Author Interviews, Compliance, Lancet, Mental Health Research, Schizophrenia / 27.02.2017 Interview with: Ernst L Noordraven MSc, PhD student Department of Psychiatry Epidemiological and Social Psychiatric Research institute Erasmus University Medical Center Rotterdam Netherlands What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Provision of financial incentives is a promising intervention for improving adherence in patients taking antipsychotic medication. We aimed to assess the effectiveness of this intervention for improving adherence to antipsychotic depot medication in patients with psychotic disorders, irrespective of their previous compliance. Our 12-month randomized controlled trial showed that financial incentives improved adherence to antipsychotic depot medications in patients with psychotic disorders, regardless of their level of compliance at study entrance. Patients received either treatment as usual plus a financial reward for each depot of medication received (€30 per month if fully compliant; intervention group) or treatment as usual alone (control group). Based on the use of depot registrations from 155 patients (92%), the adjusted difference in adherence was 14·9% (95% CI 8·9–20·9%; p<0·0001) in favour of the intervention group. Our study is also the first to demonstrate that the effects on medication adherence persist after monetary rewards are discontinued, for at least a 6-month follow-up period (adjusted difference 6·5%, 95% CI 2·0–10·9; p=0·047). (more…)
Author Interviews, Eating Disorders, Mental Health Research, Weight Research / 24.02.2017 Interview with: Andres M Lozano OC, MD PhD FRCSC FRSC University Professor, University of Toronto Dan Family Professor and Chairman of Neurosurgery RR Tasker Chair in Functional Neurosurgery Canada Research Chair in Neuroscience Toronto Western Hospital Toronto What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We discovered an area of the brain that is overactive in patients with depression and anxiety the subcallosal cingulate area (SCC). As these problems feature prominently in patients with Anorexia, we hypothesized that adjusting thie activity of this brain area with Deep brain stimulation (DBS) could be helpful. Our findings suggest that DBS in anorexia patients is relatively safe, can normalize abnormal brain activity and may help some with severe and resistant symptoms. (more…)
Author Interviews, Mental Health Research, OBGYNE, Pediatrics / 24.02.2017 Interview with: Shannon K. de l’Etoile, Ph.D., MT-BC Associate Dean of Graduate Studies Professor, Music Therapy University of Miami Phillip and Patricia Frost School of Music Coral Gables, FL What is the background for this study? Response: Infant-directed (ID) singing allows infants to have emotionally-synchronized interactions with caregivers, during which they gain valuable experience in self-regulation. Maternal depression can disrupt mother-infant interaction, thus hindering infants’ efforts at self-regulation and possibly contributing to a depressed interaction style that can generalize to infant interaction with strangers. Additionally, maternal depression can alter the acoustic parameters of ID singing, such that mothers may not modify musical elements (i.e., tempo and key), to accommodate infant state. (more…)
Author Interviews, Gender Differences, JAMA, Johns Hopkins, Mental Health Research, Pediatrics / 21.02.2017 Interview with: Julia R.G. Raifman, ScD Post-doctoral fellow Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health What is the background for this study? Response: Suicide is the second leading cause of death among adolescents between the ages of 15 and 24 years old in the United States. Gay, lesbian, and bisexual adolescents have elevated rates of suicide attempts. In our study, we found that 29% of gay, lesbian, and bisexual adolescents reported attempting suicide in the past year relative to 6% of heterosexual adolescents. (more…)
Author Interviews, Columbia, Mental Health Research, Nature, PTSD / 14.02.2017 Interview with: Christine Ann Denny, Ph.D. Assistant Professor Department of Psychiatry Columbia University Division of Integrative Neuroscience Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene, Inc. New York, NY 10032-2695 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is one of the most common psychiatric illnesses, affecting about 8 million adult Americans, and an annual prevalence of about 3.5% worldwide. At-risk populations such as soldiers and veterans are at a higher risk to develop PTSD. Stress exposure is one of the major risk factors for PTSD and major depressive disorder (MDD), a disorder which is often co-morbid with PTSD. There are currently very limited treatments for PTSD and MDD. In addition, these disorders are treated in a symptom-suppression approach, which only mitigate symptoms and work in only a small fraction of patients. Prevention is rarely an approach considered except in the form of behavioral intervention. However, pharmacological approaches to preventing psychiatric diseases has not yet been developed. Our laboratory has