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Brain in Hand (BIH) is a UK-based digital self-support system for managing anxiety and social functioning.
To identify the impact of BIH on the psychological and social functioning of adults with autism.
Adults with diagnosed or suspected DSM-5 (level 1) autism, identified by seven NHS autism services in England and Wales, were recruited for a 12-week prospective mixed-methods cohort study. The primary quantitative outcome measures were the Health of the Nation Outcome Scales for People with Learning Disabilities (HONOS-LD) and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS). Fisher's exact test explored sociodemographic associations. Paired t-test was utilised for pre–post analysis of overall effectiveness of BIH. Multivariable linear regression models, univariable pre–post analysis, Wilcoxon signed-rank test, logistic regression analysis, Bonferroni correction and normative analysis were used to give confidence in changes identified. A thematic analysis of semi-structured exist interviews following Braun and Clarke's six-step process of 10% of participants who completed the study was undertaken.
Sixty-six of 99 participants completed the study. There was significant reduction in mean HONOS-LD scores, with 0.65 s.d. decrease in those who used BIH for 12 weeks. Significant positive changes were identified in HONOS-LD subdomains of ‘self-injurious behaviours’, ‘memory and orientation’, ‘communication problems in understanding’, ‘occupation and activities’ and ‘problems with relationship’. A significant reduction in the anxiety, but not depression, component of the HADS scores was identified. Thematic analysis showed high confidence in BIH.
BIH improved anxiety and other clinical, social and functioning outcomes of adults with autism.
The draft Mental Health Bill, which amends the Mental Health Act 1983 for England and Wales, proposes protections for people with intellectual disability and/or autism (ID/A) to prevent detention in hospital in the absence of mental illness. This editorial critically appraises the positive impact and unintended consequences of the proposed reforms for people with ID/A.
An area of interest presently is the lingering symptoms after COVID-19, i.e. post-COVID-19 syndrome (PCS). Specifics of diagnosis and management of PCS are emerging. However, vulnerable populations such as those with intellectual disabilities, who were disproportionately affected by the pandemic, risk being ‘left behind’ from these considerations.
There has been an increase in the development and application of serious games to support management of mental ill health, but their full impact is unclear.
Evaluation of the current evidence of acceptability and effectiveness of serious games in improving mental health disorders.
A PRISMA-guided scoping review was conducted, using a predefined criteria and a relevant word combination on three databases: EMBASE, Medline and PsycINFO. Each included study was examined for game format, study type, number of participants, basic demographics, disorder targeted, recruitment, setting, control conditions, duration and follow-up, study attrition, primary outcomes and their results. Each study was given a Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluations rating for quality.
Fourteen out of 513 studies met the inclusion criteria. The serious games focused on symptoms of anxiety (n = 4), attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (n = 3), depression (n = 2), schizophrenia (n = 2), alcohol use disorder (n = 2) and bipolar disorder (n = 1). There were multiple significant outcomes favouring serious games across conditions covered in the review. Study quality varied, with studies rated high (n = 3), moderate (n = 6), low (n = 3) and very low (n = 2).
The available evidence suggests that serious games could be an effective format for an intervention to reduce mental health symptoms and improve outcomes of individuals. Better designed studies would further develop confidence in this area. This is a potential vehicle of change to deliver some of the much-needed psychiatric support to both economically developed and developing regions in a resource-utilitarian manner. Partnerships between the gaming industry, researchers and health services may benefit patients.
There appears to be no research to date investigating patients’ preferences for sociocultural characteristics or behavioural qualities of psychiatrists. We aimed to assess which are most important to patients. Patients (132) in community mental health teams across two sites (East Cornwall, East London) completed a questionnaire ranking the importance of different sociocultural characteristics and behaviours of psychiatrists.
Patients cared more about age and gender than other characteristics. Four preferences (from a choice of ten) regarding behavioural qualities were clearly identified as important: explaining things clearly, dedication to personal treatment, being friendly and polite, and being up to date with medical knowledge.
Patients are fairly unconcerned about the age, gender, religion and social background of psychiatrists. Characteristics they care about most include communication skills, competence, dedication to personal treatment and friendliness. Explaining things clearly is particularly important. This indicates specific areas of improvement for training and further research.
