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Perceived discrimination is associated with worse mental health. Few studies have assessed whether perceived discrimination (i) is associated with the risk of psychotic disorders and (ii) contributes to an increased risk among minority ethnic groups relative to the ethnic majority.
We used data from the European Network of National Schizophrenia Networks Studying Gene-Environment Interactions Work Package 2, a population-based case−control study of incident psychotic disorders in 17 catchment sites across six countries. We calculated odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) for the associations between perceived discrimination and psychosis using mixed-effects logistic regression models. We used stratified and mediation analyses to explore differences for minority ethnic groups.
Reporting any perceived experience of major discrimination (e.g. unfair treatment by police, not getting hired) was higher in cases than controls (41.8% v. 34.2%). Pervasive experiences of discrimination (≥3 types) were also higher in cases than controls (11.3% v. 5.5%). In fully adjusted models, the odds of psychosis were 1.20 (95% CI 0.91–1.59) for any discrimination and 1.79 (95% CI 1.19–1.59) for pervasive discrimination compared with no discrimination. In stratified analyses, the magnitude of association for pervasive experiences of discrimination appeared stronger for minority ethnic groups (OR = 1.73, 95% CI 1.12–2.68) than the ethnic majority (OR = 1.42, 95% CI 0.65–3.10). In exploratory mediation analysis, pervasive discrimination minimally explained excess risk among minority ethnic groups (5.1%).
Pervasive experiences of discrimination are associated with slightly increased odds of psychotic disorders and may minimally help explain excess risk for minority ethnic groups.
To describe the type and level of ethical integration in published health technology assessment (HTA) reports and systematically identify the ethical approaches utilized.
A literature search was conducted with the Google™ search engine using the keyword “ethic” between 1 January 2015 and 20 August 2019. Only HTA assessment reports with a section on ethics were retained and classified according to their level of ethical integration: no ethical analysis, ethical issues highlighted, assessments according to legal or social norms, and assessments from a moral or axiological perspective—using a qualitative methodology to distinguish such integration.
This review yielded 188 reports with a section identified as being on ethics, produced by seventeen HTA agencies in eleven countries. One hundred and thirty-six reports did not develop an ethical analysis, thirty-one highlighted ethical issues, seventeen conducted a norm-based ethical assessment using a descriptive approach grounded in social norms, and four developed an assessment grounded in a moral or axiological perspective. The bioethical “four-principles” framework was used, but mainly for presenting ethical issues and not as a moral framework.
The majority of reports featuring a section on ethics mention ethical considerations without ethical analysis. Ethical issues are grouped with legal, social, and organizational issues and treated as contextual considerations that decision makers should be aware of. When reports present systematic norm-based ethical assessments from a descriptive perspective or ethical assessment based on a moral or axiological perspective, there is a tendency to ground these analyses in frameworks created for the purpose and reliant on a concept of ethics supporting them.
Integration of ethics into technology assessment in healthcare (HTA) reports is directly linked to the need of decision makers to provide rational grounds justifying their social choices. In a decision-making paradigm, facts and values are intertwined and the social role of HTA reports is to provide relevant information to decision makers. Since 2003, numerous surveys and discussions have addressed different aspects of the integration of ethics into HTA. This study aims to clarify how HTA professionals consider the integration of ethics into HTA, so an international survey was conducted in 2018 and the results are reported here.
A survey comprising twenty-two questions was designed and carried out from April 2018 to July 2018. Three hundred and twenty-eight HTA agencies from seventy-five countries were invited to participate in this survey.
Eighty-nine participants completed the survey, representing a participation rate of twenty-seven percent. As to how HTA reports should fulfill their social role, over 84 percent of respondents agreed upon the necessity to address this role for decision makers, patients, and citizens. At a lower level, the same was found regarding the necessity to make value-judgments explicit in different report sections, including ethical analysis. This contrasts with the response-variability obtained on the status of ethical analysis with the exception of the expertise required. Variability in stakeholder-participation usefulness was also observed.