previously found that ketamine, a general anesthetic and rapid-acting antidepressant, administered sub-anesthetically prior to stress can prevent against stress-induced depressive-like behaviors. We decided to delve into the literature to determine whether ketamine has any effects on PTSD in the clinic. We found numerous reports linking ketamine to PTSD, but the results were varied. We realized that the main difference in all of these studies was the timing of administration. We decided to systematically test the efficacy of ketamine in mice at various time points relative to a stressor to determine when would be the most effective window to buffer against heightened fear expression. We found that ketamine administered 1 week, but not 1 month or 1 day, prior to a stressor was the most effective time point to administer the drug to buffer fear. This is critical, as it suggests that a pharmacological approach to enhance resilience can be more effective at protecting against PTSD symptoms than attempting to mitigate symptoms after it has already affected an individual. (more…)
ALS, Author Interviews, Brain Injury, Mental Health Research, PLoS, Technology / 12.02.2017 Interview with: Dr. Ujwal Chaudhary, PhD Institute of Medical Psychology and Behavioral Neurobiology University of Tübingen Tübingen, Germany What is the background for this study? Response: Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder which causes an Individual to be in Locked-in state (LIS), i.e. the patients have control of their vertical eye movement and blinking, and ultimately in Completely Locked-in state (CLIS), i.e, no control over their eye muscle. There are several assistive and augmentative (AAC) technology along with EEG based BCI which can be used be by the patients in LIS for communication but once they are in CLIS they do not have any means of communication.  Hence, there was a need to find an alternative learning paradigm and probably another neuroimaging technique to design a more effective BCI to help ALS patient in CLIS with communication. (more…)
Author Interviews, Exercise - Fitness, Karolinski Institute, Mental Health Research, PLoS / 11.02.2017 Interview with: soccer; creative commons imageTorbjörn Vestberg Licensed Psychologist & Researcher Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet Stockholm, Sweden What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The aim of our research is to study the importance of executive functions for successful behaviour. In our first study published in 2012 (Executive Functions Predict the Success of Top-Soccer Players) we showed that the level of elite soccer players’ higher executive functions was in general 2 standard deviations above the normal population. It was the same for both men and women. Moreover, we also found a strong correlation between the capacities of higher executive functions and the number of goals and assists the player made after two and a half year. In our new study we were interested in how the situation is at a younger age, from twelve to nineteen years of age. Because of the maturation of the brain, higher executive functions do not reach their full capacity before nineteen years of age. On basis of this, our question was whether there were other parts of the executive functions that correlated with success in soccer. In this new study, we focused on core executive functions like the working memory, as it reaches its full capacity in the early teens. We found that there was a moderate correlation with the accuracy of the working memory and the number of goals the junior elite players made during a period of two years. When we made a composite measurement of both the demanding working memory and the test for the capacity of the higher executive functions, we found a strong correlation between these results and the number of goals that the players made during the two years of time. When we measured IQ and physical features, like length, we found out that those did not influence the results. (more…)
Author Interviews, Mental Health Research, Pediatrics, Technology / 09.02.2017 Interview with: Dr. Christopher J. Ferguson PhD Professor of Psychology Stetson University What is the background for this study? Response: The degree to which screen time influences youth across a variety of behavioral outcomes has been a source of debate and contention for decades. For many years the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended to parents that they allow older children no more than 2 hours of screen time per day. However, this number was never clearly based on good data. And in 2014 one study (Przybylski, 2014 in Pediatrics) suggested that ties between screen time and behavioral outcomes were very weak, and only seen for the most extreme screen users. So I was curious to see if these results would replicate for a large sample of US youth. (more…)