Rapid spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has affected people with intellectual disability disproportionately. Existing data does not provide enough information to understand factors associated with increased deaths in those with intellectual disability. Establishing who is at high risk is important in developing prevention strategies, given risk factors or comorbidities in people with intellectual disability may be different to those in the general population.
To identify comorbidities, demographic and clinical factors of those individuals with intellectual disability who have died from COVID-19.
An observational descriptive case series looking at deaths because of COVID-19 in people with intellectual disability was conducted. Along with established risk factors observed in the general population, possible specific risk factors and comorbidities in people with intellectual disability for deaths related to COVID-19 were examined. Comparisons between mild and moderate-to-profound intellectual disability subcohorts were undertaken.
Data on 66 deaths in individuals with intellectual disability were analysed. This group was younger (mean age 64 years) compared with the age of death in the general population because of COVID-19. High rates of moderate-to-profound intellectual disability (n = 43), epilepsy (n = 29), mental illness (n = 29), dysphagia (n = 23), Down syndrome (n = 20) and dementia (n = 15) were observed.
This is the first study exploring associations between possible risk factors and comorbidities found in COVID-19 deaths in people with intellectual disability. Our data provides insight into possible factors for deaths in people with intellectual disability. Some of the factors varied between the mild and moderate-to-profound intellectual disability groups. This highlights an urgent need for further systemic inquiry and study of the possible cumulative impact of these factors and comorbidities given the possibility of COVID-19 resurgence.
There has been a recent rise in antidepressant prescriptions. After the episode for which it was prescribed, the patient should ideally be supported in withdrawing the medication. There is increasing evidence for withdrawal symptoms (sometimes called discontinuation symptoms) occurring on ceasing treatment, sometimes having severe or prolonged effects.
To identify and compare current knowledge, attitudes and practices of general practitioners (GPs) and psychiatrists in Cornwall, UK, concerning antidepressant withdrawal symptoms.
Questions about withdrawal symptoms and management were asked of GPs and psychiatrists in a multiple-choice cross-sectional study co-designed with a lived experience expert.
Psychiatrists thought that withdrawal symptoms were more severe than GPs did (P = 0.003); 53% (22/42) of GPs and 69% (18/26) of psychiatrists thought that withdrawal symptoms typically last between 1 and 4 weeks, although there was a wide range of answers given; 35% (9/26) of psychiatrists but no GPs identified a pharmacist as someone they may use to help manage antidepressant withdrawal. About three-quarters of respondents claimed they usually or always informed patients of potential withdrawal symptoms when they started a patient on antidepressants, but patient surveys say only 1% are warned.
Psychiatrists and GPs need to effectively warn patients of potential withdrawal effects. Community pharmacists might be useful in supporting GP-managed antidepressant withdrawal. The wide variation in responses to most questions posed to participants reflects the variation in results of research on the topic. This highlights a need for more reproducible studies to be carried out on antidepressant withdrawal, which could inform future guidelines.
Public health strategies have focused largely on physical health. However, there is increasing recognition that raising mental health awareness and tackling stigma is crucial to reduce disease burden. National campaigns have had some success but tackling issues locally is particularly important.
To assess the public's awareness and perception of the monthly BBC Cornwall mental health phone-in programmes that have run for 8.5 years in Cornwall, UK (population 530 000).
A consultation, review and feedback process involving a multiagency forum of mental and public health professionals, people with lived experience and local National Health Service trust's media team was used to develop a brief questionnaire. This was offered to all attendees at two local pharmacies covering populations of 27 000 over a 2-week period.
In total, 14% (95% CI 11.9–16.5) were aware of the radio show, 11% (95% CI 9.0–13.1) have listened and the majority (76%) of those who listened did so more than once. The estimated reach is 70 000 people in the local population, of whom approximately 60 000 listen regularly. The show is highly valued among respondents with modal and median scores of 4 out of 5.
Local radio is a successful, cost-effective and impactful way to reach a significant proportion of the population and likely to raise awareness, reduce stigma and be well received. The format has been adopted in other regions thus demonstrating easy transferability. It could form an essential part of a public health strategy to improve a population's mental well-being.
Declaration of interest
W.H. received support from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) for the South West Peninsula UK. The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health. L.R. and D.S. were involved in delivering the programmes but had no role in their evaluation.
