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Families facing end-stage nonmalignant chronic diseases (NMCDs) are presented with similar symptom burdens and need for psycho-social–spiritual support as their counterparts with advanced cancers. However, NMCD patients tend to face more variable disease trajectories, and thus may require different anticipatory supports, delivered in familiar environments. The Life Rainbow Programme (LRP) provides holistic, transdisciplinary, community-based end-of-life care for patients with NMCDs and their caregivers. This paper reports on the 3-month outcomes using a single-group, pre–post comparison.
Patients with end-stage NMCDs were screened for eligibility by a medical team before being referred to the LRP. Patients were assessed at baseline (T0), 1 month (T1), and 3 months (T2) using the Integrated Palliative Outcome Scale (IPOS). Their hospital use in the previous month was also measured by presentations at accident and emergency services, admissions to intensive care units, and number of hospital bed-days. Caregivers were assessed at T0 and T2 using the Chinese version of the Modified Caregiver Strain Index, and self-reported health, psychological, spiritual, and overall well-being. Over-time changes in outcomes for patients, and caregivers, were tested using paired-sample t-tests, Wilcoxon-signed rank tests, and chi-square tests.
Seventy-four patients and 36 caregivers participated in this research study. Patients reported significant improvements in all IPOS domains at both 1 and 3 months [ranging from Cohen's d = 0.495 (nausea) to 1.793 (depression and information needs fulfilled)]. Average hospital bed-days in the previous month fell from 3.50 to 1.68, comparing baseline and 1 month (p < 0.05). At 3 months, caregiver strain was significantly reduced (r = 0.332), while spiritual well-being was enhanced (r = 0.333).
After receiving 3 month's LRP services, patients with end-stage NMCDs and their caregivers experienced significant improvements in the quality of life and well-being, and their hospital bed-days were reduced.
Abnormal effort-based decision-making represents a potential mechanism underlying motivational deficits (amotivation) in psychotic disorders. Previous research identified effort allocation impairment in chronic schizophrenia and focused mostly on physical effort modality. No study has investigated cognitive effort allocation in first-episode psychosis (FEP).
Cognitive effort allocation was examined in 40 FEP patients and 44 demographically-matched healthy controls, using Cognitive Effort-Discounting (COGED) paradigm which quantified participants’ willingness to expend cognitive effort in terms of explicit, continuous discounting of monetary rewards based on parametrically-varied cognitive demands (levels N of N-back task). Relationship between reward-discounting and amotivation was investigated. Group differences in reward-magnitude and effort-cost sensitivity, and differential associations of these sensitivity indices with amotivation were explored.
Patients displayed significantly greater reward-discounting than controls. In particular, such discounting was most pronounced in patients with high levels of amotivation even when N-back performance and reward base amount were taken into consideration. Moreover, patients exhibited reduced reward-benefit sensitivity and effort-cost sensitivity relative to controls, and that decreased sensitivity to reward-benefit but not effort-cost was correlated with diminished motivation. Reward-discounting and sensitivity indices were generally unrelated to other symptom dimensions, antipsychotic dose and cognitive deficits.
This study provides the first evidence of cognitive effort-based decision-making impairment in FEP, and indicates that decreased effort expenditure is associated with amotivation. Our findings further suggest that abnormal effort allocation and amotivation might primarily be related to blunted reward valuation. Prospective research is required to clarify the utility of effort-based measures in predicting amotivation and functional outcome in FEP.
Better understanding of interplay among symptoms, cognition and functioning in first-episode psychosis (FEP) is crucial to promoting functional recovery. Network analysis is a promising data-driven approach to elucidating complex interactions among psychopathological variables in psychosis, but has not been applied in FEP.
This study employed network analysis to examine inter-relationships among a wide array of variables encompassing psychopathology, premorbid and onset characteristics, cognition, subjective quality-of-life and psychosocial functioning in 323 adult FEP patients in Hong Kong. Graphical Least Absolute Shrinkage and Selection Operator (LASSO) combined with extended Bayesian information criterion (BIC) model selection was used for network construction. Importance of individual nodes in a generated network was quantified by centrality analyses.
