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To propose a set of internationally harmonized procedures and methods for assessing neurocognitive functions, smell, taste, mental, and psychosocial health, and other factors in adults formally diagnosed with COVID-19 (confirmed as SARS-CoV-2 + WHO definition).
We formed an international and cross-disciplinary NeuroCOVID Neuropsychology Taskforce in April 2020. Seven criteria were used to guide the selection of the recommendations’ methods and procedures: (i) Relevance to all COVID-19 illness stages and longitudinal study design; (ii) Standard, cross-culturally valid or widely available instruments; (iii) Coverage of both direct and indirect causes of COVID-19-associated neurological and psychiatric symptoms; (iv) Control of factors specifically pertinent to COVID-19 that may affect neuropsychological performance; (v) Flexibility of administration (telehealth, computerized, remote/online, face to face); (vi) Harmonization for facilitating international research; (vii) Ease of translation to clinical practice.
The three proposed levels of harmonization include a screening strategy with telehealth option, a medium-size computerized assessment with an online/remote option, and a comprehensive evaluation with flexible administration. The context in which each harmonization level might be used is described. Issues of assessment timelines, guidance for home/remote assessment to support data fidelity and telehealth considerations, cross-cultural adequacy, norms, and impairment definitions are also described.
The proposed recommendations provide rationale and methodological guidance for neuropsychological research studies and clinical assessment in adults with COVID-19. We expect that the use of the recommendations will facilitate data harmonization and global research. Research implementing the recommendations will be crucial to determine their acceptability, usability, and validity.
Damage to the corticospinal tract (CST) from stroke leads to motor deficits. The damage can be quantified as the amount of overlap between the stroke lesion and CST (CST Injury). Previous literature has shown that the degree of motor deficits post-stroke is related to the amount of CST Injury. These studies delineate the stroke lesion from structural T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, often acquired for research. In Canada, computed tomography (CT) is the most common imaging modality used in routine acute stroke care. In this proof-of-principle study, we determine whether CST Injury, using lesions delineated from CT scans, significantly explains the variability in motor impairment in individuals with stroke.
Thirty-seven participants with stroke were included in this study. These individuals had a CT scan within the acute stage (7 days) of their stroke and underwent motor assessments. Brain images from CT scans were registered to MRI space. We performed a stepwise regression analysis to determine the contribution of CST injury and demographic variables in explaining motor impairment variability.
Using clinically available CT scans, we found modest evidence that CST Injury explains variability in motor impairment (R2adj = 0.12, p = 0.02). None of the participant demographic variables entered the model.
We show for the first time a relationship between CST Injury and motor impairment using CT scans. Further work is required to evaluate the utility of data derived from clinical CT scans as a biomarker of stroke motor recovery.
Introduction: In 2018, Canadian postgraduate specialist Emergency Medicine (EM) programs began implementing a competency-based medical education (CBME) assessment system. To support improvement of this assessment program, we sought to evaluate its short-term educational outcomes nationally and within individual programs. Methods: Program-level data from the 2018 resident cohort were amalgamated and analyzed. The number of Entrustable Professional Activity (EPA) assessments (overall and for each EPA) and the timing of resident promotion through program stages was compared between programs and to the guidelines provided by the national EM specialty committee. Total EPA observations from each program were correlated with the number of EM and pediatric EM rotations. Results: Data from 15 of 17 (88.2%) EM programs containing 9,842 EPA observations from 68 of the 77 (88.3%) Canadian EM specialist residents in the 2018 cohort were analyzed. The average number of EPAs observed per resident in each program varied from 92.5 to 229.6 and correlated strongly with the number of blocks spent on EM and pediatric EM (r = 0.83, p < 0.001). Relative to the guidelines outlined by the specialty committee, residents were promoted later than expected and with fewer EPA observations than suggested. Conclusion: We present a new approach to the amalgamation of national and program-level assessment data. There was demonstrable variation in both EPA-based assessment numbers and promotion timelines between programs and with national guidelines. This evaluation data will inform the revision of local programs and national guidelines and serve as a starting point for further reaching outcome evaluation. This process could be replicated by other national assessment programs.