Author Interviews, Mental Health Research, Neurological Disorders, Psychological Science / 27.01.2017 Interview with: Dr. Roberta Riccelli Magna Graecia University Catanzaro, Italy What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: In recent years, there has been a growing interest in personality neuroscience, an emergent field of research exploring how the extraordinary variety of human behaviors arise from different patterns of brain function and structure. According to psychologists, the extraordinary variety of human personality can be broken down into the so-called ‘Big Five’ personality traits, namely neuroticism (how moody a person is), extraversion (how enthusiastic a person is), openness (how open-minded a person is), agreeableness (a measure of altruism), and conscientiousness (a measure of self-control). However, the relationships between personality profile and brain shape remains still poorly characterized and understood. The findings of our study highlighted that the personality type characterizing each person is connected to the brain shape of several regions implicated in emotional behaviors and control. We found that neuroticism, a personality trait underlying mental illnesses such as anxiety disorders, was linked to a thicker cortex (the brain's outer layer of neural tissue) and a smaller area and folding in some brain regions. Conversely, openness, a trait reflecting curiosity and creativity, was associated to thinner cortex and greater area and folding in the brain. The other personality traits were linked to other differences in brain structure, such as agreeableness being correlated with a thinner prefrontal cortex (which is linked to empathy and other social skills). Overall, all the traits characterizing this model of personality are related to some features (e.g. thickness, area and folding) of brain regions implicated in attention, salience detection of stimuli and emotion processing. This could reflect the fact that many personality traits are linked to high-level socio-cognitive skills as well as the ability to modulate ‘core’ affective responses. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Mental Health Research, PTSD / 27.01.2017 Interview with: David Mataix-Cols PhD Centre for Psychiatry Research, Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm Health Care Services, Stockholm County Council Stockholm, Sweden What is the background for this study? Response: Exposure-based Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is the treatment of choice for patients with anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and post-traumatic stress disorders. Some patients do not respond sufficiently to such treatment. This has led researchers to find ways to augment (enhance) CBT with pharmacological agents, such as D-cycloserine (DCS). Because CBT is such a powerful treatment for most patients, we suspected that the effects of DCS would probably be small. This means that very large samples of patients are needed to show statistically significant differences between groups. Previous studies and meta-analyses were underpowered to detect such small effects. Combining the raw data from all available studies to date gave us the power we needed to address the question of whether DCS is an efficacious augmenting strategy, over and above CBT. We also had a second research question. Previous research from our group had suggested that there may be undesirable interactions between DCS and antidepressants, whereby patients taking both types of drugs would have significantly worse outcomes (see Andersson et al JAMA Psychiatry. 2015 Jul;72(7):659-67. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2015.0546). (more…)
Addiction, Author Interviews, Mental Health Research / 20.01.2017 Interview with: Emily Brignone, BS Informatics, Decision Enhancement, and Analytic Sciences Center VA Salt Lake City Health Care System, Salt Lake City, Department of Psychology Utah State University, Logan, Utah What is the background for this study? Response: Nearly 30% of active duty Veterans of post-9/11 conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are discharged from military service for reasons other than expired term of service or retirement. These non-routine discharges can occur for a variety of reasons, including disability, failure to meet or maintain qualifications, early release, or misconduct. Veterans discharged under non-routine conditions are at greater risk for several concerning outcomes during the reintegration period, including unemployment, incarceration, homelessness, and suicide. A better understanding of the context of the transition from military service to civilian life, including discharge type, may provide opportunities for mitigating risk for these negative outcomes. One potential indicator for the conditions surrounding this transition is the administrative code that the Department of Defense assigns to active duty military service members at the time of their separation from service. These codes describe the circumstances related to discharge, and can serve as clinically significant early markers for post-deployment mental illness, substance use disorders, and suicidality, and thereby subsequent adverse reintegration outcomes. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Mental Health Research, Pulmonary Disease / 06.01.2017 Interview with: Meng-Ting Wang, PhD Associate Professor School of Pharmacy National Defense Medical Center Taipei, Taiwan What is the background for this study? Response: During the past decades, there have been multiple case reports about acute respiratory distress or acute respiratory failure (ARF) from the use of antipsychotics. Nevertheless, no population-based studies have been conducted to examine this potential drug safety issue. We aimed to investigate the association between use of antipsychotics and risk of ARF in a population of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), who is vulnerable to ARF and frequently prescribed with antipsychotics. (more…)