Our results showed that amotivation played the most central role and had the strongest associations with other variables in the network, as indexed by node strength. Amotivation and diminished expression displayed differential relationships with other nodes, supporting the validity of two-factor negative symptom structure. Psychosocial functioning was most strongly connected with amotivation and was weakly linked to several other variables. Within cognitive domain, digit span demonstrated the highest centrality and was connected with most of the other cognitive variables. Exploratory analysis revealed no significant gender differences in network structure and global strength.
Our results suggest the pivotal role of amotivation in psychopathology network of FEP and indicate its critical association with psychosocial functioning. Further research is required to verify the clinical significance of diminished motivation on functional outcome in the early course of psychotic illness.
In Hong Kong, universal varicella vaccination started in July 2014. Before this, children could receive varicella vaccine via the private market. We analysed the epidemiology of varicella and zoster before universal vaccination. We estimated varicella vaccination coverage through surveys in preschool children. We estimated the burden of varicella and zoster with varicella notifications from 1999/00 to 2013/14, Accident and Emergency Department (A&E) attendance and inpatient admissions to public hospitals from 2004/05 to 2013/14. We fitted a catalytic model to serological data on antibodies against varicella-zoster virus to estimate the force of infection. We found that varicella vaccination coverage gradually increased to about 50% before programme inception. In children younger than 5 years, the annual rate of varicella notifications, varicella admission and zoster A&E attendance generally declined. The annual notification, A&E attendance and hospitalisation rate of varicella and zoster generally increased for individuals between 10 and 59 years old. Varicella serology indicated an age shift during the study period towards a higher proportion of infections in slightly older individuals, but the change was most notable before vaccine licensure. In conclusion, we observed a shift in the burden of varicella to slightly older age groups with a corresponding increase in incidence but it cannot necessarily be attributed to private market vaccine coverage alone. Increasing varicella vaccination uptake in the private market might affect varicella transmission and epidemiology, but not to the level of interrupting transmission.
Evidence suggests that autism and schizophrenia share similarities in genetic, neuropsychological and behavioural aspects. Although both disorders are associated with theory of mind (ToM) impairments, a few studies have directly compared ToM between autism patients and schizophrenia patients. This study aimed to investigate to what extent high-functioning autism patients and schizophrenia patients share and differ in ToM performance.
Thirty high-functioning autism patients, 30 schizophrenia patients and 30 healthy individuals were recruited. Participants were matched in age, gender and estimated intelligence quotient. The verbal-based Faux Pas Task and the visual-based Yoni Task were utilised to examine first- and higher-order, affective and cognitive ToM. The task/item difficulty of two paradigms was examined using mixed model analyses of variance (ANOVAs). Multiple ANOVAs and mixed model ANOVAs were used to examine group differences in ToM.
The Faux Pas Task was more difficult than the Yoni Task. High-functioning autism patients showed more severely impaired verbal-based ToM in the Faux Pas Task, but shared similar visual-based ToM impairments in the Yoni Task with schizophrenia patients.
The findings that individuals with high-functioning autism shared similar but more severe impairments in verbal ToM than individuals with schizophrenia support the autism–schizophrenia continuum. The finding that verbal-based but not visual-based ToM was more impaired in high-functioning autism patients than schizophrenia patients could be attributable to the varied task/item difficulty between the two paradigms.
Screening for depression in older adults is recommended.
To evaluate the diagnostic accuracy of the Two-Question Screen for older adults and compare it with other screening instruments for depression.
We undertook a literature search for studies assessing the diagnostic performance of depression screening instruments in older adults. Combined diagnostic accuracy including sensitivity and specificity were the primary outcomes. Potential risks of bias and the quality of studies were also assessed.