Introduction: A critical component for successful implementation of any innovation is an organization's readiness for change. Competence by Design (CBD) is the Royal College's major change initiative to reform the training of medical specialists in Canada. The purpose of this study was to measure readiness to implement CBD among the 2019 launch disciplines. Methods: An online survey was distributed to program directors of the 2019 CBD launch disciplines one month prior to implementation. Questions were developed based on the R = MC2 framework for organizational readiness. They addressed program motivation to implement CBD, general capacity for change, and innovation-specific capacity. Questions related to motivation and general capacity were scored using a 5-point scale of agreement. Innovation-specific capacity was measured by asking participants whether they had completed 33 key pre-implementation tasks (yes/no) in preparation for CBD. Bivariate correlations were conducted to examine the relationship between motivation, general capacity and innovation specific capacity. Results: Survey response rate was 42% (n = 79). A positive correlation was found between all three domains of readiness (motivation and general capacity, r = 0.73, p < 0.01; motivation and innovation specific capacity, r = 0.52, p < 0.01; general capacity and innovation specific capacity, r = 0.47, p < 0.01). Most respondents agreed that successful launch of CBD was a priority (74%). Fewer felt that CBD was a move in the right direction (58%) and that implementation was a manageable change (53%). While most programs indicated that their leadership (94%) and faculty and residents (87%) were supportive of change, 42% did not have experience implementing large-scale innovation and 43% indicated concerns about adequate support staff. Programs had completed an average of 72% of pre-implementation tasks. No difference was found between disciplines (p = 0.11). Activities related to curriculum mapping, competence committees and programmatic assessment had been completed by >90% of programs, while <50% of programs had engaged off-service rotations. Conclusion: Measuring readiness for change aids in the identification of factors that promote or inhibit successful implementation. These results highlight several areas where programs struggle in preparation for CBD launch. Emergency medicine training programs can use this data to target additional implementation support and ongoing faculty development initiatives.
Two common approaches to identify subgroups of patients with bipolar disorder are clustering methodology (mixture analysis) based on the age of onset, and a birth cohort analysis. This study investigates if a birth cohort effect will influence the results of clustering on the age of onset, using a large, international database.
The database includes 4037 patients with a diagnosis of bipolar I disorder, previously collected at 36 collection sites in 23 countries. Generalized estimating equations (GEE) were used to adjust the data for country median age, and in some models, birth cohort. Model-based clustering (mixture analysis) was then performed on the age of onset data using the residuals. Clinical variables in subgroups were compared.
There was a strong birth cohort effect. Without adjusting for the birth cohort, three subgroups were found by clustering. After adjusting for the birth cohort or when considering only those born after 1959, two subgroups were found. With results of either two or three subgroups, the youngest subgroup was more likely to have a family history of mood disorders and a first episode with depressed polarity. However, without adjusting for birth cohort (three subgroups), family history and polarity of the first episode could not be distinguished between the middle and oldest subgroups.
These results using international data confirm prior findings using single country data, that there are subgroups of bipolar I disorder based on the age of onset, and that there is a birth cohort effect. Including the birth cohort adjustment altered the number and characteristics of subgroups detected when clustering by age of onset. Further investigation is needed to determine if combining both approaches will identify subgroups that are more useful for research.
Competence committees play a key role in a competency-based system of assessment. These committees are tasked with reviewing and synthesizing clinical performance data to make judgments regarding residents’ competence. Canadian emergency medicine (EM) postgraduate training programs recently implemented competence committees; however, a paucity of literature guides their work.
The objective of this study was to develop consensus-based recommendations to optimize the function and decisions of competence committees in Canadian EM training programs.
Semi-structured interviews of EM competence committee chairs were conducted and analyzed. The interview guide was informed by a literature review of competence committee structure, processes, and best practices. Inductive thematic analysis of interview transcripts was conducted to identify emerging themes. Preliminary recommendations, based on themes, were drafted and presented at the 2019 CAEP Academic Symposium on Education. Through a live presentation and survey poll, symposium attendees representing the national EM community participated in a facilitated discussion of the recommendations. The authors incorporated this feedback and identified consensus among symposium attendees on a final set of nine high-yield recommendations.
The Canadian EM community used a structured process to develop nine best practice recommendations for competence committees addressing: committee membership, meeting processes, decision outcomes, use of high-quality performance data, and ongoing quality improvement. These recommendations can inform the structure and processes of competence committees in Canadian EM training programs.
