raised the possibility that CpG methylation status of these sites could have an impact on the expression of GABRB2 and the risk of schizophrenia. Furthermore, the occurrence of imprinting and allele-specific methylation in the schizophrenia candidate gene GABRB2 was compatible with the epigenetic hypothesis for schizophrenia pathophysiology, thereby calling for the need to explore the role of epigenetic factors in mediating susceptibility to schizophrenia.
Previously the GABA(A) receptor beta-2 subunit gene GABRB2 was found to be associated with schizophrenia (SCZ). for SNPs and haplotypes in GRBRB2, the associations with bipolar disorder (BPD), the functional consequences on GABRB2 expression and their relationship to demographic and clinical characteristics in BPD and SCZ remain to be elucidated.
Case-control analysis was performed for association study of GABRB2 with BPD, and its mRNA expression in postmortem BPD brains was examined using quantitative real-time PCR. Quantitative trait analysis was subsequently employed to assess the covariate effects of demographic and clinical characteristics on genotypic correlation of GABRB2 expression in SCZ and BPD.
Significant association of GABRB2 with BPD and reduction in GABRB2 mRNA expression in BPD brains were observed in the present study. Duration of illness (DOI) was found to be a significant covariate for the correlation of the disease-associated SNPs rs1816071, rs1816072 and rs187269 with GABRB2 expression in both SCZ and BPD. for individuals with homozygous major genotypes of these SNPs, while GABRB2 expression increased with age in the controls, it decreased with DOI and age in SCZ, and with DOI in BPD. with age of onset as covariate, these three SNPs were significantly correlated with antipsychotic dosage in SCZ.
These results have thus revealed correlations of GABRB2 SNPs and expression not only with the occurrence of SCZ and BPD, but also with the clinical characteristics of patients, therefore providing support for a shared etiological role played by the gene in both diseases.
Gene × environment (G × E) interactions in eating pathology have been increasingly investigated, however studies have been limited by sample size due to the difficulty of obtaining genetic data.
To synthesize existing G × E research in the eating disorders (ED) field and provide a clear picture of the current state of knowledge with analyses of larger samples.
Complete data from seven studies investigating community (n = 1750, 64.5% female) and clinical (n = 426, 100% female) populations, identified via systematic review, were included. Data were combined to perform five analyses: 5-HTTLPR × Traumatic Life Events (0–17 events) to predict ED status (n = 909), 5-HTTLPR × Sexual and Physical Abuse (n = 1097) to predict bulimic symptoms, 5-HTLPR × Depression to predict bulimic symptoms (n = 1256), and 5-HTTLPR × Impulsivity to predict disordered eating (n = 1149).
The low function (s) allele of 5-HTTLPR interacted with number of traumatic life events (P < .01) and sexual and physical abuse (P < .05) to predict increased likelihood of an ED in females but not males (Fig. 1). No other G × E interactions were significant, possibly due to the medium to low compatibility between datasets (Fig. 1).
Early promising results suggest that increased knowledge of G × E interactions could be achieved if studies increased uniformity of measuring ED and environmental variables, allowing for continued collaboration to overcome the restrictions of obtaining genetic samples.
Disclosure of interest
The authors have not supplied their declaration of competing interest.
Understanding the pattern of middle-ear cholesteatoma becomes pertinent with the rise of endoscopic surgery as surgeons decide on the optimal approach to visualise and extirpate disease. With modifications to the Telmesani attic–tympanum–mastoid staging system, this study aimed to evaluate the commonest patterns of middle-ear cholesteatoma and their implications for surgical approach.
A retrospective study was conducted in a single tertiary institution in Singapore. All patients undergoing cholesteatoma surgery between January 2012 and June 2015 were included. Staging of cholesteatoma was based on clinical assessment corroborated by radiological findings.
Out of the 55 ears included, 98.2 per cent had cholesteatoma involving the attic. The disease extended into the mastoid antrum and beyond in 43 cases (78.2 per cent). The facial recess and/or sinus tympanum was affected in 26 cases (47.3 per cent).
The majority of cholesteatoma cases present with extensive attic disease and significant mastoid involvement. In these cases, endoscopes may be best suited to adjunctive rather than exclusive use in surgery.
Nasal lavage with mupirocin has the potential to reduce sinonasal morbidity in endoscopic endonasal approaches for skull base surgery.
To evaluate the effects of nasal lavage with and without mupirocin after endoscopic endonasal skull base surgery.
A pilot randomised, controlled trial was conducted on 20 adult patients who had undergone endoscopic endonasal approaches for skull base lesions. These patients were randomly assigned to cohorts using nasal lavages with mupirocin or without mupirocin. Patients were assessed in the out-patient clinic, one week and one month after surgery, using the 22-item Sino-Nasal Outcome Test questionnaire and nasal endoscopy.
Patients in the mupirocin nasal lavage group had lower nasal endoscopy scores post-operatively, and a statistically significant larger difference in nasal endoscopy scores at one month compared to one week. The mupirocin nasal lavage group also showed better Sino-Nasal Outcome Test scores at one month compared to the group without mupirocin.
Nasal lavage with mupirocin seems to yield better outcomes regarding patients’ symptoms and endoscopic findings.