A total of 46506 participants from 132 studies were identified evaluating 16 screening instruments. The majority of studies (63/132) used various versions of the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) and 6 used the Two-Question Screen. The combined sensitivity and specificity for the Two-Question Screen were 91.8% (95% CI 85.2–95.6) and 67.7% (95% CI 58.1–76.0), respectively; the diagnostic performance area under the curve (AUC) was 90%. The Two-Question Screen showed comparable performance with other instruments, including clinician-rated scales. The One-Question Screen showed the lowest diagnostic performance with an AUC of 78%. In subgroup analysis, the Two-Question Screen also had good diagnostic performance in screening for major depressive disorder.
The Two-Question Screen is a simple and short instrument for depression screening. Its diagnostic performance is comparable with other instruments and, therefore, it would be favourable to use it for older adult screening programmes.
To search for studies on tongue–lip adhesion and tongue repositioning used as isolated treatments for obstructive sleep apnoea in children with Pierre Robin sequence.
A systematic literature search of PubMed/Medline and three additional databases, from inception through to 8 July 2016, was performed by two authors.
Seven studies with 90 patients (59 tongue–lip adhesion and 31 tongue repositioning patients) met the inclusion criteria. Tongue–lip adhesion reduced the mean (± standard deviation) apnoea/hypopnoea index from 30.8 ± 22.3 to 15.4 ± 18.9 events per hour (50 per cent reduction). The apnoea/hypopnoea index mean difference for tongue–lip adhesion was −15.28 events per hour (95 per cent confidence interval = −30.70 to 0.15; p = 0.05). Tongue–lip adhesion improved the lowest oxygen saturation from 75.8 ± 6.8 to 84.4 ± 7.3 per cent. Tongue repositioning reduced the apnoea/hypopnoea index from 46.5 to 17.4 events per hour (62.6 per cent reduction). Tongue repositioning improved the mean oxygen saturation from 90.8 ± 1.2 to 95.0 ± 0.5 per cent.
Tongue–lip adhesion and tongue repositioning can improve apnoea/hypopnoea index and oxygenation parameters in children with Pierre Robin sequence and obstructive sleep apnoea.
Better understanding of the complex interplay among key determinants of functional outcome is crucial to promoting recovery in psychotic disorders. However, this is understudied in the early course of illness. We aimed to examine the relationships among negative symptoms, neurocognition, general self-efficacy and global functioning in first-episode psychosis (FEP) patients using structural equation modeling (SEM).
Three hundred and twenty-one Chinese patients aged 26–55 years presenting with FEP to an early intervention program in Hong Kong were recruited. Assessments encompassing symptom profiles, functioning, perceived general self-efficacy and a battery of neurocognitive tests were conducted. Negative symptom measurement was subdivided into amotivation and diminished expression (DE) domain scores based on the ratings in the Scale for the Assessment of Negative Symptoms.
An initial SEM model showed no significant association between functioning and DE which was removed from further analysis. A final trimmed model yielded very good model fit (χ2 = 15.48, p = 0.63; comparative fit index = 1.00; root mean square error of approximation <0.001) and demonstrated that amotivation, neurocognition and general self-efficacy had a direct effect on global functioning. Amotivation was also found to mediate a significant indirect effect of neurocognition and general self-efficacy on functioning. Neurocognition was not significantly related to general self-efficacy.
Our results indicate a critical intermediary role of amotivation in linking neurocognitive impairment to functioning in FEP. General self-efficacy may represent a promising treatment target for improvement of motivational deficits and functional outcome in the early illness stage.
The risk of malaria outbreak surfaced in Vanuatu after Tropical Cyclone (TC) Pam in March 2015. In June and July 2015 we conducted malariometric surveys on the islands of Tanna, Aneityum, and Erromango in Tafea Province, where malaria elimination had been targeted, to determine if malaria incidence had increased after TC Pam. No Plasmodium infection was detected by microscopy and PCR in 3009 survey participants. Only 6·3% (190/3007) of participants had fever. Spleen rates in children aged ⩽12 years from Aneityum and Tanna were low, at 3·6% (14/387) and 5·3% (27/510), respectively. Overall bed net use was high at 72·8% (2175/2986); however, a significantly higher (P < 0·001) proportion of participants from Aneityum (85·9%, 796/927) reported net use than those from Tanna (67·1%, 751/1119) and Erromango (66·8%, 628/940). A recent decrease in malaria incidence in Tafea Province through comprehensive intervention measures had reduced the indigenous parasite reservoir and limited the latter's potential to spur an outbreak after TC Pam. The path towards malaria elimination in Tafea Province was not adversely affected by TC Pam.