Author Interviews, Mental Health Research, PLoS, Psychological Science / 02.12.2016 Interview with: Dr-Gunther-Meinlschmidt.jpg Prof. Dr. Gunther Meinlschmidt, Psych University of Basel, Department of Psychology, Division of Clinical Psychology and Epidemiology Faculty of Medicine Switzerland What is the background for this study? Response: Physical diseases and mental disorders affect a person’s quality of life. Further, they present a huge challenge for the healthcare system. It has been reported that physical and mental disorders systematically co-occur already early in life. What we wanted to know is whether there are certain temporal patterns between mental disorders and physical diseases during childhood and adolescence. A better understanding of such patterns may help to reveal processes that could be relevant both to the origins of physical diseases and mental disorders and to their treatment. (more…)
Author Interviews, Gastrointestinal Disease, Mental Health Research, Nature, Probiotics / 02.12.2016 Interview with: Elizabeth Bryda, PhD Professor, Director, Rat Resource and Research Center Veterinary Pathobiology University of Missouri Columbia, Missouri What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: A number of groups have demonstrated the ability of probiotics to benefit digestive health and there is a growing body of evidence to suggest an association between mental health and “gut health”. We were interested to see if probiotic bacteria could decrease anxiety- or stress-related behavior in a controlled setting using zebrafish as our model organism of choice for these studies. We were able to show that Lactobacillus plantarum decreased overall anxiety-related behavior and protected against stress-induced dysbiosis (microbial imbalance). The fact that administration of probiotic bacteria also protected other resident gut bacteria from the dramatic changes seen in “stressed” fish not receiving the probiotic was unexpected and suggested that these bacteria may be working at the level of the GI tract and the central nervous system. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Mental Health Research / 19.11.2016 Interview with: Guillermo Horga, MD, PhD Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry Columbia University Medical Center What is the background for this study? Response: Some people who eventually develop schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders have early “prodromal” symptoms such as subtle perceptual abnormalities and unusual thoughts that precede the onset of these disorders by months or even years. These subtle symptoms are typically not fully formed or met with full conviction, which distinguishes them from full-blown symptoms of psychosis. The “prodromal” phase has been the subject of intense study as researchers believe it can provide an invaluable window into the neurobiological processes that cause psychotic disorders as well as an opportunity to develop early preventive interventions. Persons who experience “prodromal” symptoms (known as “clinical high-risk” individuals) tend to report a variety of relatively subtle perceptual abnormalities (e.g., heightened sensitivity to sounds, distortions in how objects are perceived, momentarily hearing voices of speakers who are not present), unusual thoughts, and disorganized speech, some of which have been shown to be particularly informative in distinguishing who among these persons will eventually develop a full-blown psychotic disorder, a prediction that is clinically important as it may indicate the need for close monitoring of individuals who are at the greatest risk. Even though subtle perceptual abnormalities are common in this population, the available research indicates that they are as a whole uninformative for clinical prediction purposes. However, previous research in this area had never examined in detail whether assessing perceptual abnormalities in different sensory domains (such as visual versus auditory abnormalities) separately could be more informative than assessing them as a whole. (more…)