This study reveals the importance of a three-phase approach, including assessment, contextual data, and recommendations, and highlights the necessity to make explicit value-judgments and have a systematic ethical analysis in order to fulfill HTA's social role in guiding decision makers.
The ‘jumping to conclusions’ (JTC) bias is associated with both psychosis and general cognition but their relationship is unclear. In this study, we set out to clarify the relationship between the JTC bias, IQ, psychosis and polygenic liability to schizophrenia and IQ.
A total of 817 first episode psychosis patients and 1294 population-based controls completed assessments of general intelligence (IQ), and JTC, and provided blood or saliva samples from which we extracted DNA and computed polygenic risk scores for IQ and schizophrenia.
The estimated proportion of the total effect of case/control differences on JTC mediated by IQ was 79%. Schizophrenia polygenic risk score was non-significantly associated with a higher number of beads drawn (B = 0.47, 95% CI −0.21 to 1.16, p = 0.17); whereas IQ PRS (B = 0.51, 95% CI 0.25–0.76, p < 0.001) significantly predicted the number of beads drawn, and was thus associated with reduced JTC bias. The JTC was more strongly associated with the higher level of psychotic-like experiences (PLEs) in controls, including after controlling for IQ (B = −1.7, 95% CI −2.8 to −0.5, p = 0.006), but did not relate to delusions in patients.
Our findings suggest that the JTC reasoning bias in psychosis might not be a specific cognitive deficit but rather a manifestation or consequence, of general cognitive impairment. Whereas, in the general population, the JTC bias is related to PLEs, independent of IQ. The work has the potential to inform interventions targeting cognitive biases in early psychosis.
Placental lipids transfer is essential for optimal fetal development, and alterations of these mechanisms could lead to a higher risk of adverse birth outcomes. Low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR), LDL receptor-related protein 1 (LRP1), and scavenger receptor class B type 1 (SCARB1) genes are encoding lipoprotein receptors expressed in the placenta where they participate in cholesterol exchange from maternal to fetal circulation. The aim of this study was thus to investigate the association between maternal lipid changes occurring in pregnancy, placental DNA methylation (DNAm) variations at LDLR, LRP1, and SCARB1 gene loci, and newborn’s anthropometric profile at birth. Sixty-nine normoglycemic women were followed from the first trimester of pregnancy until delivery. Placental DNAm was quantified at 43 Cytosine-phosphate-Guanines (CpGs) at LDLR, LRP1, and SCARB1 gene loci using pyrosequencing: 4 CpGs were retained for further analysis. Maternal clinical data were collected at each trimester of pregnancy. Newborns’ data were collected from medical records. Statistical models included minimally newborn sex and gestational and maternal age. Maternal total cholesterol changes during pregnancy (ΔT3-T1) were correlated with DNAm variations at LDLR (r = −0.32, p = 0.01) and LRP1 (r = 0.34, p = 0.007). DNAm at these loci was also correlated with newborns’ cord blood triglyceride and leptin levels. Mediation analysis supports a causal relationship between maternal cholesterol changes, DNAm levels at LRP1 locus, and cord blood leptin concentration (pmediation = 0.02). These results suggest that LRP1 DNAm link maternal blood cholesterol changes in pregnancy and offspring adiposity at birth, which provide support for a better follow-up of blood lipids in pregnancy.
Mental health professionals form an important component of the response teams currently working in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to treat what is historically the second-largest Ebola outbreak. They provide psychological treatment to patients under extraordinary conditions, helping them cope with anxiety and the daily death of other patients.
After surveying its members on ethical issues (2003), the International Network of Agencies for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) mandated its Ethics Working Group (2005) to reflect on the role of health technology assessment (HTA) organizations in meeting social expectations. Some aspects of these have since been clarified by two studies addressing either the official position of INAHTA's members or the publication authors. An international survey was carried out on the perception of HTA professionals’ expectations when producing HTA reports: how to fulfil HTA's social role, which value judgments should be made explicit and what should be the status of ethical analysis.