Germ plasm, a cytoplasmic factor of germline cell differentiation, is suggested to be a perspective tool for in vitro meiotic differentiation. To discriminate between the: (1) germ plasm-related structures (GPRS) involved in meiosis triggering; and (2) GPRS involved in the germ plasm storage phase, we investigated gametogenesis in the marine medaka Oryzias melastigma. The GPRS of the mitosis-to-meiosis period are similar in males and females. In both sexes, five events typically occur: (1) turning of the primary Vasa-positive germ plasm granules into the Vasa-positive intermitochondrial cement (IMC); (2) aggregation of some mitochondria by IMC followed by arising of mitochondrial clusters; (3) intramitochondrial localization of IMC-originated Vasa; followed by (4) mitochondrial cluster degradation; and (5) intranuclear localization of Vasa followed by this protein entering the nuclei (gonial cells) and synaptonemal complexes (zygotene–pachytene meiotic cells). In post-zygotene/pachytene gametogenesis, the GPRS are sex specific; the Vasa-positive chromatoid bodies are found during spermatogenesis, but oogenesis is characterized by secondary arising of Vasa-positive germ plasm granules followed by secondary formation and degradation of mitochondrial clusters. A complex type of germ plasm generation, ‘the follicle cell assigned germ plasm formation’, was found in late oogenesis. The mechanisms discovered are recommended to be taken into account for possible reconstruction of those under in vitro conditions.
Solar coronal dimmings have been observed extensively in the past two decades and are believed to have close association with coronal mass ejections (CMEs). Recent study found that coronal dimming is the only signature that could differentiate powerful flares that have CMEs from those that do not. Therefore, dimming might be one of the best candidates to observe the stellar CMEs on distant Sun-like stars. In this study, we investigate the possibility of using coronal dimming as a proxy to diagnose stellar CMEs. By simulating a realistic solar CME event and corresponding coronal dimming using a global magnetohydrodynamics model (AWSoM: Alfvén-wave Solar Model), we first demonstrate the capability of the model to reproduce solar observations. We then extend the model for simulating stellar CMEs by modifying the input magnetic flux density as well as the initial magnetic energy of the CME flux rope. Our result suggests that with improved instrument sensitivity, it is possible to detect the coronal dimming signals induced by the stellar CMEs.
Introduction: Competence committees (CCs) struggle with incorporating professionalism issues into resident progression decisions. This study examined how professionalism concerns influence individual faculty decisions about resident progression using simulated CC reviews. Methods: In 2017, the investigators conducted a survey of 25 program directors of Royal College emergency medicine residency training programs in Canada and those faculty members who are members of the CCs (or equivalent) at their home institution. The survey contained twelve resident portfolios, each containing formative and summative information available to a CC for making progression decisions. Six portfolios outlined residents progressing as expected and six were not progressing as expected. Further, a professionalism variable (PV) was added to six portfolios, evenly split between those residents progressing as expected and not. Participants were asked to make progression decisions based on each portfolio. Results: Raters were able to consistently identify a resident needing an educational intervention versus those who did not. When a PV was added, the consistency among raters decreased by 34.2% in those residents progressing as expected, versus increasing by 3.8% in those not progressing as expected (p = 0.01). Conclusion: When using an unstructured review of a simulated resident portfolio, individual reviewers can better discriminate between trainees progressing as expected when professionalism concerns are added. Considering this, educators using a competence committee in a CBME program must have a system to acquire and document professionalism issues to make appropriate progress decisions.
Introduction: When a patient is incapable of making medical decisions for themselves, choices are made according to the patient's previously expressed, wishes, values, and beliefs by a substitute decision maker (SDM). While interventions to engage patients in their own advance care planning exist, little is known about public readiness to act as a SDM on behalf of a loved one. This mixed-methods survey aimed to describe attitudes, enablers and barriers to preparedness to act as a SDM, and support for a population-level curriculum on the role of an SDM in end-of-life and resuscitative care. Methods: From November 2017 to June 2018, a mixed-methods street intercept survey was conducted in Ottawa, Canada. Descriptive statistics and logistic regression analysis were used to assess predictors of preparedness to be a SDM and understand support for a high school curriculum. Responses to open-ended questions were analyzed using inductive thematic analysis. Results: The 430 respondents were mostly female (56.5%) with an average age of 33.9. Although 73.0% of respondents felt prepared to be a SDM, 41.0% of those who reported preparedness never had a meaningful conversation with loved ones about their wishes in critical illness. The only predictors of SDM preparedness were the belief that one would be a future SDM (OR 2.36 95% CI 1.34-4.17), and age 50-64 compared to age 16-17 (OR 7.46 95% CI 1.25-44.51). Thematic enablers of preparedness included an understanding of a patient's wishes, the role of the SDM and strong familial relationships. Barriers included cultural norms, family conflict, and a need for time for high stakes decisions. Most respondents (71.9%) believed that 16 year olds should learn about SDMs. They noted age appropriateness, potential developmental and societal benefit, and improved decision making, while cautioning the need for a nuanced approach respectful of different maturity levels, cultures and individual experiences. Conclusion: This study reveals a concerning gap between perceived preparedness and actions taken in preparation to be an SDM for loved ones suffering critical illness. The results also highlight the potential role for high school education to address this gap. Future studies should further explore the themes identified to inform development of resources and curricula for improved health literacy in resuscitation and end-of-life care.
