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The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionally affected the mental health of health and social care workers (HSCWs), with many experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. Psychological interventions have been offered via mental health services and in-house psychology teams, but their effectiveness in this context is not well documented.
To evaluate a stepped-care psychological support pathway for HSCWs from Homerton Healthcare Foundation Trust in London, which offered psychological first aid, evidence-based psychological therapies and group-based well-being workshops.
The service evaluation used a pre–post approach to assess depression, anxiety, functional impairment and post-traumatic stress disorder symptom change for those who attended sessions of psychological first aid, low- or high-intensity cognitive–behavioural therapy or a combination of these. In addition, the acceptability of the psychological first aid sessions and well-being workshops was explored via feedback data.
Across all interventions, statistically significant reductions of depression (d = 1.33), anxiety (d = 1.37) and functional impairment (d = 0.93) were observed, and these reductions were equivalent between the interventions, as well as the demographic and occupational differences between the HSCWs (ethnicity, staff group and redeployment status). HSCWs were highly satisfied with the psychological first aid and well-being workshops.
The evaluation supports the utility of evidence-based interventions delivered as part of a stepped-care pathway for HSCWs with common mental health problems in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the novel integration of psychological first aid within the stepped-care model as a step one intervention, replication and further testing in larger-scale studies is warranted.
Since 2008, the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme has offered adults in England evidence-based psychological treatments for common mental disorders (CMDs) such as depression and anxiety disorders. However, inequalities in access have not been explored at the national level.
Using a unique individual patient dataset that linked 2011 Census information of English residents to national IAPT data collected between April 2017 and March 2018, we estimated the rate of access by a wide range of socio-demographic characteristics that are not routinely available. A large household survey was used to estimate the prevalence of probable CMDs by these socio-demographic characteristics. We estimated the probability of access to IAPT amongst people with CMDs by comparing the rates of access from IAPT data and the estimates of prevalence of CMDs from the household survey. Both unadjusted and adjusted (for important patient characteristics) access rates were estimated in logistic regression models.
As a proportion of those with a probable CMD, access to IAPT varied markedly by socio-demographic characteristics. Older adults, males, people born outside of the UK, people with religious beliefs, people from Asian ethnic backgrounds, people reporting a disability and those without any academic or professional qualifications were underrepresented in IAPT services nationally, in adjusted models.
The identification of patients who may be underrepresented in IAPT provides an opportunity for services to target outreach and engagement with these groups. Further understanding of barriers to access should help increase equity in access.
Cognitive stimulation therapy (CST) is the only non-pharmacological, treatment for dementia recommended by the UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, following multiple international trials demonstrating beneficial cognitive outcomes in people with mild-to-moderate dementia. However, there is limited understanding of whether treatment prognosis is influenced by sociodemographic and clinical variables (such as dementia subtype and gender), information which could inform clinical decision-making.
We describe the protocol for a systematic review and individual patient data meta-analysis assessing the prognostic factors related to CST. In publishing this protocol, we hope to increase the transparency of our work, and keep healthcare professionals aware of the latest evidence for effective CST.
A systematic review will be conducted with searches of the bibliographic databases Medline, EMBASE and PsycINFO, from inception to 7 February 2023. Studies will be included if they are clinical trials of CST, use the Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale – Cognitive Subscale (gold-standard measure of cognition in dementia in clinical trials) and include participants with mild-to-moderate dementia. Following harmonisation of the data-set, mixed-effect models will be constructed to explore the relationship between the prognostic indicators and change scores post-treatment.
This is the first individual patient data meta-analyses on CST, and has the potential to significantly optimise patient care. Previous analyses suggest people with advanced dementia could benefit more from CST treatment. Given that CST is currently used post-diagnosis in people with mild-to-moderate dementia, the implications of confirming this finding, among identifying other prognostic indicators, are profound.
The transition to university and resultant social support network disruption can be detrimental to the mental health of university students. As the need for mental health support is becoming increasingly prevalent in students, identification of factors associated with poorer outcomes is a priority. Changes in social functioning have a bi-directional relationship with mental health, however it is not clear how such measures may be related to effectiveness of psychological treatments.
Growth mixture models were estimated on a sample of 5221 students treated in routine mental health services to identify different trajectories of change in self-rated impairment in social leisure activities and close relationships during the course of treatment. Multinomial regression explored associations between trajectory classes and treatment outcomes.
Five trajectory classes were identified for social leisure activity impairment while three classes were identified for close relationship impairment. In both measures most students remained mildly impaired. Other trajectories included severe impairment with limited improvement, severe impairment with delayed improvement, and, in social leisure activities only, rapid improvement, and deterioration. Trajectories of improvement were associated with positive treatment outcomes while trajectories of worsening or stable severe impairment were associated with negative treatment outcomes.