Relapse is distressingly common after the first episode of psychosis, yet it is poorly understood and difficult to predict. Investigating changes in cognitive function preceding relapse may provide new insights into the underlying mechanism of relapse in psychosis. We hypothesized that relapse in fully remitted first-episode psychosis patients was preceded by working memory deterioration.
Visual memory and verbal working memory were monitored prospectively in a 1-year randomized controlled trial of remitted first-episode psychosis patients assigned to medication continuation (quetiapine 400 mg/day) or discontinuation (placebo). Relapse (recurrence of positive symptoms of psychosis), visual (Visual Patterns Test) and verbal (Letter–Number span test) working memory and stressful life events were assessed monthly.
Remitted first-episode patients (n = 102) participated in the study. Relapsers (n = 53) and non-relapsers (n = 49) had similar baseline demographic and clinical profiles. Logistic regression analyses indicated relapse was associated with visual working memory deterioration 2 months before relapse [odds ratio (OR) 3.07, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.19–7.92, P = 0.02], more stressful life events 1 month before relapse (OR 2.11, 95% CI 1.20–3.72, P = 0.01) and medication discontinuation (OR 5.52, 95% CI 2.08–14.62, P = 0.001).
Visual working memory deterioration beginning 2 months before relapse in remitted first-episode psychosis patients (not baseline predictor) may reflect early brain dysfunction that heralds a psychotic relapse. The deterioration was found to be unrelated to a worsening of psychotic symptoms preceding relapse. Testable predictors offer insight into the brain processes underlying relapse in psychosis.
During 1990 we surveyed the southern sky using a multi-beam receiver at frequencies of 4850 and 843 MHz. The half-power beamwidths were 4 and 25 arcmin respectively. The finished surveys cover the declination range between +10 and −90 degrees declination, essentially complete in right ascension, an area of 7.30 steradians. Preliminary analysis of the 4850 MHz data indicates that we will achieve a five sigma flux density limit of about 30 mJy. We estimate that we will find between 80 000 and 90 000 new sources above this limit. This is a revised version of the paper presented at the Regional Meeting by the first four authors; the surveys now have been completed.
Patients with schizophrenia have intact ability to experience emotion, but empirical evidence suggests that they fail to translate emotional salience into effortful behaviour. Previous research in patients with chronic schizophrenia suggests that working memory is important in integrating emotion and behaviour. This study aimed to examine avolition and anhedonia in patients with first-episode schizophrenia and clarify the role of working memory in emotion–behaviour coupling.
We recruited 72 participants with first-episode schizophrenia and 61 healthy controls, and used a validated emotion-inducing behavioural paradigm to measure participants' affective experiences and how experienced emotion coupled with behaviour. Participants were given the opportunity to expend effort to increase or decrease their exposure to emotion-inducing photographs. Participants with schizophrenia having poor working memory were compared with those with intact working memory in their liking and emotion–behaviour coupling.
Patients with first-episode schizophrenia experienced intact ‘in-the-moment’ emotion, but their emotion was less predictive of the effort expended, compared with controls. The emotion–behaviour coupling was significantly weaker in patients with schizophrenia with poor working memory than in those with intact working memory. However, compared with controls, patients with intact working also showed substantial emotion–behaviour decoupling.
Our findings provide strong evidence for emotion–behaviour decoupling in first-episode schizophrenia. Although working memory deficits contribute to defective translation of liking into effortful behaviour, schizophrenia alone affects emotion–behaviour coupling.
Dysregulation of the striatum and altered corticostriatal connectivity have been associated with psychotic disorders. Social anhedonia has been identified as a predictor for the development of schizophrenia spectrum disorders. The aim of the present study was to examine corticostriatal functional connectivity in individuals with high social anhedonia.
