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Auditory Verbal Hallucinations (AVH) are a hallmark of psychosis, but affect many other clinical populations. Patients’ understanding and self-management of AVH may differ between diagnostic groups, change over time, and influence clinical outcomes.
We aimed to explore patients’ understanding and self-management of AVH in a young adult clinical population.
35 participants reporting frequent AVH were purposively sampled from a youth mental health service, to capture experiences across psychosis and non-psychosis diagnoses. Diary and photo-elicitation methodologies were used – participants were asked to complete diaries documenting experiences of AVH, and to take photographs representing these experiences. In-depth, unstructured interviews were held, using participant-produced materials as a topic guide. Conventional content analysis was conducted, deriving results from the data in the form of themes.
Three themes emerged:
(1) Searching for answers, forming identities – voice-hearers sought to explain their experiences, resulting in the construction of identities for voices, and descriptions of relationships with them. These identities were drawn from participants’ life-stories (e.g., reflecting trauma), and belief-systems (e.g., reflecting supernatural beliefs, or mental illness). Some described this process as active / volitional. Participants described re-defining their own identities in relation to those constructed for AVH (e.g. as diseased, 'chosen', or persecuted), others considered AVH explicitly as aspects of, or changes in, their personality.
(2) Coping strategies and goals – patients’ self-management strategies were diverse, reflecting the diverse negative experiences of AVH. Strategies were related to a smaller number of goals, e.g. distraction, soothing overwhelming emotions, 'reality-checking', and retaining agency.
(3) Outlook – participants formed an overall outlook reflecting their self-efficacy in managing AVH. Resignation and hopelessness in connection with disabling AVH are contrasted with outlooks of “acceptance” or integration, which were described as positive, ideal, or mature.
Trans-diagnostic commonalities in understanding and self-management of AVH are highlighted - answer-seeking and identity-formation processes; a diversity of coping strategies and goals; and striving to accept the symptom. Descriptions of “voices-as-self”, and dysfunctional relationships with AVH, could represent specific features of voice-hearing in personality disorder, whereas certain supernatural/paranormal identities and explanations were clearly delusional. However, no aspect of identity-formation was completely unique to psychosis or non-psychosis diagnostic groups. The identity-formation process, coping strategies, and outlooks can be seen as a framework both for individual therapies and further research.
Psychosis is a major mental illness with first onset in young adults. The prognosis is poor in around half of the people affected, and difficult to predict. The few tools available to predict prognosis have major weaknesses which limit their use in clinical practice. We aimed to develop and validate a risk prediction model of symptom non-remission in first-episode psychosis.
Our development cohort consisted of 1027 patients with first-episode psychosis recruited between 2005 to 2010 from 14 early intervention services across the National Health Service in England. Our validation cohort consisted of 399 patients with first-episode psychosis recruited between 2006 to 2009 from a further 11 English early intervention services. The one-year non-remission rate was 52% and 54% in the development and validation cohorts, respectively. Multivariable logistic regression was used to develop a risk prediction model for non-remission, which was externally validated.
The prediction model showed good discrimination (C-statistic of 0.74 (0.72, 0.76) and adequate calibration with intercept alpha of 0.13 (0.03, 0.23) and slope beta of 0.99 (0.87, 1.12). Our model improved the net-benefit by 16% at a risk threshold of 50%, equivalent to 16 more detected non-remitted first-episode psychosis individuals per 100 without incorrectly classifying remitted cases.
Once prospectively validated, our first episode psychosis prediction model could help identify patients at increased risk of non-remission at initial clinical contact.
Depression in schizophrenia predicts poor outcomes, including suicide, yet the effectiveness of antidepressants for its treatment remains uncertain.
To synthesise the evidence of the effectiveness of antidepressants for the treatment of depression in schizophrenia.
Multiple databases Were searched and inclusion Criteria included participants aged over 18 years with schizophrenia or related psychosis with a depressive episode. Papers were quality assessed used the Cochrane risk bias tool. Meta-analyses were performed for risk difference and standardised mean difference of all antidepressants, antidepressant class and individual antidepressant where sufficient studies allowed.
A total of 26 moderate- to low-quality trials met inclusion criteria. In meta-analysis a significant risk difference was found in favour of antidepressant treatment, with a number needed to treat of 5 (95% CI 4–9). Studies using tools specifically designed to assess depression in schizophrenia showed a larger effect size. However, after sensitivity analysis standardised mean difference of all antidepressants did not show a statistically significant improvement in depression score at end-point, neither did any individual antidepressant class.
Antidepressants may be effective for the treatment of depression in schizophrenia, however, the evidence is mixed and conclusions must be qualified by the small number of low- or moderate-quality studies. Further sufficiently powered, high-quality studies are needed.