Changes in social functioning impairment are associated with psychological treatment outcomes in students, suggesting that these changes may be associated with treatment effectiveness as well as recovery experiences. Future research should seek to establish whether a causal link exists to understand whether integrating social support within psychological treatment may bring additional benefit for students.
There is substantial variation in patient symptoms following psychological therapy for depression and anxiety. However, reliance on endpoint outcomes ignores additional interindividual variation during therapy. Knowing a patient's likely symptom trajectories could guide clinical decisions. We aimed to identify latent classes of patients with similar symptom trajectories over the course of psychological therapy and explore associations between baseline variables and trajectory class.
Patients received high-intensity psychological treatment for common mental health problems at National Health Service Improving Access to Psychological Therapies services in South London (N = 16 258). To identify trajectories, we performed growth mixture modelling of depression and anxiety symptoms over 11 sessions. We then ran multinomial regressions to identify baseline variables associated with trajectory class membership.
Trajectories of depression and anxiety symptoms were highly similar and best modelled by four classes. Three classes started with moderate-severe symptoms and showed (1) no change, (2) gradual improvement, and (3) fast improvement. A final class (4) showed initially mild symptoms and minimal improvement. Within the moderate-severe baseline symptom classes, patients in the two showing improvement as opposed to no change tended not to be prescribed psychotropic medication or report a disability and were in employment. Patients showing fast improvement additionally reported lower baseline functional impairment on average.
Multiple trajectory classes of depression and anxiety symptoms were associated with baseline characteristics. Identifying the most likely trajectory for a patient at the start of treatment could inform decisions about the suitability and continuation of therapy, ultimately improving patient outcomes.
Depression is an important, potentially modifiable dementia risk factor. However, it is not known whether effective treatment of depression through psychological therapies is associated with reduced dementia incidence. The aim of this study was to investigate associations between reduction in depressive symptoms following psychological therapy and the subsequent incidence of dementia.
National psychological therapy data were linked with hospital records of dementia diagnosis for 119808 people aged 65+. Participants received a course of psychological therapy treatment in Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services between 2012 and 2019. Cox proportional hazards models were run to test associations between improvement in depression following psychological therapy and incidence of dementia diagnosis up to eight years later.
Improvements in depression following treatment were associated with reduced rates of dementia diagnosis up to 8 years later (HR = 0.88, 95% CI 0.83–0.94), after adjustment for key covariates. Strongest effects were observed for vascular dementia (HR = 0.86, 95% CI 0.77–0.97) compared with Alzheimer's disease (HR = 0.91, 95% CI 0.83–1.00).
Reliable improvement in depression across psychological therapy was associated with reduced incidence of future dementia. Results are consistent with at least two possibilities. Firstly, psychological interventions to improve symptoms of depression may have the potential to contribute to dementia risk reduction efforts. Secondly, psychological therapies may be less effective in people with underlying dementia pathology or they may be more likely to drop out of therapy (reverse causality). Tackling the under-representation of older people in psychological therapies and optimizing therapy outcomes is an important goal for future research.
To determine: whether young adults (aged 18–24) not in education, employment or training (NEET) have different psychological treatment outcomes to other young adults; any socio-demographic or treatment-related moderators of differential outcomes; and whether service-level changes are associated with better outcomes for those who are NEET.
A cohort was formed of 20 293 young adults treated with psychological therapies in eight Improving Access to Psychological Therapies services. Pre-treatment characteristics, outcomes, and moderators of differential outcomes were compared for those who were and were not NEET. Associations between outcomes and the following were assessed for those that were NEET: missing fewer sessions, attending more sessions, having a recorded diagnosis, and waiting fewer days between referral and starting treatment.
Those who were NEET had worse outcomes: odds ratio (OR) [95% confidence interval (CI)] for reliable recovery = 0.68 (0.63–0.74), for deterioration = 1.41 (1.25–1.60), and for attrition = 1.31 (1.19–1.43). Ethnic minority participants that were NEET had better outcomes than those that were White and NEET. Living in deprived areas was associated with worse outcomes. The intensity of treatment (high or low) did not moderate outcomes, but having more sessions was associated with improved outcomes for those that were NEET: odds (per one-session increase) of reliable recovery = 1.10 (1.08–1.12), deterioration = 0.94 (0.91–0.98), and attrition = 0.68 (0.66–0.71).
Earlier treatment, supporting those that are NEET to attend sessions, and in particular, offering them more sessions before ending treatment might be effective in improving clinical outcomes. Additional support when working with White young adults that are NEET and those in more deprived areas may also be important.
