To save content items to your account,
please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies.
If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account.
Find out more about saving content to .
To save content items to your Kindle, first ensure email@example.com
is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings
on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part
of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about saving to your Kindle.
Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations.
‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi.
‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
Emergency departments are key settings for suicide prevention. Most people are deemed to be at no or low risk in final contacts before death.
To micro-analyse how clinicians ask about suicidal ideation and/or self-harm in emergency department psychosocial assessments and how patients respond.
Forty-six psychosocial assessments between mental health clinicians and people with suicidal ideation and/or self-harm were video-recorded. Verbal and non-verbal features of 55 question–answer sequences about self-harm thoughts and/or actions were micro-analysed using conversation analysis. Fisher's exact test was used to test the hypothesis that question type was associated with patient disclosure.
(a) Eighty-four per cent of initial questions (N = 46/55) were closed yes/no questions about self-harm thoughts and/or feelings, plans to self-harm, potential for future self-harm, predicting risk of future self-harm and being okay or keeping safe. Patients disclosed minimal information in response to closed questions, whereas open questions elicited ambivalent and information rich responses. (b) All closed questions were leading, with 54% inviting no and 46% inviting yes. When patients were asked no-inviting questions, the disclosure rate was 8%, compared to 65% when asked yes-inviting questions (P < 0.05 Fisher's exact test). (c) Patients struggled to respond when asked to predict future self-harm or guarantee safety. (d) Half of closed questions had a narrow timeframe (e.g. at the moment, overnight) or were tied to possible discharge.
Across assessments, there is a bias towards not uncovering thoughts and plans of self-harm through the cumulative effect of leading questions that invite a no response, their narrow timeframe and tying questions to possible discharge. Open questions, yes-inviting questions and asking how people feel about the future facilitate disclosure.
Michaelson & Rahim describe a very welcome sustainable training framework for teaching clinical communication skills to trainees on MRCPsych courses. This commentary expands on their article, noting how psychiatrists listen and ask questions affects the therapeutic relationship and patients’ willingness or ability to disclose sensitive information, which is particularly important in risk assessment. Extending videorecording role-plays in training to routine (including remote) clinical consultations and involving patients and carers in training will be key to identifying communication that has a positive impact on patient experience and outcomes.
Mental health crises are common in people with complex emotional needs (our preferred working term for people diagnosed with a 'personality disorder'), yet this population is often dissatisfied with the crisis care they receive. Exploring their experiences and views on what could be improved, and those of carers and healthcare staff, is key to developing better services.
We aimed to synthesise the relevant qualitative literature.
Five databases were searched. Eligible studies included service users with a diagnosis of personality disorder and their carers or relevant staff, focused on crisis responses and used a qualitative design. Data were analysed with thematic synthesis.
Eleven studies were included, most focusing on emergency departments. Four meta-themes emerged: (a) acceptance and rejection when presenting to crisis care: limited options and lack of involvement of carers; (b) interpersonal processes: importance of the therapeutic relationship and establishing a framework for treatment; (c) managing recovery from a crisis: clear recovery plan and negotiating collaboration; and (d) equipping and supporting staff: training and emotional support.
Our findings suggest that emergency departments have major limitations as settings to provide crisis care for people with complex emotional needs, but there is a lack of research exploring alternatives. The quality of the therapeutic relationship was central to how care was experienced, with collaborative and optimistic staff highly valued. Staff reported feeling poorly supported in responding to the needs of this population. Research looking at experiences of a range of care options and how to improve these is needed.
Each year, 220 000 episodes of self-harm are managed by emergency departments in England, providing support to people at risk of suicide.
To explore treatment of self-harm in emergency departments, comparing perspectives of patients, carers and practitioners.
Focus groups and semi-structured interviews with 79 people explored experiences of receiving/delivering care. Participants were patients (7 young people, 12 adults), 8 carers, 15 generalist emergency department practitioners and 37 liaison psychiatry practitioners. Data were analysed using framework analysis.
We identified four themes. One was common across stakeholder groups: (a) the wider system is failing people who self-harm: they often only access crisis support as they are frequently excluded from services, leading to unhelpful cycles of attending the emergency department. Carers felt over-relied upon and ill-equipped to keep the person safe. Three themes reflected different perspectives across stakeholders: (b) practitioners feel powerless and become hardened towards patients, with patients feeling judged for seeking help which exacerbates their distress; (c) patients need a human connection to offer hope when life feels hopeless, yet practitioners underestimate the therapeutic potential of interactions; and (d) practitioners are fearful of blame if someone takes their life: formulaic question-and-answer risk assessments help make staff feel safer but patients feel this is not a valid way of assessing risk or addressing their needs.