A twenty-two question, web-based, anonymous survey was devised from our recent systematic review on the integration of ethics into HTA and carried from April to July 2018. The information on 328 HTA agencies/contact persons from seventy-five countries was collected from the website of INAHTA, Health Technology Assessment International (HTAi), the European Network for Health Technology Assessment (EUnetHTA), EuroScan International Network, the HTA Network of the Americas (RedETSA) and the HTA Network of Asia (HTAsiaLink), a 2015 World Health Organization survey, HTAi members, and our local HTA network (Québec, Canada).
Eighty-nine participants completed and submitted a finalized survey for a 27 percent participation rate representing thirty-three countries. Regarding how the HTA reports should fulfil their social role, our results showed that over 84 percent of the respondents agreed upon the necessity to address it to decision makers, patients and citizens. At a lower and more variable level, the same result was found about the necessity to make value judgements explicit in different sections of the report, including ethical analysis. This contrasts with the variability of responses obtained on the status of ethical analysis although an agreement on the expertise required was observed. Variability in the usefulness of patient, public or stakeholder participation was observed.
At the dawn of this decade, this study reveals high expectations on context-dependent decisions in HTA: the necessity to integrate the ‘explicitation’ of value judgements and systematic ethical analysis to fulfil HTA's social role.
Hand hygiene is the primary measure for reducing nosocomial infections based on 7 steps recommended by the WHO. The aim of this study was to assess the duration and the quality of hand hygiene before and after simulation-based training (SBT).
The study took place in a University Hospital Pediatric Department among its residents and nurses. In assessment A, 10 hand-rubbing procedures per participant during a work day were scored by observers using a validated, anatomically based assessment scale. Two weeks later, all participants received a didactic course and SBT, followed 1 month later by assessment B, observation of 10 hand-rubbing procedures. Assessments were performed by 2 independent observers. Before-and-after testing was used to evaluate the demonstration of theoretical knowledge.
In total, 22 participants were included, for whom 438 hand hygiene procedures were assessed: 218 for assessment A and 220 for assessment B. The duration of hand rubbing increased from 31.16 seconds in assessment A to 35.75 seconds in assessment B (P=.04). In assessment A, participants averaged 6.33 steps, and in assessment B, participants averaged 6.03 steps (difference not significant). Significant improvement in scores was observed between assessments A and B, except for the dorsal side of the right hand. The wrist and interdigital areas were the least-cleaned zones. A difference between assessments A and B was observed for nail varnish (P=.003) but not for long nails or jewelry. Theoretical scores increased from 2.83 to 4.29 (scale of 0–5; P<.001).
This study revealed that an optimal number of steps were performed during hand-rubbing procedures and that SBT improved the duration and quality of hand hygiene, except for the dorsal right side. Emphasis should be placed on the specific hand areas that remained unclean after regular hand-rubbing procedures.
The value of the nosological distinction between non-affective and affective psychosis has frequently been challenged. We aimed to investigate the transdiagnostic dimensional structure and associated characteristics of psychopathology at First Episode Psychosis (FEP). Regardless of diagnostic categories, we expected that positive symptoms occurred more frequently in ethnic minority groups and in more densely populated environments, and that negative symptoms were associated with indices of neurodevelopmental impairment.
This study included 2182 FEP individuals recruited across six countries, as part of the EUropean network of national schizophrenia networks studying Gene–Environment Interactions (EU-GEI) study. Symptom ratings were analysed using multidimensional item response modelling in Mplus to estimate five theory-based models of psychosis. We used multiple regression models to examine demographic and context factors associated with symptom dimensions.
A bifactor model, composed of one general factor and five specific dimensions of positive, negative, disorganization, manic and depressive symptoms, best-represented associations among ratings of psychotic symptoms. Positive symptoms were more common in ethnic minority groups. Urbanicity was associated with a higher score on the general factor. Men presented with more negative and less depressive symptoms than women. Early age-at-first-contact with psychiatric services was associated with higher scores on negative, disorganized, and manic symptom dimensions.