Accidents & Violence, Author Interviews, JAMA, Karolinski Institute, Mental Health Research / 01.11.2016 Interview with: Zheng Chang PhD Dept. of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics Karolinska Institutet and Seena Fazel MD Department of Psychiatry Warneford Hospital University of Oxford, Oxford, England What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: There were more than 10 million prisoners worldwide in 2015, with approximately 2.2 million in the United States alone. Despite reported decreases in violence in many countries, reoffending rates remain high. From 2005 through 2010, more than one-third of released prisoners in the United States and the United Kingdom were reconvicted of a new crime within 2 years. Most programs to reduce reoffending focus on psychosocial interventions, but their effect sizes are weak to moderate. As psychiatric and substance use disorders, which increase reoffending rates, are overrepresented among jail and prison populations. This study investigated the main psychotropic medication classes prescribed to prisoners using longitudinal Swedish population registers and examined the association between prescription of psychotropic medication and risk of violent reoffending. We found that three classes of psychotropic medications were associated with substantial reductions in violent reoffending: antipsychotics, a 42% reduction; psychostimulants, 38%; and drugs used in addictive disorders, a 52% reduction. The magnitudes of these associations were as strong as and possibly stronger than those for widely disseminated psychological programs in prison. (more…)
Author Interviews, Bipolar Disorder, Mental Health Research, Pediatrics, Schizophrenia / 21.10.2016 Interview with: Merete Nordentoft DrMSc Professor, chief Psychiatrist University of Copenhagen Mental Health Centre Copenhagen What is the background for this study? Response: We knew that children born to parents with mental illness had an increased risk for developing a mental disorder them selves, either the same disorder as their parent or another menal disorder. We also knew that some of these children would have pootrt motor function and other difficulties in functioning. However previous studies were smaller, they were not based on a representative sample, and children were at different age. That is the background for The Danish High Risk and Resilience Study-VIA 7, in which a large group of 522 children and their families were thoroughly assessed. The children were seven year old, and 202 had a parent who had schizophrenia, 120 had a parent with bipolar disorder and 200 had parent with neither of these disorders. (more…)
Author Interviews, Columbia, JAMA, Mental Health Research, OBGYNE, Pediatrics / 13.10.2016 Interview with: Alan S. Brown, M.D., M.P.H. Professor of Psychiatry and Epidemiology Columbia University Medical Center Director, Program in Birth Cohort Studies, Division of Epidemiology New York State Psychiatric Institute What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Maternal use of antidepressants during pregnancy has been increasing.  A previous study from a team that I led in a national birth cohort in Finland showed that mother’s use of a serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressant is related to an increased risk of depression in offspring.  We sought to evaluate whether these medications also increased risk of speech/language, scholastic, and motor outcomes in offspring.  We found an increased risk (37% higher risk) of speech/language disorders in offspring of mothers exposed to SSRIs in pregnancy compared to mothers who were depressed during pregnancy but did not take an SSRI during pregnancy. (more…)
Author Interviews, Depression, Mental Health Research, Pharmacology / 09.10.2016 Interview with: Antony Loebel, M.D. Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, Sunovion, Head of Global Clinical Development for Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma GroupAntony Loebel, M.D. Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer Sunovion Head of Global Clinical Development Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma Group What is the background for this study? Response: Early predictors of subsequent clinical response are important in the treatment of depression, since 6-10 weeks of treatment are often required before full antidepressant response may occur. Early identification of patients who are unlikely to eventually achieve a response permits clinicians to intervene early to adjust the dose of medication, or switch to an alternative therapy. Multiple studies in major depressive disorder (MDD, unipolar) have reported that early improvement at 2 weeks is significantly predictive of treatment response at 6-8 weeks.The most common early improvement criterion is a 20-25% reduction in the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D) or the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) scores1-6. Major depressive disorder with mixed features (MDD-MF) has recently been recognized as a diagnostic subtype in DSM-5. No research we are aware of has examined the predictive value of early improvement in patients diagnosed with MDD-MF. The aim of the current post-hoc analysis was to evaluate the value of early improvement in the MADRS or the Clinical Global Impressions, Severity (CGI-S) scale as predictors of response to lurasidone in patients with MDD-MF. (more…)