Emergency department practitioners should seek to build a human connection and validate patients’ distress, which offers hope when life feels hopeless. Patients consider this a therapeutic intervention in its own right. Investment in self-harm treatment is indicated.
UK Biobank is a well-characterised cohort of over 500 000 participants including genetics, environmental data and imaging. An online mental health questionnaire was designed for UK Biobank participants to expand its potential.
Describe the development, implementation and results of this questionnaire.
An expert working group designed the questionnaire, using established measures where possible, and consulting a patient group. Operational criteria were agreed for defining likely disorder and risk states, including lifetime depression, mania/hypomania, generalised anxiety disorder, unusual experiences and self-harm, and current post-traumatic stress and hazardous/harmful alcohol use.
A total of 157 366 completed online questionnaires were available by August 2017. Participants were aged 45–82 (53% were ≥65 years) and 57% women. Comparison of self-reported diagnosed mental disorder with a contemporary study shows a similar prevalence, despite respondents being of higher average socioeconomic status. Lifetime depression was a common finding, with 24% (37 434) of participants meeting criteria and current hazardous/harmful alcohol use criteria were met by 21% (32 602), whereas other criteria were met by less than 8% of the participants. There was extensive comorbidity among the syndromes. Mental disorders were associated with a high neuroticism score, adverse life events and long-term illness; addiction and bipolar affective disorder in particular were associated with measures of deprivation.
The UK Biobank questionnaire represents a very large mental health survey in itself, and the results presented here show high face validity, although caution is needed because of selection bias. Built into UK Biobank, these data intersect with other health data to offer unparalleled potential for crosscutting biomedical research involving mental health.
Shared decision-making is advocated but may be affected by cognitive impairment. Measures of shared decision-making provide global descriptions of communication without detailed analysis of the subtle ways in which doctors invite patient input.
We aimed to explore medication decisions in dementia, using a standardised Treatment Recommendation Coding Scheme.
We analysed 71 video-recorded dementia diagnostic meetings from nine memory clinics. Recommendations were coded as pronouncements (‘I will start you on medication’), proposals (‘Shall we try medication?’), suggestions (‘Would you like to try medication?’), offers (‘I can prescribe medication’) or assertions (‘There is medication’). Patient responses were coded as acceptance (‘I'd like to have that’), active resistance (‘I'm not very keen’) and passive resistance (minimal or no response). Cognitive test scores, prescription rates and satisfaction were assessed and associations were explored.
Doctors used suggestions in 42% of meetings, proposals in 25%, assertions in 13%, pronouncements in 11% and offers in 9%. Over 80% of patients did not indicate clear acceptance. Patients were most likely to actively resist after suggestions. There was no association between cognitive impairment and recommendation format. Patients were less satisfied with pronouncements. Patient preference did not influence whether medication was prescribed.
Doctors initially nominate people with dementia as the decision maker, and this is unaffected by cognitive impairment. Over 80% of patients resisted starting medication, mostly through passive resistance, the most common form of disagreement in communication. Medication still tended to be prescribed, indicating that factors other than patient preference affect prescription.
Receiving a diagnosis of dementia is a life-changing event and can cause strong emotional reactions. The aim of this study was to examine patient and companion concerns expressed during dementia diagnosis feedback meetings. Sixty consultations between 19 health-care professionals (HCPs), 60 patients and 59 companions were video-recorded and transcribed. Concerns were identified from the transcripts and were (a) content analysed, (b) coded as elicited by the HCP or volunteered by the patient or companion, and (c) coded according to whether the HCP encouraged or discouraged elaboration of the concern. A total of 249 concerns were identified (average four concerns per consultation). There were three areas of findings: (a) patients and companions were concerned about the symptoms of dementia and receiving a diagnosis; other concerns related to patients’ mental and physical health, and prognosis, (b) HCPs elicited more patient than companion concerns and mostly elicited concerns aligned with the agenda of diagnosis feedback, and (c) HCPs were more likely to encourage elaboration when they elicited the concern. Nearly 40 per cent of concerns were discouraged by the HPC changing topic, with concerns about prognosis most commonly discouraged. The findings suggest that there were a wide variety of concerns at dementia diagnosis, many extending beyond the experience of dementia symptoms. HCP avoidance of concerns about prognosis demonstrated delicacy in discussing the deteriorating course of dementia.
