The latest medical research on Psychiatry

The research magnet gathers the latest research from around the web, based on your specialty area. Below you will find a sample of some of the most recent articles from reputable medical journals about psychiatry gathered by our medical AI research bot.

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Mindfulness-based interventions for mental well-being among people with multiple sclerosis: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials.

Journal Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry

Impairment of mental well-being (anxiety, depression, stress) is common among people with multiple sclerosis (PwMS). Treatment options are limited, particularly for anxiety. The aim of this study was to update our previous systematic review (2014) and evaluate via meta-analysis the efficacy of mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) for improving mental well-being in PwMS.

Systematic searches for eligible randomised controlled trials (RCTs) were carried out in seven major databases (November 2017, July 2018), using medical subject headings and key words. Studies were screened, data extracted, quality appraised and analysed by two independent reviewers, using predefined criteria. Study quality was assessed using the Cochrane Collaboration risk of bias tool. Mental well-being was the primary outcome. Random effects model meta-analysis was performed, with effect size reported as standardised mean difference (SMD).

Twelve RCTs including 744 PwMS were eligible for inclusion in the systematic review, eight had data extractable for meta-analysis; n=635. Ethnicity, socioeconomic status, comorbidity and disability were inconsistently reported. MBIs varied from manualised to tailored versions, lasting 6-9 weeks, delivered individually and via groups, both in person and online. Overall SMD for mental well-being (eight studies) was 0.40 (0.28-0.53), p<0.01, I2=28%; against active comparators only (three studies) SMD was 0.17 (0.01-0.32), p<0.05, I2 =0%. Only three adverse events were reported.

MBIs are effective at improving mental well-being in PwMS. More research is needed regarding optimal delivery method, cost-effectiveness and comparative-effectiveness.


The Sydney Lindt café siege: The role of the consultant psychiatrist.

Australian and New Zealand Journal

In December 2014, after a 16-hour siege of the Lindt café in Sydney, Iranian-born gunman Man Haron Monis shot dead a hostage precipitating the police action which broke the siege.

This paper reviews the demographic and other factual details of Monis as documented by the NSW Coroner's Inquest and critically analyses the published findings of the Coroner particularly in relation to the role of the psychiatrist who advised senior police and negotiators during the siege.

At the time of the siege, there was no formal protocol that delineated the role of a psychiatrist in hostage negotiations. Despite the psychiatrist's credentials including his extensive experience with siege-hostage incidents and his counter-terrorist training, the Coroner was unfairly critical of the psychiatrist.

The Coroner's censure of the psychiatrist was clearly prejudiced by hindsight bias. During the siege, the psychiatrist properly considered and evaluated all the available intelligence and other information known about the gunman. As the psychiatrist advised, Monis was a narcissist and the siege was not an Islamic State-inspired terrorist attack. Given that he announced he was armed with a bomb, Monis represented a 'credible threat' to the hostages. The psychiatrist's endorsement of the police strategy to 'contain and negotiate' was prudent in the circumstances. The Coroner's disparagement of the senior psychiatrist may have the unintended consequence that psychiatrists may be reluctant to assist in hostage-sieges or other critical incidents.

Impact of natural menopause on multiple sclerosis: a multicentre study.

Journal Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry

To study the effect of natural menopause on multiple sclerosis clinical course.

This was an observational, retrospective, multicentre, cohort study. Menopause onset was defined by the final menstrual period (FMP) beyond which no menses occurred for 12 months. We included multiple sclerosis (MS) patients with FMP occurred after 2005 and a recorded follow-up of at least 2 years pre-FMP and post-FMP. We excluded patients with primary progressive course, iatrogenic menopause and with other confounders that could mask menopause onset. We compared relapse-rate and expanded disability status scale (EDSS) scores pre-FMP and post-FMP, searching for possible interactions with age, disease duration, cigarette smoking and nulliparity status.

148 patients were included (mean observation: 3.5 years pre-FMP and post-FMP). Most patients (92%) received disease-modifying therapies, mainly first-lines. After menopause the annualised relapse rate (ARR) significantly decreased (from 0.21±0.31 to 0.13± 0.24; p=0.005), while disability worsened (increase of mean 0.4 vs 0.2 points after menopause; p<0.001). Older age and long-lasting disease were associated with ARR reduction (p=0.013), but not with disability worsening. Cigarette smokers showed a trend to a higher disability accumulation after menopause (p=0.059).

Natural menopause seems to be a turning point to a more progressive phase of MS. Relapse rate is also reduced after menopause, but this effect could be driven most by ageing and shifting to progressive phase in patients with long-lasting disease. Cigarette smoking could speed up disability progression after menopause.

