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Sex differences in symptomatology in people with psychosis have been studied extensively in recent decades. Although studies have pointed to such differences, to date there is no review that has performed a systematic search and quantitative synthesis. In this paper, we describe the protocol for a pairwise meta-analysis comparing a range of symptom outcome measures between men and women diagnosed with a psychotic spectrum disorder at different stages of the disorder (PROSPERO registration number CRD42021264942). In August 2021 we conducted systematic searches of PsychInfo, PubMed, Web of Science, Scopus and Dialnet to identify observational studies that report data on symptoms for males and females separately. Two independent reviewers will conduct literature searches, select studies, extract data, assess the risk of bias and assess outcome quality. To assess the effect size of all outcome measures, we will conduct pairwise meta-analysis using random-effects models. The quality of studies will be evaluated using a National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute's quality assessment tool and the confidence in the results will be evaluated using the GRADE tool. Meta-regression and sensitivity analyses will be conducted to assess the robustness of the findings. No ethical problems are foreseen. Results from this study will be published in peer-reviewed journals and presented at relevant conferences.
The Discrimination and Stigma Scale (DISC) is a patient-reported outcome measure which assesses experiences of discrimination among persons with a mental illness globally.
This study evaluated whether the psychometric properties of a short-form version, DISC-Ultra Short (DISCUS) (11-item), could be replicated in a sample of people with a wide range of mental disorders from 21 sites in 15 countries/territories, across six global regions. The frequency of experienced discrimination was reported. Scaling assumptions (confirmatory factor analysis, inter-item and item-total correlations), reliability (internal consistency) and validity (convergent validity, known groups method) were investigated in each region, and by diagnosis group.
1195 people participated. The most frequently reported experiences of discrimination were being shunned or avoided at work (48.7%) and discrimination in making or keeping friends (47.2%). Confirmatory factor analysis supported a unidimensional model across all six regions and five diagnosis groups. Convergent validity was confirmed in the total sample and within all regions [ Internalised Stigma of Mental Illness (ISMI-10): 0.28–0.67, stopping self: 0.54–0.72, stigma consciousness: −0.32–0.57], as was internal consistency reliability (α = 0.74–0.84). Known groups validity was established in the global sample with levels of experienced discrimination significantly higher for those experiencing higher depression [Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ)-2: p < 0.001], lower mental wellbeing [Warwick-Edinburgh Well-being Scale (WEMWBS): p < 0.001], higher suicidal ideation [Beck Hopelessness Scale (BHS)-4: p < 0.001] and higher risk of suicidal behaviour [Suicidal Ideation Attributes Scale (SIDAS): p < 0.001].
The DISCUS is a reliable and valid unidimensional measure of experienced discrimination for use in global settings with similar properties to the longer DISC. It offers a brief assessment of experienced discrimination for use in clinical and research settings.
Patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders (SSD) tend to lack insight, which is linked to poor outcomes. The effect size of previous treatments on insight changes in SSD has been small. Metacognitive interventions may improve insight in SSD, although this remains unproved.
We carried out a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to examine the effects of metacognitive interventions designed for SSD, namely Metacognitive Training (MCT) and Metacognitive Reflection and Insight Therapy (MERIT), on changes in cognitive and clinical insight at post-treatment and at follow-up.
Twelve RCTs, including 10 MCT RCTs (n = 717 participants) and two MERIT trials (n = 90), were selected, totalling N = 807 participants. Regarding cognitive insight six RCTs (n = 443) highlighted a medium effect of MCT on self-reflectiveness at post-treatment, d = 0.46, p < 0.01, and at follow-up, d = 0.30, p < 0.01. There was a small effect of MCT on self-certainty at post-treatment, d = −0.23, p = 0.03, but not at follow-up. MCT was superior to controls on an overall Composite Index of cognitive insight at post-treatment, d = 1.11, p < 0.01, and at follow-up, d = 0.86, p = 0.03, although we found evidence of heterogeneity. Of five MCT trials on clinical insight (n = 244 participants), which could not be meta-analysed, four of them favoured MCT compared v. control. The two MERIT trials reported conflicting results.
Metacognitive interventions, particularly Metacognitive Training, appear to improve insight in patients with SSD, especially cognitive insight shortly after treatment. Further long-term RCTs are needed to establish whether these metacognitive interventions-related insight changes are sustained over a longer time period and result in better outcomes.
Schizophrenia research based on traditional assessment measures for negative symptoms appears to be, to some extent, unreliable. The limitations of the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) and the Scale for the Assessment of Negative Symptoms (SANS) have been extensively acknowledged and should be taken into account. The aim of this study is to show how the PANSS and the SANS conflate negative symptoms and cognition and to offer alternatives for the limitations found.
A sample of 117 participants with schizophrenia from two independent studies was retrospectively investigated. Linear regression models were computed to explore the effect of negative symptoms and illness duration as predictors of cognitive performance.
For the PANSS, the item “abstract thinking” accounted for the association between negative symptoms and cognition. For the SANS, the “attention” subscale predicted the performance in verbal memory, but illness duration emerged as a stronger predictor than negative symptoms for outcomes of processing speed, verbal and working memory.
Utilizing alternative models to the traditional PANSS and SANS formats, and accounting for illness duration, provide more precise evidence on the relationship between negative symptoms and cognition. Since these measures are still extensively utilized, we recommend adopting more rigorous approaches to avoid misleading results.
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