Many studies have identified changes in the brain associated with obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD), but few have examined the relationship between genetic determinants of OCD and brain variation.
We present the first genome-wide investigation of overlapping genetic risk for OCD and genetic influences on subcortical brain structures.
Using single nucleotide polymorphism effect concordance analysis, we measured genetic overlap between the first genome-wide association study (GWAS) of OCD (1465 participants with OCD, 5557 controls) and recent GWASs of eight subcortical brain volumes (13 171 participants).
We found evidence of significant positive concordance between OCD risk variants and variants associated with greater nucleus accumbens and putamen volumes. When conditioning OCD risk variants on brain volume, variants influencing putamen, amygdala and thalamus volumes were associated with risk for OCD.
These results are consistent with current OCD neurocircuitry models. Further evidence will clarify the relationship between putamen volume and OCD risk, and the roles of the detected variants in this disorder.
Declaration of interest
The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
BACKGROUND: Meningiomas are the most common primary benign brain tumors in adults. Given the extended life expectancy of most meningiomas, consideration of quality of life (QOL) is important when selecting the optimal management strategy. There is currently a dearth of meningioma-specific QOL tools in the literature. OBJECTIVE: In this systematic review, we analyze the prevailing themes and propose toward building a meningioma-specific QOL assessment tool. METHODS: A systematic search was conducted, and only original studies based on adult patients were considered. QOL tools used in the various studies were analyzed for identification of prevailing themes in the qualitative analysis. The quality of the studies was also assessed. RESULTS: Sixteen articles met all inclusion criteria. Fifteen different QOL assessment tools assessed social and physical functioning, psychological, and emotional well-being. Patient perceptions and support networks had a major impact on QOL scores. Surgery negatively affected social functioning in younger patients, while radiation therapy had a variable impact. Any intervention appeared to have a greater negative impact on physical functioning compared to observation. CONCLUSION: Younger patients with meningiomas appear to be more vulnerable within social and physical functioning domains. All of these findings must be interpreted with great caution due to great clinical heterogeneity, limited generalizability, and risk of bias. For meningioma patients, the ideal QOL questionnaire would present outcomes that can be easily measured, presented, and compared across studies. Existing scales can be the foundation upon which a comprehensive, standard, and simple meningioma-specific survey can be prospectively developed and validated.
We present the analysis of the 93 ksec Chandra ACIS–S data for the galaxy CGCG 292–057 (z = 0.054), with complex radio structure indicative of the intermittent jet activity. In order to characterize precisely the spectrum of the unresolved low-luminosity active nucleus in the source, we performed detailed MARX/PSF simulations and studied the radial profile of the source region surface brightness. In this way, we have detected an additional X-ray component extending from a few up to ∼10 kpc from the unresolved core, which could be associated with the hot gaseous medium compressed and heated (up to 0.9 keV) by the expanding inner lobes of the radio galaxy. We modeled the X-ray spectrum of the unresolved nucleus assuming various emission models, including an absorbed power-law, a power-law plus thermal emission component, and a two-temperature thermal plasma. The best fit was however obtained assuming a power-law emission scattered by a hot ionized gas, giving rise to the 6.7 keV iron line.
Multiple human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1 genotypes in China were first discovered in Yunnan Province before disseminating throughout the country. As the HIV-1 epidemic continues to expand in Yunnan, genetic characteristics and transmitted drug resistance (TDR) should be further investigated among the recently infected population. Among 2828 HIV-positive samples newly reported in the first quarter of 2014, 347 were identified as recent infections with BED-captured enzyme immunoassay (CEIA). Of them, 291 were successfully genotyped and identified as circulating recombinant form (CRF)08_BC (47.4%), unique recombinant forms (URFs) (18.2%), CRF01_AE (15.8%), CRF07_BC (14.4%), subtype C (2.7%), CRF55_01B (0.7%), subtype B (0.3%) and CRF64_BC (0.3%). CRF08_BC and CRF01_AE were the predominant genotypes among heterosexual and homosexual infections, respectively. CRF08_BC, URFs, CRF01_AE and CRF07_BC expanded with higher prevalence in central and eastern Yunnan. The recent common ancestor of CRF01_AE, CRF07_BC and CRF08_BC dated back to 1983.1, 1992.1 and 1989.5, respectively. The effective population sizes (EPS) for CRF01_AE and CRF07_BC increased exponentially during 1991–1999 and 1994–1999, respectively. The EPS for CRF08_BC underwent two exponential growth phases in 1994–1998 and 2001–2002. Lastly, TDR-associated mutations were identified in 1.8% of individuals. These findings not only enhance our understanding of HIV-1 evolution in Yunnan but also have implications for vaccine design and patient management strategies.