Comparative Efficacy and Acceptability of Pharmacological, Psychotherapeutic, and Combination Treatments in Adults With Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Network Meta-analysis.

JAMA Psychiatry

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a prevalent mental disorder, with a high risk of chronicity, comorbidity, and functional impairment; PTSD is complicated to treat, and the debate on the best treatment approach is ongoing.

To examine comparative outcomes and acceptability of psychotherapeutic and pharmacological treatments and their combinations in adults with PTSD.

Embase, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, Cochrane Controlled Trials Register, and PSYNDEX were searched for studies published from January 1, 1980, to February 28, 2018. Reference lists of included studies and of previously published guidelines and systematic reviews were also searched.

Of 11 417 records identified, 12 published randomized clinical trials (RCTs) comprising 922 participants, contributing 23 direct comparisons between psychotherapeutic and pharmacological treatments or their combinations were included.

Standardized mean differences (SMDs) and odds ratios were aggregated using random-effects network and pairwise meta-analyses. Risk of bias and indirectness was rated for each study, and network confidence was rated using the Confidence in Network Meta-Analysis framework.

The primary outcome was the comparative benefit between 2 treatment approaches to PTSD symptom improvement, and secondary outcome was the comparative acceptability of the treatment approaches, as indicated by patient dropout rates before treatment termination.

No treatment approach was found to be superior at the end of treatment (for all, 95% CI included 0). At the last follow-up, psychotherapeutic treatments showed greater benefit than pharmacological treatments in both network (SMD, -0.83; 95% CI, -1.59 to -0.07) and pairwise (SMD, -0.63; 95% CI, -1.18 to -0.09, 3 RCTs) meta-analyses. No difference was found between combined treatments and psychotherapeutic treatments at long-term follow-up, and combined treatments were associated with better outcomes than pharmacological treatments in the network meta-analysis (SMD, -0.96; 95% CI, -1.87 to -0.04), but not in the pairwise meta-analysis, which included 2 RCTs (SMD, -1.02; 95% CI, -2.77 to 0.72). No evidence was found for differential acceptability of the 3 treatment approaches.

These results suggest superiority of psychotherapeutic treatments over pharmacological treatments; network, but not pairwise, meta-analyses suggest superiority of combined treatments over pharmacological treatments in improving PTSD symptom severity in the long term. The scarcity of reported long-term findings hampers definite conclusions and demonstrates the need for robust evidence from large-scaled comparative trials providing long-term follow-up data.

History of abuse and neglect and their associations with mental health in rescued child labourers in Nepal.

Australian and New Zealand Journal

Little is known about rates of childhood maltreatment in low-income countries, particularly among marginalised sectors of society. Economic hardships mean that in such countries, many children and young people are exploited in the labour force and/or are trafficked, placing them at greater risk for being exposed to other forms of maltreatment. Cultural norms endorsing the use of physical and emotional acts to discipline children further exacerbate this risk. Here, we assessed the rates of childhood victimisation experiences and associated mental health problems in Nepalese youth rescued from illegal child labour including trafficking.

One hundred and three young people aged 12-18 years living in out-of-home care institutions and rescued from child labour/trafficking completed translated versions of selected modules from the Juvenile Victimisation Questionnaire, the Youth Inventory and the Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire. Care-home employees responsible for looking after the young people completed the Adolescent Symptom Inventory and the Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire. Analysis described maltreatment frequencies and compared individuals who had and had not experienced any form of maltreatment on the presence/absence of psychiatric diagnoses.

Seventy-two percent of participants experienced some form of maltreatment in their lifetime. Rates for each maltreatment type were 46.6% for physical abuse, 40.77% for emotional abuse, 27.2% for sexual abuse and 33% for neglect. Symptoms indicative of anxiety disorders and trauma were commonly reported especially in victims of childhood maltreatment.

Our estimates of physical abuse in this at-risk juvenile sample were commensurate to those reported in general-population youth samples in Nepal, but sexual and emotional abuse rates were somewhat lower. The potential presence of anxiety and trauma in this sample that may result from maltreatment requires replication, but underscores an urgent need for routine mental health screening in rescued child labourers during rehabilitation efforts.

A systematic review of efficacy of Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicidality (CAMS) in managing suicide risk and deliberate self-harm in adult populations.

Australasian Psychiatry

Evaluate the efficacy of Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicidality (CAMS) in managing suicide risk and deliberate self-harm in adults.

Ten databases were searched for publications referring to CAMS or the Suicide Status Form. Results were evaluated by two reviewers.

Limited evidence that CAMS is effective in reducing suicide risk and deliberate self-harm in adult populations.

Although CAMS appears to show promise in managing suicidal patients across a range of measures, further evidence is needed to clarify its efficacy in managing suicide risk and deliberate self-harm.