UK Biobank is a well-characterised cohort of over 500 000 participants that offers unique opportunities to investigate multiple diseases and risk factors.
An online mental health questionnaire completed by UK Biobank participants was expected to expand the potential for research into mental disorders.
An expert working group designed the questionnaire, using established measures where possible, and consulting with a patient group regarding acceptability. Case definitions were defined using operational criteria for lifetime depression, mania, anxiety disorder, psychotic-like experiences and self-harm, as well as current post-traumatic stress and alcohol use disorders.
157 366 completed online questionnaires were available by August 2017. Comparison of self-reported diagnosed mental disorder with a contemporary study shows a similar prevalence, despite respondents being of higher average socioeconomic status than the general population across a range of indicators. Thirty-five per cent (55 750) of participants had at least one defined syndrome, of which lifetime depression was the most common at 24% (37 434). There was extensive comorbidity among the syndromes. Mental disorders were associated with high neuroticism score, adverse life events and long-term illness; addiction and bipolar affective disorder in particular were associated with measures of deprivation.
The questionnaire represents a very large mental health survey in itself, and the results presented here show high face validity, although caution is needed owing to selection bias. Built into UK Biobank, these data intersect with other health data to offer unparalleled potential for crosscutting biomedical research involving mental health.
Declaration of interest
G.B. received grants from the National Institute for Health Research during the study; and support from Illumina Ltd. and the European Commission outside the submitted work. B.C. received grants from the Scottish Executive Chief Scientist Office and from The Dr Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation during the study. C.S. received grants from the Medical Research Council and Wellcome Trust during the study, and is the Chief Scientist for UK Biobank. M.H. received grants from the Innovative Medicines Initiative via the RADAR-CNS programme and personal fees as an expert witness outside the submitted work.
Dementia diagnosis rates are increasing. Guidelines recommend that people with dementia should be told their diagnosis clearly and honestly to facilitate future planning.
To analyse how doctors deliver a dementia diagnosis in practice.
Conversation analysis was conducted on 81 video-recorded diagnosis feedback meetings with 20 doctors from nine UK memory clinics.
All doctors named dementia; 59% (n = 48) approached the diagnosis indirectly but delicately (‘this is dementia’) and 41% (n = 33) approached this directly but bluntly (‘you have Alzheimer's disease’). Direct approaches were used more often with people with lower cognitive test scores. Doctors emphasised that the dementia was mild and tended to downplay its progression, with some avoiding discussing prognosis altogether.
Doctors are naming dementia to patients. Direct approaches reflect attempts to ensure clear diagnosis. Downplaying and avoiding prognosis demonstrates concerns about preserving hope but may compromise understanding about and planning for the future.
A better therapeutic relationship predicts better outcomes. However,
there is no trial-based evidence on how to improve therapeutic
relationships in psychosis.
To test the effectiveness of communication training for psychiatrists on
improving shared understanding and the therapeutic relationship (trial
In a cluster randomised controlled trial in the UK, 21 psychiatrists were
randomised. Ninety-seven (51% of those approached) out-patients with
schizophrenia/schizoaffective disorder were recruited, and 64 (66% of the
sample recruited at baseline) were followed up after 5 months. The
intervention group received four group and one individualised session.
The primary outcome, rated blind, was psychiatrist effort in establishing
shared understanding (self-repair). Secondary outcome was the therapeutic
Psychiatrists receiving the intervention used 44% more self-repair than
the control group (adjusted difference in means 6.4, 95% CI 1.46–11.33,
P<0.011, a large effect) adjusting for baseline
self-repair. Psychiatrists rated the therapeutic relationship more
positively (adjusted difference in means 0.20, 95% CI 0.03–0.37,
P = 0.022, a medium effect), as did patients
(adjusted difference in means 0.21, 95% CI 0.01–0.41, P
= 0.043, a medium effect).
Shared understanding can be successfully targeted in training and
improves relationships in treating psychosis.