Objectives: To test the hypothesis that brain arterial diameters are associated with cognitive performance, particularly in arteries supplying domain-specific territories. Methods: Stroke-free participants in the Northern Manhattan Study were invited to have a brain MRI from 2003–2008. The luminal diameters of 13 intracranial arterial segments were obtained using time-of-flight magnetic resonance angiogram (MRA), and then averaged and normalized into a global score and region-specific arterial diameters. Z-Scores for executive function, semantic memory, episodic memory and processing speed were obtained at MRI and during follow-up. Adjusted generalized additive models were used to assess for associations. Results: Among the 1034 participants with neurocognitive testing and brain MRI, there were non-linear relationships between left anterior (ACA) and middle cerebral artery (MCA) diameter and semantic memory Z-scores (χ2=10.00; DF=3; p=.019), and left posterior cerebral artery (PCA) and posterior communicating artery (Pcomm) mean diameter and episodic memory Z-scores (χ2=9.88; DF=3; p=.020). Among the 745 participants who returned for 2nd neuropsychological testing, on average 5.0±0.4 years after their MRI, semantic memory change was associated non-linearly with the left PCA/Pcomm mean diameter (χ2=13.09; DF=3; p=.004) and with the right MCA/ACA mean diameter (χ2=8.43; DF=3; p=.03). In both cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses, participants with the larger brain arterial diameters had more consistently lower Z-scores and greater decline than the rest of the participants. Conclusions: Brain arterial diameters may have downstream effects in brain function presenting as poorer cognition. Identifying the mechanisms and the directionality of such interactions may increase the understanding of the vascular contribution to cognitive impairment and dementia. (JINS, 2018, 24, 335–346)
Evidence suggests that autism and schizophrenia share similarities in genetic, neuropsychological and behavioural aspects. Although both disorders are associated with theory of mind (ToM) impairments, a few studies have directly compared ToM between autism patients and schizophrenia patients. This study aimed to investigate to what extent high-functioning autism patients and schizophrenia patients share and differ in ToM performance.
Thirty high-functioning autism patients, 30 schizophrenia patients and 30 healthy individuals were recruited. Participants were matched in age, gender and estimated intelligence quotient. The verbal-based Faux Pas Task and the visual-based Yoni Task were utilised to examine first- and higher-order, affective and cognitive ToM. The task/item difficulty of two paradigms was examined using mixed model analyses of variance (ANOVAs). Multiple ANOVAs and mixed model ANOVAs were used to examine group differences in ToM.
The Faux Pas Task was more difficult than the Yoni Task. High-functioning autism patients showed more severely impaired verbal-based ToM in the Faux Pas Task, but shared similar visual-based ToM impairments in the Yoni Task with schizophrenia patients.
The findings that individuals with high-functioning autism shared similar but more severe impairments in verbal ToM than individuals with schizophrenia support the autism–schizophrenia continuum. The finding that verbal-based but not visual-based ToM was more impaired in high-functioning autism patients than schizophrenia patients could be attributable to the varied task/item difficulty between the two paradigms.
Throat swabs are neither specific nor sensitive for micro-bacteria causing sore throat symptoms; however, current guidelines suggest they are still useful in some cases.
Retrospective and prospective analyses were conducted of throat swabs requested within the months of January 2016 and August 2016, respectively.
The study comprised 247 patients. Fifty-nine (24 per cent) had a positive culture. Forty-six grew group A beta-haemolytic streptococci, with the remainder growing candida (n = 10), coliform (n = 1) and klebsiella (n = 2). There was no significant difference in culture rates between primary or secondary care sources (χ2 = 0.56, p = 0.45). None of the swabs influenced a variation in patient management from local antimicrobial policies. Current practice has an estimated annual financial impact of £3 434 340 on the National Health Service.
Throat swabs do not influence the antimicrobial treatment for patients with sore throats, even under current guidelines, and incur unnecessary cost. Current clinical guidelines could be reviewed to reduce the number of throat swabs being conducted unnecessarily.