Education modulates brain maintenance in presymptomatic frontotemporal dementia.

Journal Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry

Cognitively engaging lifestyles have been associated with reduced risk of conversion to dementia. Multiple mechanisms have been advocated, including increased brain volumes (ie, brain reserve) and reduced disease progression (ie, brain maintenance). In cross-sectional studies of presymptomatic frontotemporal dementia (FTD), higher education has been related to increased grey matter volume. Here, we examine the effect of education on grey matter loss over time.

Two-hundred twenty-nine subjects at-risk of carrying a pathogenic mutation leading to FTD underwent longitudinal cognitive assessment and T1-weighted MRI at baseline and at 1 year follow-up. The first principal component score of the graph-Laplacian Principal Component Analysis on 112 grey matter region-of-interest volumes was used to summarise the grey matter volume (GMV). The effects of education on cognitive performances and GMV at baseline and on the change between 1 year follow-up and baseline (slope) were tested by Structural Equation Modelling.

Highly educated at-risk subjects had better cognition and higher grey matter volume at baseline; moreover, higher educational attainment was associated with slower loss of grey matter over time in mutation carriers.

This longitudinal study demonstrates that even in presence of ongoing pathological processes, education may facilitate both brain reserve and brain maintenance in the presymptomatic phase of genetic FTD.

An attempt to explain the bidirectional association between ischaemic heart disease, stroke and depression: a cohort and meta-analytic approach.

Br J Psychiatry

Depression and cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are common diseases and associated in a bidirectional manner.AimsTo examine whether a bidirectional association between CVD and depression could be explained by shared risk factors, misclassification of disease measures or non-response.

A total of 10 population-based cohorts including 93 076 men and women (mean age 54.4 years, s.d. = 9.2) and an additional 10 510 men (mean age 51.2 years, s.d. = 0.3) were followed for subsequent depression, ischaemic heart disease (IHD) and stroke in the Danish National Patient Registry from health examinations between 1982 and 2015 and until end of follow-up in 2017-2018. Exposures were physicians' diagnoses of IHD, stroke, depression or self-reported chest pain, depression, use of antidepressant medication and the Major Depression Inventory at the time of study entry in the Metropolit study. Associations were analysed using Cox proportional hazard regression with disease as time-dependent variables.

IHD and stroke were associated with subsequent depression (hazard ratio (HR) for IHD: 1.79, 95% CI 1.43-2.23 and HR for stroke: 2.62, 95% CI 2.09-3.29) and the associations were present in both men and women. Adjustment for the shared risk factors socioeconomic status, lifestyle, body mass index, statin use and serum lipids did not change the risk estimates. Furthermore, depression was associated with higher risk of subsequent IHD (HR = 1.63, 95% CI 1.36-1.95) and stroke (HR = 1.94, 95% CI 1.63-2.30). The associations were also present when the analyses were based on self-reported disease measures or restricted to include non-responders.

The bidirectional association between CVD and depression was not explained by shared risk factors, misclassification or non-response.Declaration of interestNone.

Evidence for Network-Based Cortical Thickness Reductions in Schizophrenia.

Am J Psychiatry

Cortical thickness reductions in schizophrenia are irregularly distributed across multiple loci. The authors hypothesized that cortical connectivity networks would explain the distribution of cortical thickness reductions across the cortex, and, specifically, that cortico-cortical connectivity between loci with these reductions would be exceptionally strong and form an interconnected network. This hypothesis was tested in three cross-sectional schizophrenia cohorts: first-episode psychosis, chronic schizophrenia, and treatment-resistant schizophrenia.

Structural brain images were acquired for 70 patients with first-episode psychosis, 153 patients with chronic schizophrenia, and 47 patients with treatment-resistant schizophrenia and in matching healthy control groups (N=57, N=168, and N=54, respectively). Cortical thickness was compared between the patient and respective control groups at 148 regions spanning the cortex. Structural connectivity strength between pairs of cortical regions was quantified with structural covariance analysis. Connectivity strength between regions with cortical thickness reductions was compared with connectivity strength between 5,000 sets of randomly chosen regions to establish whether regions with reductions were interconnected more strongly than would be expected by chance.

Significant (false discovery rate corrected) and widespread cortical thickness reductions were found in the chronic schizophrenia (79 regions) and treatment-resistant schizophrenia (106 regions) groups, with more circumscribed reductions in the first-episode psychosis group (34 regions). Cortical thickness reductions with the largest effect sizes were found in frontal, temporal, cingulate, and insular regions. In all cohorts, both the patient and healthy control groups showed significantly increased structural covariance between regions with cortical thickness reductions compared with randomly selected regions.