Our results suggest that the bifactor model of psychopathology holds across diagnostic categories of non-affective and affective psychosis at FEP, and demographic and context determinants map onto general and specific symptom dimensions. These findings have implications for tailoring symptom-specific treatments and inform research into the mood-psychosis spectrum.
An anatomically based assessment scale of handwashing quality with alcohol-based hand rub was designed. Contents of the scale divided each hand into 40 zones. Psychometric measurements were studied in 30 participants (120 hand sides). The scale was both valid (Cronbach α: 0·83 dorsal side and 0·73 palmar side) and reproducible (linear regression R2, 0·91; intraclass correlation coefficient, 0·99).
Deafness frequently observed in explosion victims, currently following terrorist attack, is a barrier to communication between victims and first responders. This may result in a delay in the initial triage and evacuation. In such situations, Paris Fire Brigade (Paris, France) proposes the use of assistance cards to help conscious, but deafened patients at the site of an attack where there may be numerous victims.
Yavari-SartakhtiO, BricheF, JostD, MichaudN, BignandM, TourtierJP. A New Triage Support Tool in Case of Explosion. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2018;33(2):213–214.
Integration of ethics into health technology assessment (HTA) remains challenging for HTA practitioners. We conducted a systematic review on social and methodological issues related to ethical analysis in HTA. We examined: (1) reasons for integrating ethics (social needs); (2) obstacles to ethical integration; (3) concepts and processes deployed in ethical evaluation (more specifically value judgments) and critical analyses of formal experimentations of ethical evaluation in HTA.
Search criteria included “ethic,” “technology assessment,” and “HTA”. The literature search was done in Medline/Ovid, SCOPUS, CINAHL, PsycINFO, and the international HTA Database. Screening of citations, full-text screening, and data extraction were performed by two subgroups of two independent reviewers. Data extracted from articles were grouped into categories using a general inductive method.
A list of 1,646 citations remained after the removal of duplicates. Of these, 132 were fully reviewed, yielding 67 eligible articles for analysis. The social need most often reported was to inform policy decision making. The absence of shared standard models for ethical analysis was the obstacle to integration most often mentioned. Fairness and Equity and values embedded in Principlism were the values most often mentioned in relation to ethical evaluation.
Compared with the scientific experimental paradigm, there are no settled proceedings for ethics in HTA nor consensus on the role of ethical theory and ethical expertise hindering its integration. Our findings enable us to hypothesize that there exists interdependence between the three issues studied in this work and that value judgments could be their linking concept.
The fact that HTA is a value-laden process is recognized in the literature. This is one of the reasons for promoting a better integration of ethics in HTA processes. Although what is meant by value-judgment (VJ) and how it can be used in HTA is not clear for some authors; others have proposed the elicitation of implicit VJs, to make them more explicit, as one way for clarifying the role ethics may play in HTA. In order to clarify what a VJ is, a conceptual analysis is needed to distinguish it from a factual-judgment and see how they diverge on certain aspects and converge on others.
The distinction between VJs and factual-judgments was debated in the fifties. At the core of the philosophy of language was a distinction between factual-scientific assertions about facts, considered objective, and VJs on what is right/wrong-good/bad, considered subjective. In speech-act theory these distinctions were treated as two different operations: assertive and evaluative. A conceptual analysis of VJs, considering them as specific speech-acts, was used for clarifying/deciphering the role of VJs in HTA.
VJs are intrinsically embedded in decision-making since they are the reasons justifying decisions. This is why implicit VJs can be identified at every decision-step in the HTA process. Assessment is usually considered objective while appraisal seems subjective. Since VJs are entrenched in the decisions taken throughout the assessment process, the results are not completely objective. Ethical analysis also distinguishes two types of VJs, those based on normative criteria and those based on various degrees of value actualization. Furthermore, since evaluation requires criteria based on a rational process, VJs are not totally subjective.
Elicitation of VJs in HTA is one way of integrating ethics in HTA and offers decision-makers a more thorough picture of the ethical issues involved in their decision.