Previous qualitative research suggests that university students feel that current service provision does not meet their needs. Exploring the reasons for this may help to promote service change, encourage the uptake of care, improve outcomes and increase satisfaction within university services.
This study aimed to improve the understanding of how students experience the process of accessing and using mental health support, barriers and facilitators to treatment, and how students would adapt provision to improve experiences.
Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 16 full-time students who had used mental health services at university. Data were analysed using thematic analysis.
Five higher-order themes were identified: personalisation and informed choice, simplifying the process, feeling abandoned ignored or invisible, stigma, and superiority of private and external services. Sixteen subthemes were identified within these themes.
Findings indicate that access to mental health support should be simplified, with collaboration across university and external health and care services, to prevent students feeling lost or abandoned when seeking care. An inclusive approach to support access and provision of services for all presentations of mental health problems should be developed.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health services have had to offer psychological therapy via video with little time to prepare or mitigate potential problems. Identifying the barriers, benefits and training needs highlighted by clinicians may support the effective delivery of care.
Changes in the mode therapy sessions were delivered in during 2020 were assessed in two high-volume psychological therapies services. Sixty-six therapists completed a survey about their experiences of delivering therapy via video.
The lockdown in March 2020 precipitated a dramatic shift from face-to-face to telephone and video-delivered sessions. Most clinicians (89%) found video-based sessions acceptable. Barriers to effective delivery included technological issues, problems with online platforms, and feeling more tired after sessions. Benefits included generalised learning from behavioural work, improvements in efficiency and in the therapeutic relationship, particularly in comparison with telephone-based sessions. Tutorials and support guides were recommended to maximise use of sessions via video.
Video-delivered therapy was liked by clinicians and preferred to telephone-based sessions. Issues with platforms, internet connections and access for patients need addressing, local troubleshooting guides, video-based tutorials and greater support for low-intensity therapists to maximise uptake of video sessions where appropriate, may be beneficial.
This study aimed to investigate general factors associated with prognosis regardless of the type of treatment received, for adults with depression in primary care.
We searched Medline, Embase, PsycINFO and Cochrane Central (inception to 12/01/2020) for RCTs that included the most commonly used comprehensive measure of depressive and anxiety disorder symptoms and diagnoses, in primary care depression RCTs (the Revised Clinical Interview Schedule: CIS-R). Two-stage random-effects meta-analyses were conducted.
Twelve (n = 6024) of thirteen eligible studies (n = 6175) provided individual patient data. There was a 31% (95%CI: 25 to 37) difference in depressive symptoms at 3–4 months per standard deviation increase in baseline depressive symptoms. Four additional factors: the duration of anxiety; duration of depression; comorbid panic disorder; and a history of antidepressant treatment were also independently associated with poorer prognosis. There was evidence that the difference in prognosis when these factors were combined could be of clinical importance. Adding these variables improved the amount of variance explained in 3–4 month depressive symptoms from 16% using depressive symptom severity alone to 27%. Risk of bias (assessed with QUIPS) was low in all studies and quality (assessed with GRADE) was high. Sensitivity analyses did not alter our conclusions.
When adults seek treatment for depression clinicians should routinely assess for the duration of anxiety, duration of depression, comorbid panic disorder, and a history of antidepressant treatment alongside depressive symptom severity. This could provide clinicians and patients with useful and desired information to elucidate prognosis and aid the clinical management of depression.
The COVID-19 pandemic and nationally mandated restrictions to control the virus have been associated with increased mental health issues. However, the differential impact of the pandemic and lockdown on groups of individuals, and the personal characteristics associated with poorer outcomes are unknown.
Data from 21 938 adults in England who participated in a stratified cohort study were analysed. Trajectories of depression and anxiety symptoms were identified using growth mixture modelling. Multinomial and logistic regression models were constructed to identify sociodemographic and personality-related risk factors associated with trajectory class membership.
Four trajectories of depression and five for anxiety were identified. The most common group presented with low symptom severity throughout, other classes were identified that showed: severe levels of symptoms which increased; moderate symptoms throughout; worsening mental health during lockdown but improvements after lockdown ended; and for anxiety only, severe initial anxiety that decreased quickly during lockdown. Age, gender, ethnicity, income, previous diagnoses, living situation, personality factors and sociability were associated with different trajectories.
Nearly 30% of participants experienced trajectories with symptoms in the clinical range during lockdown, and did not follow the average curve or majority group, highlighting the importance of differential trajectories. Young, female, outgoing and sociable people and essential workers experienced severe anxiety around the announcement of lockdown which rapidly decreased. Younger individuals with lower incomes and previous mental health diagnoses experienced higher and increasing levels of symptoms. Recognising the likely symptom trajectories for such groups may allow for targeted care or interventions.