Author Interviews, Education, JAMA, Mental Health Research, Pediatrics / 06.10.2016 Interview with: Laurie Miller Brotman, PhD Bezos Family Foundation Professor of Early Childhood Development Director, Center for Early Childhood Health and Development Department of Population Health NYU Langone Medical Center What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Children attending high-poverty schools are often exposed to an accumulation of stressors and adverse childhood experiences that can interfere with optimal mental health and learning. This study examines mental health and academic outcomes through second grade in nearly 800 Black and Latino children who participated in a randomized controlled trial of ParentCorps--a family-centered, school-based intervention in pre-kindergarten. In the original trial, elementary schools with pre-k programs serving primarily Black and Latino children from low-income families were randomized to receive ParentCorps or standard pre-k programming. ParentCorps includes professional development for pre-k and kindergarten teachers on family engagement, social-emotional learning, and behavioral regulation, and a program for families and pre-k students provided over four months at the school by specially trained pre-k teachers and mental health professionals. ParentCorps creates a space for families to come together, reflect on their cultural values and beliefs, and set goals for their children. Parents learn a set of evidence-based strategies and choose which ones fit for their families—such as helping children solve problems and manage strong feelings, reinforcing positive behavior, setting clear rules and expectations, and providing effective consequences for misbehavior. Teachers and parents help children learn social, emotional and behavioral regulation skills such as identifying feeling sad, mad, or scared, calming bodies during stressful situations, paying attention, and solving problems together. This three year follow-up study finds that ParentCorps as an enhancement to pre-k programming in high-poverty schools results in fewer mental health problems (behavioral and emotional problems) and better academic performance through second grade. (more…)
Author Interviews, Bone Density, JAMA, Mental Health Research, Mineral Metabolism, Pediatrics / 06.10.2016 Interview with: Alexis Jamie Feuer MD Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics Weill Cornell Medical College What is the background for this study? Response: Osteoporosis is a debilitating disorder characterized by low bone density and increased risk of fractures. Adolescence and young adulthood are critically important times for accruing peak bone density and failure to obtain adequate bone mass by early adulthood may result in future osteoporosis. In children, the use of certain medications can lead to a decrement in the acquisition of bone mass. Past studies have shown that stimulant medications, such as those used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), may slow the rate of linear growth in children. To date, little research has been done to see what effects stimulant use may have on bone density and bone accrual in children. Stimulants exert their effects via activation of the sympathetic nervous system, and as there is mounting evidence that indicates the sympathetic nervous system plays a critical role in the acquisition of bone density, we sought to determine if there is any association between stimulant medication use and bone mass in the pediatric population. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Karolinski Institute, Mental Health Research / 05.10.2016 Interview with: Gustaf Brander Department of Clinical Neuroscience Karolinska Institutet What is the background for this study? Response: Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is believed to be caused by a complex interaction between genetic and environmental factors. Whereas genetic studies are well underway, the research on environmental factors has been lagging behind. As they explain a significant portion of the variance, are potentially malleable, and are essential for understanding how the genetic component works, this area of research is of great importance. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Cognitive Issues, Education, Lancet, Leukemia, Mental Health Research, Pediatrics / 04.10.2016 Interview with: Yin Ting Cheung, PhD Department of Epidemiology and Cancer Control and Noah D Sabin, MD Department of Diagnostic Imaging St Jude Children's Research Hospital Memphis, TN What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Long-term survivors of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) who are treated with high-dose intravenous methotrexate or intrathecal chemotherapy are at risk for neurocognitive impairment, particularly in cognitive processes such as processing speed, attention and executive function. However, many children who receive these therapies do not experience significant impairments, suggesting the need for