Obesity is a major challenge for people with schizophrenia.
We assessed whether STEPWISE, a theory-based, group structured lifestyle education programme could support weight reduction in people with schizophrenia.
In this randomised controlled trial (study registration: ISRCTN19447796), we recruited adults with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder or first-episode psychosis from ten mental health organisations in England. Participants were randomly allocated to the STEPWISE intervention or treatment as usual. The 12-month intervention comprised four 2.5 h weekly group sessions, followed by 2-weekly maintenance contact and group sessions at 4, 7 and 10 months. The primary outcome was weight change after 12 months. Key secondary outcomes included diet, physical activity, biomedical measures and patient-related outcome measures. Cost-effectiveness was assessed and a mixed-methods process evaluation was included.
Between 10 March 2015 and 31 March 2016, we recruited 414 people (intervention 208, usual care 206) with 341 (84.4%) participants completing the trial. At 12 months, weight reduction did not differ between groups (mean difference 0.0 kg, 95% CI −1.6 to 1.7, P = 0.963); physical activity, dietary intake and biochemical measures were unchanged. STEPWISE was well-received by participants and facilitators. The healthcare perspective incremental cost-effectiveness ratio was £246 921 per quality-adjusted life-year gained.
Participants were successfully recruited and retained, indicating a strong interest in weight interventions; however, the STEPWISE intervention was neither clinically nor cost-effective. Further research is needed to determine how to manage overweight and obesity in people with schizophrenia.
Declaration of interest
R.I.G.H. received fees for lecturing, consultancy work and attendance at conferences from the following: Boehringer Ingelheim, Eli Lilly, Janssen, Lundbeck, Novo Nordisk, Novartis, Otsuka, Sanofi, Sunovion, Takeda, MSD. M.J.D. reports personal fees from Novo Nordisk, Sanofi-Aventis, Lilly, Merck Sharp & Dohme, Boehringer Ingelheim, AstraZeneca, Janssen, Servier, Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation, Takeda Pharmaceuticals International Inc.; and, grants from Novo Nordisk, Sanofi-Aventis, Lilly, Boehringer Ingelheim, Janssen. K.K. has received fees for consultancy and speaker for Novartis, Novo Nordisk, Sanofi-Aventis, Lilly, Servier and Merck Sharp & Dohme. He has received grants in support of investigator and investigator-initiated trials from Novartis, Novo Nordisk, Sanofi-Aventis, Lilly, Pfizer, Boehringer Ingelheim and Merck Sharp & Dohme. K.K. has received funds for research, honoraria for speaking at meetings and has served on advisory boards for Lilly, Sanofi-Aventis, Merck Sharp & Dohme and Novo Nordisk. D.Sh. is expert advisor to the NICE Centre for guidelines; board member of the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health (NCCMH); clinical advisor (paid consultancy basis) to National Clinical Audit of Psychosis (NCAP); views are personal and not those of NICE, NCCMH or NCAP. J.P. received personal fees for involvement in the study from a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) grant. M.E.C. and Y.D. report grants from NIHR Health Technology Assessment, during the conduct of the study; and The Leicester Diabetes Centre, an organisation (employer) jointly hosted by an NHS Hospital Trust and the University of Leicester and who is holder (through the University of Leicester) of the copyright of the STEPWISE programme and of the DESMOND suite of programmes, training and intervention fidelity framework that were used in this study. S.R. has received honorarium from Lundbeck for lecturing. F.G. reports personal fees from Otsuka and Lundbeck, personal fees and non-financial support from Sunovion, outside the submitted work; and has a family member with professional links to Lilly and GSK, including shares. F.G. is in part funded by the National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research & Care Funding scheme, by the Maudsley Charity and by the Stanley Medical Research Institute and is supported by the by the Biomedical Research Centre at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and King's College London.
Mental health services in the UK National Health Service have evolved to include primary-care generalist, secondary-care generalist and secondary-care specialist services. We argue that there continues to be an important role for the secondary-care generalists as they minimise interfaces, can live with diagnostic uncertainty and support continuity of care. The lack of commissioning and clinical boundaries in secondary-care generalist services can undermine their feasibility, leading to difficulties recruiting and retaining staff. There is a risk of a polo-mint service, where the specialist services on the edge are well resourced, but the secondary-care generalist services taking the greatest burden struggle to recruit and retain clinicians. We need to establish equity in resources and expectations between generalist and specialist mental health services.