Psychiatrists' questions are the mechanism for achieving clinical
objectives and managing the formation of a therapeutic alliance –
consistently associated with patient adherence. No research has examined
the nature of this relationship and the different practices used in
psychiatry. Questions are typically defined in binary terms (e.g. ‘open’
v. ‘closed’) that may have limited application in
To undertake a detailed examination of the types of questions
psychiatrists ask patients and explore their association with the
therapeutic alliance and patient adherence.
A coding protocol was developed to classify questions from 134
out-patient consultations, predominantly by syntactic form. Bivariate
correlations with measures of patient adherence and the therapeutic
alliance (psychiatrist-rated) were examined and assessed using
generalised estimating equations, adjusting for patient symptoms,
psychiatrist identity and amount of speech.
Psychiatrists used only four of ten question types regularly: yes/no
auxiliary questions, ‘wh-’ questions, declarative questions and tag
questions. Only declarative questions predicted better adherence and
perceptions of the therapeutic relationship. Conversely, ‘wh-’ questions
– associated with positive symptoms – predicted poorer perceptions of the
therapeutic relationship. Declarative questions were frequently used to
propose an understanding of patients' experiences, in particular their
emotional salience for the patient.
A refined defining of questioning practices is necessary to improve
communication in psychiatry. The use of declarative questions may enhance
alliance and adherence, or index their manifestation in talk, e.g. better
mutual understanding. The function of ‘so’-prefaced declaratives, also
used in psychotherapy, is more nuanced than negatively connotated
‘leading’ questions. Hearable as displays of empathy, they attend closely
to patient experience, while balancing the tasks of assessment and
Communication may be an influential determinant of inequality of access to, engagement with and benefit from psychiatric services.
To review the evidence on interventions designed to improve therapeutic communications between Black and minority ethnic patients and clinicians who provide care in psychiatric services.
Systematic review and evidence synthesis (PROSPERO registration: CRD42011001661). Data sources included the published and the ‘grey’ literature. A survey of experts and a consultation with patients and carers all contributed to the evidence synthesis, interpretation and recommendations.
Twenty-one studies were included in our analysis. The trials showed benefits mainly for depressive symptoms, experiences of care, knowledge, stigma, adherence to prescribed medication, insight and alliance. The effect sizes were smaller for better-quality trials (range of d 0.18–0.75) than for moderate- or lower-quality studies (range of d 0.18–4.3). The review found only two studies offering weak economic evidence.
Culturally adapted psychotherapies, and ethnographic and motivational assessment leading to psychotherapies were effective and favoured by patients and carers. Further trials are needed from outside of the UK and USA, as are economic evaluations and studies of routine psychiatric care practices.
Communication is affected by dementia, even in the early stages. Studies directly observing how patients, companions and healthcare professionals communicate have not yet been reviewed.
Eight databases were searched, and hand searches of relevant journals and grey literature were performed up to August 2014. Two authors reviewed abstracts independently and collectively reviewed for agreement of inclusion. Findings were narratively synthesized.
23 studies were identified observing: diagnostic, follow up, day center, primary care and research consent interactions. Companions were present in 14 studies. Three themes emerged: emotional impact of diagnosis, level of patient involvement and participant strategies to save face and cope with cognitive impairment. Eight studies observed diagnostic disclosure describing emotional reactions, with professionals using mitigating language and rarely checking patient understanding. Studies reported varying patient involvement, showing marginalization in primary care but not in assessments or diagnostic feedback. Patients used humor and metaphor to compensate for difficulties retrieving information and responding appropriately, suggesting preserved awareness of the pragmatics of interaction. Companion roles fluctuated between patient advocate and professional informant. Professionals encountered challenges adapting to heterogeneous patient groups with varying capabilities and needs.
Patient-companion-professional communication in dementia care raises various ethical questions: how to strike a balance between different communicative needs of patients and companions; clarity versus sensitivity in delivery of the diagnosis; and whether to minimize or expose interactional difficulties and misunderstanding to enrich patient understanding and involvement. Healthcare professionals need guidance in delivering a diagnosis and strategies to optimize patient and companion participation.
Communication between clinicians and patients is at the heart of psychiatric
practice and particularly challenging with psychotic patients. It may
influence patient outcome indirectly or be therapeutic in its own right.
Appropriate conceptual models, evidence on effective interventions and
specific training are required to optimise communication in everyday routine
Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this to your organisation's collection.