Eliciting implicit value-judgments (VJs) in the HTA process is one way of integrating ethics in HTA since the latter is recognized as a value-laden process. An analysis of the diversity of opinions on implicit VJs in HTA and of their role, highlights the connection there exists between VJs and the different decisions involved in the whole HTA process. Such a link is corroborated by a conceptual analysis of VJ using a speech-act philosophical approach grounded in the philosophy of language, since VJs are linked with normative speech-acts such as commands, recommendations and advices.
We propose an analysis of the published citations mentioning VJs, extracted from our systematic review on the challenges of integrating ethics in HTA. In order to do so, those quotes were categorized in a chart, the latter of which presents: (i) the different steps of decision-making in the HTA process, (ii) the description of the implicit VJ(s) and (iii) the criteria involved. This chart was elaborated with the participation of the HTA local evaluators involved as co-investigators in our research group. The final version was discussed, debated and validated by the entire research group.
The chart shows 18 decision-making steps in the HTA process in which twenty-three implicit VJs can be observed. The range of such VJs encompasses the whole HTA process from the initial mandate to the agency presenting the decisional issues, to the dissemination of the final report. The published citations gathered for each category compile different expectations on the elicitation of the implicit VJs, thus making the latter VJs more explicit.
This chart allows a better understanding of the expectations that are at the core of the appeal for more transparency in the HTA process, since stakeholders need to understand which value-judgments the final conclusion of a report is relying on.
One of the barriers of integrating ethics in Health Technology Assessment (HTA) relates to the social role of HTA (1). The aim of this study is to provide a better understanding of the way by which law circumscribes the social role of HTA. Our hypothesis: HTA's social role is embedded within a mixed governance based on hard law and soft law.
Three HTA agencies were conveniently selected for our study: Haute Autorité de santé (HAS) (France), National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) (United Kingdom) and Institut national d'excellence en santé et en services sociaux (INESSS) (Québec, Canada). Our analysis of the legal, administrative and procedural documents relating to the existence and assessment processes of these three agencies is guided by the following criteria:
1. The normative strength of the documents (categories of hard law or soft law) (2)
2. The definition of the agencies’ social role (1)
3. The integration of ethics in the agencies’ mandate.
Hard law contributes to establish a general mandate and some legal legitimacy for these agencies. Soft law, grounded in the HTA producers' practices, plays a major role in the legal governance of HTA. Our results demonstrate that these agencies existing practices seem to circumscribe their social role further than their constitutive laws. In this context, social actors become responsible to define, structure and operationalize the implementation of HTA.
In addition, the legal framework (hard law) through which HTA unfolds does not clearly support its structural and social role. Despite existing legal frameworks, the normative legitimacy of HTA is not entirely established, as it depends on soft law. Taken altogether, this maintains a persisting conceptual vagueness in HTA governance.
The social role of HTA should be defined either through modifying existing legislations (hard law) or through harmonization of the agencies internal policies and regulations (soft law). Such legal initiatives would help clarify the aims of HTA evaluations: assessments (scientific) or appraisal (value-laden), and therefore give a clearer indication on how best to integrate ethics in HTA.
The main difficulties encountered in the integration of ethics in Health Technology Assessment (HTA) were identified in our systematic review. In the process of analyzing these difficulties we then addressed the question of the diversity of ethical approaches (1) and the difficulties in their operationalization (2,3).
Nine ethical approaches were identified: principlism, casuistry, coherence analysis, wide reflexive equilibrium, axiology, socratic approach, triangular method, constructive technology assessment and social shaping of technology. Three criteria were used to clarify the nature of each of these approaches:
1. The characteristics of the ethical evaluation
2. The disciplinary foundation of the ethical evaluation
3. The operational process of the ethical evaluation in HTA analysis.
In HTA, both norm-based ethics and value-based ethics are mobilized. This duality is fundamental since it proposes two different ethical evaluations: the first is based on the conformity to a norm, whereas the second rests on the actualization of values. The disciplinary foundation generates diversity as philosophy, sociology and theology propose different justifications for ethical evaluation. At the operational level, ethical evaluation's characteristics are applied to the case at stake by specific practical reasoning. In a norm-based practical reasoning, one must substantiate the facts that will be correlated to a moral norm for clearly identifying conformity or non-conformity. In value-based practical reasoning, one must identify the impacts of the object of assessment that will be subject to ethical evaluation. Two difficulties arise: how to apply values to facts and prioritize amongst conflicting ethical evaluations of the impacts?