biomarkers to identify patients at greatest risk. Prior research from our team demonstrated that, during chemotherapy, patients were at risk for white matter changes in the brain, also known as leukoencephalopathy. No studies documented the persistence or impact of brain leukoencephalopathy in long-term survivors of childhood ALL treated on contemporary chemotherapy-only protocols. In this study, we included prospective neuroimaging from active therapy to long-term follow-up, and comprehensive assessment of brain structural and functional outcomes in long-term survivors of ALL treated with contemporary risk-adapted chemotherapy. We demonstrated that survivors who developed leukoencephalopathy during therapy displayed more neurobehavioral problems at more than 5 years post-diagnosis. Moreover, these survivors also had reduced white matter integrity at long-term follow-up, and these structural abnormalities were concurrently associated with the neurobehavioral problems. (more…)
Author Interviews, Education, Mental Health Research, University of Michigan / 25.09.2016 Interview with: Katherine J. Gold, MD MSW MS Department of Family Medicine Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation; Depression Center University of Michigan With co-authors Louise B. Andrew MD JD; Edward B. Goldman JD; Thomas L. Schwenk MD What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: It is common knowledge that physicians are often hesitant to seek care for mental health concerns. Knowing that female physicians have increased rates of both depression and suicide, we surveyed female physicians who were mothers and who participated in a closed FaceBook group about their mental health, treatment, and opinions about licensing. More than 2100 U.S. physicians responded, representing all specialties and states. Almost half of participants reported that at some point since medical school they had met criteria for a mental illness but didn’t seek treatment. Reasons included feeling like they could get through without help (68%), did not have the time (52%), felt a diagnosis would be embarrassing or shameful (45%), did not want to ever have to report to a medical board or hospital (44%), and were afraid colleagues would find out (39%). Overall, 2/3 identified a stigma-related reason for not seeking help. Almost half reported prior diagnosis or treatment, but just 6% of these women stated they had disclosed this to a state medical board on a licensing application, though states vary on what information they require be disclosed. (more…)
Abuse and Neglect, Mental Health Research, Psychological Science, Technology / 15.09.2016 Interview with: Yu Chen, Ph.D. Post-doc researcher Department of Informatics University of California, Irvine What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: College students are facing increasing amount of stress these days. We are interested in leveraging information technology to help them become happier. We week to implement happiness-boosting exercises in positive psychology using technology in a lightweight way. Since college students frequently take photos using their smartphones, we started to investigate how to use smartphone photography to help students conduct the happiness-boosting exercises. Participants were divided into three groups and instructed to take a photo per day in one of the following three conditions: 1) a smiling selfie; 2) a photo of something that makes himself/herself happy; 3) a photo of something that makes another person happy, which is then sent to that person. We found that participants have become more positive after purposefully taking the assigned type of photo for three weeks. Participants who took photos that make others happy also became calmer. Some participants who took smiling selfies reported becoming more confident and comfortable with their smiles. Those who took photos to make themselves happy reported becoming more reflective and appreciative. Participants who took photos to make others happy found connecting with strong ties help them reduce stress. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Genetic Research, Mental Health Research, Ovarian Cancer, Psychological Science / 31.08.2016 Interview with: Mag. Dr. Anne Oberguggenberger PhD Medizinische Universität Innsbruck Department für Psychiatrie, Psychotherapie und Psychosomatik Innsbruck Austria What is the background for this study? Response: Genetic counseling and testing is increasingly integrated in routine clinical care for breast- and ovarian cancer (BOC). Knowledge on follow-up psychosocial outcomes in all different groups of counselees is essential in order to improve follow-up care and counselees’ quality of life. (more…)