Community mental health services in the UK have struggled to measure the clinical effectiveness of their services.
To measure clinical outcomes for different diagnostic clusters.
Clinicians measure the clinical status of patients by the Health of the Nation Outcome Scales (HoNOS), and HoNOS scores should be recorded annually after treatment. Clinical outcomes were measured by changes in HoNOS for diagnostic clusters.
In two time periods (2014 and 2016), the health of patients with mild to moderate common mental disorders deteriorated after intervention. Patients with severe common mental disorders and psychoses improved in their clinical status.
British community mental health teams may be effective in improving the clinical status of people with severe mental illness, but may have a negative effect on people with mild to moderate illnesses. These teams need to focus on the severely mentally ill and build on this demonstrable effectiveness.
To investigate in-patient satisfaction with psychiatrists, comparing National Health Service (NHS) trusts with sector consultants against NHS trusts with separate in-patient and community consultants (the functional model). The Care Quality Commission's in-patient survey was used, comparing mean scores on four questions concerning patient satisfaction with consultants.
Patients scored higher for being treated with respect in trusts with sector consultants. In questions concerning trust, being listened to and getting adequate time, patient satisfaction scores were again higher for sector consultants, but did not reach 5% significance.
Moving to a split between in-patient and community consultants may reduce in-patient satisfaction with care. The continuity of care with sector-based consultants may be a factor in greater in-patient satisfaction.
There is an increasing requirement for mental health services to demonstrate the quality of care provided. We have developed a quality report of our local community mental health team in Cornwall and suggest quality measures that we believe are useful to patients and clinicians, and possible to implement without overwhelming busy team members. They include measures of satisfaction, accessibility, safe process and review, outcomes, evidence-based practice and staff performance. Different teams may need different standards but we hope this paper will stimulate discussion and debate.
Psychiatry is a branch of medicine, and medicine has its roots in scientific empiricism. Scientific modernism, a product of the Enlightenment, has come under considerable fire from critics, often labelled as postmodern (Muir Gray, 1999; Bracken & Thomas, 2001; Laugharne, 2002). These criticisms include a portrayal of science as a ‘grand narrative’ that reduces reality to a material, measurable world, which follows rational rules, and excludes the non-measurable and non-material. The idea of the objective observer is questioned, because all observers have some interest in what is being observed. Also, multiple views of reality are seen as necessary to understand different perspectives, and the idea that scientific knowledge should ‘trump’ other forms of experience is criticised. This has been described by Bracken in the following way.
‘But don't they get lost?’ This is usually the first comment made when the authors mention the use of patient-held records (PHRs) to colleagues. Nevertheless, PHRs have been used in mental health care as well as several other settings, including services for diabetes, cancer, maternity and child health. In some of these services, including mental health, PHRs have been an addition to clinician held standard notes, whereas in others the patient holds the only record for their care. The main purposes of introducing PHRs have been to empower patients with a sense of ownership of their care and to improve communication, between both patients and clinicians, as well as between different clinicians involved in that person's care (Laugharne & Stafford, 1996).
Working in general psychiatry requires us to live with tensions. We have to live with the tension between the paternalism of compulsory admissions and advocating the autonomy and rights of people with a mental illness. A further tension is exacerbated by two movements of recent years, evidence-based medicine and user involvement. These are broadly to be welcomed, but will ultimately bring psychiatry further into the conflict between the ‘modern’ and ‘post-modern’ views of the world.
During March 1998 we had the privilege of visiting the mental health services in Kumasi, Ghana at the invitation of Dr Yaw Osei, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Behavioural Sciences, School of Medical Sciences, University of Science and Technology.
A client held record for patients with long-term mental illness was introduced by a community mental health team in east London. The record was evaluated by asking the opinions of 45 patients and examining how their client record had been used. Over 80% of the patients found the record and the information it contained useful, 74% of contacts were recorded in the booklet and the client held record had begun to be used by many professionals for purposes other than appointments and medication. A client held record can increase patient involvement in care and help communication between professionals.