Brain network architecture can explain the irregular topographic distribution of cortical thickness reductions in schizophrenia. This finding, replicated in three distinct schizophrenia cohorts, suggests that the effect is robust and independent of illness stage.

Association of Choroid Plexus Enlargement With Cognitive, Inflammatory, and Structural Phenotypes Across the Psychosis Spectrum.

Am J Psychiatry

The choroid plexus is an important physiological barrier and produces CSF and neurotrophic, angiogenic, and inflammatory factors involved in brain development. Choroid plexus abnormalities have been implicated in both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. A previous choroid plexus transcriptomic analysis of schizophrenia identified an upregulation of immune and inflammatory genes that correlated with peripheral inflammatory markers. The purpose of this study was to examine choroid plexus volume in probands across the psychosis spectrum and in their first-degree and axis II cluster A relatives, as well as choroid plexus familiality and choroid plexus covariance with clinical, cognitive, brain, and peripheral marker measures.

Choroid plexus volume was quantified (using FreeSurfer) in psychosis probands, their first-degree and axis II cluster A relatives, and healthy control subjects, organized by DSM-IV-TR diagnosis. Analyte, structural connectivity, and genotype data were collected from a subset of study subjects.

Choroid plexus volume was significantly larger in probands compared with first-degree relatives or healthy control subjects; first-degree relatives had intermediate enlargement compared with healthy control subjects; and total choroid plexus volume was significantly heritable. Larger volume was associated with worse cognition, smaller total gray matter and amygdala volume, larger lateral ventricle volume, and lower structural connectivity in probands. Associations between larger volume and higher levels of interleukin 6 in probands was also observed.

These findings suggest the involvement of the choroid plexus across the psychosis spectrum with a potential pathophysiological mechanism involving the neuroimmune axis, which functions in maintaining brain homeostasis and interacting with the peripheral immune and inflammatory system. The choroid plexus may be an important target in future research.

GWAS of Suicide Attempt in Psychiatric Disorders and Association With Major Depression Polygenic Risk Scores.

Am J Psychiatry

More than 90% of people who attempt suicide have a psychiatric diagnosis; however, twin and family studies suggest that the genetic etiology of suicide attempt is partially distinct from that of the psychiatric disorders themselves. The authors present the largest genome-wide association study (GWAS) on suicide attempt, using cohorts of individuals with major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia from the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium.

The samples comprised 1,622 suicide attempters and 8,786 nonattempters with major depressive disorder; 3,264 attempters and 5,500 nonattempters with bipolar disorder; and 1,683 attempters and 2,946 nonattempters with schizophrenia. A GWAS on suicide attempt was performed by comparing attempters to nonattempters with each disorder, followed by a meta-analysis across disorders. Polygenic risk scoring was used to investigate the genetic relationship between suicide attempt and the psychiatric disorders.

Three genome-wide significant loci for suicide attempt were found: one associated with suicide attempt in major depressive disorder, one associated with suicide attempt in bipolar disorder, and one in the meta-analysis of suicide attempt in mood disorders. These associations were not replicated in independent mood disorder cohorts from the UK Biobank and iPSYCH. No significant associations were found in the meta-analysis of all three disorders. Polygenic risk scores for major depression were significantly associated with suicide attempt in major depressive disorder (R2=0.25%), bipolar disorder (R2=0.24%), and schizophrenia (R2=0.40%).

This study provides new information on genetic associations and demonstrates that genetic liability for major depression increases risk for suicide attempt across psychiatric disorders. Further collaborative efforts to increase sample size may help to robustly identify genetic associations and provide biological insights into the etiology of suicide attempt.

The impact of substance use on treatment as a compulsory patient.

Australasian Psychiatry

This paper considers the impact of having a diagnosis of substance use disorder on the utilisation of compulsory orders under the Victorian Mental Health Act (2014).

We analysed the subsequent treatment episodes over 2 years of people who had been on a community treatment order for at least 3 months and determined the odds of a further treatment order if there was a diagnosis of substance use at or about the time the index community treatment order ended.

An additional diagnosis of a substance use disorder was coded in 47.7% and was associated with significantly increased odds of a subsequent treatment order in the following 2 years for those with a main diagnosis of schizophrenia (AOR = 3.03, p<0.001) and 'other' disorders (AOR = 11.60, p=0.002). Those with a main diagnosis of mood disorder had a significant increase in odds for an inpatient treatment order if there was an additional substance use disorder diagnosis (AOR = 3.81, p=0.006).

Having an additional diagnosis of substance use disorder was associated with increased likelihood of being placed on an order. This study supports greater emphasis being given to treatment of substance use concurrently with that of mental illness.