Author Interviews, Mental Health Research, Schizophrenia, Telemedicine / 26.08.2016 Interview with: Dror Ben Zeev, PhD Associate Professor of Psychiatry Director, mHealth for Mental Health Program Dartmouth College Hanover, NH What is the background for this study? Response: We deployed a mobile phone intervention called FOCUS as part of a larger multi-component effort called Improving Care Reducing Costs (ICRC). ICRC was the first technology-aided relapse prevention program of its kind for people with schizophrenia; a very exciting multi-state project funded by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) led by Dr. John Kane at the Zucker Hillside Hospital and a team of researchers from multiple institutions. Several other technological interventions were used in concert with mHealth, including a web intervention called Coping with Voices Developed by Dr. Jen Gottlieb and a Daily Support Website developed by Dr. Armando Rotondi. A truly multi-disciplinary effort designed to help prevent re-hospitalization in people with psychosis who were recently discharged from the hospital; this is a group that is at very high risk for relapse. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Mental Health Research, Sleep Disorders / 26.08.2016 Interview with: Donna Littlewood PhD School of Health Sciences Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health The University of Manchester What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: This was the first qualitative study to examine the role of sleep problems in relation to suicidal thoughts and behaviours. In-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with 18 participants, who all had experienced major depressive episode(s) and suicidal thoughts and behaviours. Data were analysed with thematic analysis which identified three interrelated pathways whereby sleep contributed to suicidal thoughts and behaviours. The first was that being awake at night heightened the risks of suicidal thoughts and attempts, which in part was seen as a consequence of the lack of help or resources available at night. Secondly, the research found that a prolonged failure to achieve a good night's sleep made life harder for respondents, adding to depression, as well as increasing negative thinking, attention difficulties and inactivity. Finally, participants said sleep acted as an alternative to suicide, providing an escape from their problems. However, the desire to use sleep as an avoidance tactic led to increased day time sleeping which in turn caused disturbed sleeping patterns - reinforcing the first two pathways. (more…)
Author Interviews, Mental Health Research / 25.08.2016 Interview with: Ian Rockett, PhD, MPH, FACE Professor, Department of Epidemiology School of Public Health West Virginia University Morgantown, WV What is the background for this study? Response: Self-injury deaths in the United States are seriously underestimated because they are officially limited to registered suicides, and exclude non-suicide deaths from drug self-intoxication. Suicides themselves are undercounted due primarily to under-resourcing of medical examiner and coroner offices and associated challenges in detecting drug suicides. Although most drug-intoxication deaths involve deliberate behaviors that markedly elevate risk of premature death, they are formally classified, but mischaracterized, as “accidents” on death certificates. Representing self-injury mortality (SIM) as a combination of registered suicides and estimated deaths from drug self-intoxication (DDSI), this study compared its national trends and patterns with those of 3 proximally ranked top 10 causes of death. (more…)
Author Interviews, Autism, Diabetes, Mental Health Research / 25.08.2016 Interview with: Evdokia Anagnostou MD Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Translational Therapeutics in Autism Senior Clinician Scientist and co-lead of the Autism Research Centre Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Researchers from Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital / University of Toronto (Canada), Ohio State University, University of Pittsburgh, Columbia University, and Vanderbilt University, led a double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized clinical trial to examine whether metformin, a common type-2 diabetes drug, may be effective in counteracting weight gain commonly seen with the use of atypical antipsychotic medications, indicated by the FDA for the treatment of irritability in children and youth with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Results showed that metformin was effective in helping overweight children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who take antipsychotic medications lower their body mass index (BMI). Both FDA-approved antipsychotic medications for treating irritability and agitation symptoms in children and adolescents with ASD can cause a significant increase in weight gain, which in addition to increasing BMI, enhances long-term risk of diabetes. This complicates an already challenging issue as adolescents with autism spectrum disorder are ~ two times more likely to be obese than adolescents without developmental disabilities. Findings of this research are important, especially for families of children with ASD, as managing long-term physical health while also treating irritability/agitation symptoms, can help ensure that their child can participate fully in life (school, etc.). (more…)