Applying these three criteria to ethical approaches in HTA helps understanding their complexity and the difficulty of operationalizing them in HTA tools. The choice of any ethical evaluations is never neutral; it must be justified by a moral point of view. Developing tools for ethics in HTA is operationalizing a specific practical reasoning in ethics.
The objective was to identify the conceptual and methodological issues surrounding integration of ethics in Health Technology Assessment (HTA). We conducted a systematic review examining: (i) social needs, (ii) methodological and procedural barriers, (iii) concepts or processes of ethics assessment used and (iv) results of experimentations for integrating ethics in HTA.
Search criteria included ‘ethic’, ‘technology assessment’ and ‘HTA’. The literature search was done up to 21 November 2016 in Medline/Ovid, SCOPUS, CINAHL, PsycINFO and international HTA Database. Screening of citations, screening of full-text and data extraction were performed by two subgroups of two independent reviewers. The first group was constituted of HTA experts, and the second of ethics and philosophy experts. Data extracted from articles were regrouped in categories for each objective.
A list of 2,420 citations was obtained while 1,646 remained after the removal of duplicates. Of these, 132 were fully reviewed, yielding 67 eligible articles for analysis. Eight categories were identified within the social needs. The mostly evoked were ‘Informed policy decision making’ (n = 16) and 'Informed public/patient decision making’ (n = 12). Ten categories of methodological and procedural barriers were identified. The most mentioned were 'Lack of standardized and recognized proceedings for ethical analysis’ (n = 28) and ‘Lack of shared consensus on the role of ethical theory and ethical expertise’ (n = 17). Within the concepts or processes of ethics assessment, thirteen categories were identified. The most mentioned were ‘Fairness and Equity’ (n = 12), ‘Beneficence and Non-maleficence’ (n = 10) and, ‘Autonomy’ (n = 10). Within results of experimentations, five categories were identified. The most mentioned was ‘Usefulness of ethics for identifying relevant problems’ (n = 3). While few experimentations were identified, no clear operational method was found in our research.
This study confirms the necessity to design an operational method integrating ethics and addressing social needs of HTA. Our results constitute the basis for developing a new theoretical and practical method.
Bipolar disorder is a highly heritable polygenic disorder. Recent
enrichment analyses suggest that there may be true risk variants for
bipolar disorder in the expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) in the
We sought to assess the impact of eQTL variants on bipolar disorder risk
by combining data from both bipolar disorder genome-wide association
studies (GWAS) and brain eQTL.
To detect single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that influence
expression levels of genes associated with bipolar disorder, we jointly
analysed data from a bipolar disorder GWAS (7481 cases and 9250 controls)
and a genome-wide brain (cortical) eQTL (193 healthy controls) using a
Bayesian statistical method, with independent follow-up replications. The
identified risk SNP was then further tested for association with
hippocampal volume (n = 5775) and cognitive performance
(n = 342) among healthy individuals.
Integrative analysis revealed a significant association between a brain
eQTL rs6088662 on chromosome 20q11.22 and bipolar disorder (log Bayes
factor = 5.48; bipolar disorder P =
5.85×10–5). Follow-up studies across multiple independent
samples confirmed the association of the risk SNP (rs6088662) with gene
expression and bipolar disorder susceptibility (P =
3.54×10–8). Further exploratory analysis revealed that
rs6088662 is also associated with hippocampal volume and cognitive
performance in healthy individuals.
Our findings suggest that 20q11.22 is likely a risk region for bipolar
disorder; they also highlight the informative value of integrating
functional annotation of genetic variants for gene expression in
advancing our understanding of the biological basis underlying complex
disorders, such as bipolar disorder.