Treatment outcomes across Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services in England have improved year-on-year, with the national average proportion of patients in recovery at the end of treatment now exceeding the 50% target. This is despite the number of referrals and numbers of treated patients also increasing year-on-year, suggesting that services have evolved local practices and treatment delivery to meet needs whilst improving performance. This study explores whether there have been changes in clinical practice with regard to: (1) the number of sessions and length of treatments; (2) the number of cancellations and non-attendance; and (3) the recording of problem descriptor information, and the association with treatment outcomes in IAPT. Routinely collected data from seven IAPT services involved in the North and Central East London (NCEL) IAPT Service Improvement and Research Network (SIRN) were brought together to form a dataset of nearly 88,000 patients who completed a course of IAPT treatment. Results showed that there was a slight increase in the average number of sessions, and decreases in the length of time in treatment, as well as decreases in both the number of non-attended appointments and the use of inappropriate problem descriptors. These findings highlight a number of areas where potentially small changes to clinical practice may have had positive effects on patient outcomes. The value of using IAPT data to inform service improvement evaluations is discussed.
Key learning aims
(1) How changes to treatment-delivery factors are associated with IAPT patient outcomes.
(2) The link between clinical practice and potential service performance.
(3) How analysing routinely collected data can be used to inform service improvement.
This paper presents a framework for the interactions between the processes of mapping and rerepresentation within analogy making. Analogical reasoning systems for use in design tasks require representations that are open to being reinterpreted. The framework, interpretation-driven mapping, casts the process of constructing an analogical relationship as requiring iterative, parallel interactions between mapping and interpreting. This paper argues that this interpretation-driven approach focuses research on a fundamental problem in analogy making: how do the representations that make new mappings possible emerge during the mapping process? The framework is useful for both describing existing analogy-making models and designing future ones. The paper presents a computational model informed by the framework Idiom, which learns ways to reinterpret the representations of objects as it maps between them. The results of an implementation in the domain of visual analogy are presented to demonstrate its feasibility. Analogies constructed by the system are presented as examples. The interpretation-driven mapping framework is then used to compare representational change in Idiom to that in three previously published systems.
This paper presents a possible future direction for agent-based
simulation using complex agents that can learn from experience and report
their individual evaluations. Adding learning to the agent model permits
the simulation of potentially important agent behavior such as curiosity.
The agents can then report evaluations of a design that are situated in
their individual experience. The paper describes the architecture of
curious agents used in the situated evaluation of designs. It then
describes an example of the application of such curious agents in the
evaluation of the curating of an exhibition in an art gallery.
An evolutionary model for nonroutine design is presented, which is
called hierarchical coevolution. The requirements for an evolutionary
model of nonroutine design are provided, and some of the problems with
existing approaches are discussed. Some of the ways in which these
problems have been addressed are examined in terms of the design
knowledge required by evolutionary processes. Then, a synthesis of
these approaches as a hierarchical coevolutionary model of nonroutine
design is presented and the manner in which this model addresses the
requirements of an evolutionary design model is discussed. An
implementation in the domain of space planning provides an example of a
hierarchical design problem.
The economic record establishes the midnineteenth century as a time of prosperity according to growth in incomes, wealth per capita, and technology. Less is known about the record on health, and that which is available suggests that improvements in the quality of life did not extend to mortality rates and morbidity levels. The population investigated here consists of almost 600 skeletons out of more than 1,500 individuals buried at St. Thomas' Anglican Church cemetery in Belleville, Ontario, between 1821 and 1874. Our investigations show that mortality rates, especially for infants, did not improve over the period of greatest cemetery use, from 1850 to 1874. Skeletal investigations support the interpretation of the importance of acute versus chronic infections and the significance of environmental conditions affecting infant morbidity and mortality. The skeletal variables identified as significant contributors to the quality of life index for St. Thomas' may fit with the conclusion that healthwise, life in the mid-nineteenth century was not measurably better for the middle to upper class at St. Thomas' and may coincidentally reflect a broader North American phenomenon related to urbanization. Nevertheless, these observations are also uniquely reflective of the church and town alone.
Historians and other social scientists have been interested in the fate of various classes or socioeconomic groups during the transition from a settled agricultural to an urban-industrial way of life, a change that occurred in North America during the middle of the nineteenth century. The economic record clearly establishes the midnineteenth century as a time of prosperity according to growth in incomes, wealth per capita, and technology.
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