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Dedicated otolaryngology high dependency units are uncommon. This paper reports the first experiences of such a facility in the UK, assessing reason for admission, duration of stay, occupancy rate and need for care escalation. The study sought to assess the presence of similar units in the UK.
A retrospective review of high dependency unit admissions over an 18-month period and a national survey of otolaryngology departments in the UK were conducted to establish the overall presence and location of similar high dependency units.
A total of 128 patients were admitted during the study period, mainly following surgery and because of airway compromise. The average duration of stay was 2–3 days (range, 1–12 days). The occupancy rate was 31.7 per cent. No patients required their care to be escalated to the intensive care unit. Seven similar high dependency units were identified in the UK.
The care provided prevented the need for escalation of care to an intensive care unit. This challenges the need for patient management on intensive care units following major surgery or airway compromise for those not requiring assisted ventilation. High dependency units similar to ours are not widespread.
Prosocial emotions related to self-blame are important in guiding human altruistic decisions. These emotions are elevated in major depressive disorder (MDD), such that MDD has been associated with guilt-driven pathological hyper-altruism. However, the impact of such emotional impairments in MDD on different types of social decision-making is unknown.
In order to address this issue, we investigated different kinds of altruistic behaviour (interpersonal cooperation and fund allocation, altruistic punishment and charitable donation) in 33 healthy subjects, 35 patients in full remission (unmedicated) and 24 currently depressed patients (11 on medication) using behavioural-economical paradigms.
We show a significant main effect of clinical status on altruistic decisions (p = 0.04) and a significant interaction between clinical status and type of altruistic decisions (p = 0.03). More specifically, symptomatic patients defected significantly more in the Prisoner's Dilemma game (p < 0.05) and made significantly lower charitable donations, whether or not these incurred a personal cost (p < 0.05 and p < 0.01, respectively). Currently depressed patients also reported significantly higher guilt elicited by receiving unfair financial offers in the Ultimatum Game (p < 0.05).
Currently depressed individuals were less altruistic in both a charitable donation and an interpersonal cooperation task. Taken together, our results challenge the guilt-driven pathological hyper-altruism hypothesis in depression. There were also differences in both current and remitted patients in the relationship between altruistic behaviour and pathological self-blaming, suggesting an important role for these emotions in moral and social decision-making abnormalities in depression.
Major depressive disorder (MDD) is associated with abnormalities in financial reward processing. Previous research suggests that patients with MDD show reduced sensitivity to frequency of financial rewards. However, there is a lack of conclusive evidence from studies investigating the evaluation of financial rewards over time, an important aspect of reward processing that influences the way people plan long-term investments. Beck's cognitive model posits that patients with MDD hold a negative view of the future that may influence the amount of resources patients are willing to invest into their future selves.
We administered a delay discounting task to 82 participants: 29 healthy controls, 29 unmedicated participants with fully remitted MDD (rMDD) and 24 participants with current MDD (11 on medication).
Patients with current MDD, relative to remitted patients and healthy subjects, discounted large-sized future rewards at a significantly higher rate and were insensitive to changes in reward size from medium to large. There was a main effect of clinical group on discounting rates for large-sized rewards, and discounting rates for large-sized rewards correlated with severity of depressive symptoms, particularly hopelessness.
Higher discounting of delayed rewards in MDD seems to be state dependent and may be a reflection of depressive symptoms, specifically hopelessness. Discounting distant rewards at a higher rate means that patients are more likely to choose immediate financial options. Such impairments related to long-term investment planning may be important for understanding value-based decision making in MDD, and contribute to ongoing functional impairment.