Twenty-one participants with high social anhedonia score and 30 with low social anhedonia score measured by the Chinese version of the Revised Social Anhedonia Scale were recruited from university undergraduates (age 17–21 years) to undergo resting-state functional MRI scans. Six subdivisions of the striatum in each hemisphere were defined as seeds. Voxel-wise functional connectivity analyses were conducted between each seed and the whole brain voxels, followed by repeated-measures ANOVA for the group effect.
Participants with high social anhedonia showed hyper-connectivity between the ventral striatum and the anterior cingulate cortex and the insula, and between the dorsal striatum and the motor cortex. Hypo-connectivity in participants with high social anhedonia was also observed between the ventral striatum and the posterior cingulate cortex. Partial correlation analyses further showed that the functional connectivity between the ventral striatum and the prefrontal cortex was associated with pleasure experience and emotional suppression.
Our findings suggest that altered corticostriatal connectivity can be found in participants with high levels of social anhedonia. Since social anhedonia has been considered a predictor for schizophrenia spectrum disorders, our results may provide novel evidence on the early changes in brain functional connectivity in at-risk individuals.
Delusional disorder (DD) is thought to be distinct from schizophrenia (SZ). However, few systematic investigations have been conducted on DD because of the difficulty in ascertaining a representative sample size. Existing knowledge has been mostly generated from inpatient cohorts, which may be biased towards a more severe sample.
We compared the demographic, clinical and cognitive differences between 71 patients with first-episode DD and 71 age-matched patients with first-episode SZ. Participants were consecutively recruited from a population-based territory-wide study of early psychosis in Hong Kong targeting first-episode psychosis. Basic demographic information, premorbid functioning, duration of untreated psychosis, pathways to care, symptomatology, social, occupational, and cognitive functioning were comprehensively assessed using standardized measurements.
Patients with DD had less premorbid schizoid and schizotypal traits compared to patients with SZ. More patients with DD were married compared to patients with SZ. However, at first episode, there were no significant differences between the two groups in regards to the duration of untreated psychosis, pathways to care, symptom severity, neurocognitive performance, treatment, and functioning.
Our findings challenge previous thinking that patients with DD had better functioning than patients with SZ. This study not only provides an updated perspective into conceptualizing the clinical differences between DD and SZ, but also expands the descriptive account of the two disorders to include the neurocognitive dimension.
To assess the effectiveness of infection control preparedness for human infection with influenza A H7N9 in Hong Kong.
A descriptive study of responses to the emergence of influenza A H7N9.
A university-affiliated teaching hospital.
Healthcare workers (HCWs) with unprotected exposure (not wearing N95 respirator during aerosol-generating procedure) to a patient with influenza A H7N9.
A bundle approach including active and enhanced surveillance, early airborne infection isolation, rapid molecular diagnostic testing, and extensive contact tracing for HCWs with unprotected exposure was implemented. Seventy HCWs with unprotected exposure to an index case were interviewed especially regarding their patient care activities.
From April 1, 2013, through May 31, 2014, a total of 126 (0.08%) of 163,456 admitted patients were tested for the H7 gene by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction per protocol. Two confirmed cases were identified. Seventy (53.8%) of 130 HCWs had unprotected exposure to an index case, whereas 41 (58.6%) and 58 (82.9%) of 70 HCWs wore surgical masks and practiced hand hygiene after patient care, respectively. Sixteen (22.9%) of 70 HCWs were involved in high-risk patient contacts. More HCWs with high-risk patient contacts received oseltamivir prophylaxis (P=0.088) and significantly more had paired sera collected for H7 antibody testing (P<0.001). Ten (14.3%) of 70 HCWs developed influenza-like illness during medical surveillance, but none had positive results by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. Paired sera was available from 33 of 70 HCWs with unprotected exposure, and none showed seroconversion against H7N9.
Despite the delay in airborne precautions implementation, no patient-to-HCW transmission of influenza A H7N9 was demonstrated.