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1.  Self-Rated Depression and Physician-Diagnosed Depression and Anxiety in Florida Adults: Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2006 
Preventing Chronic Disease  2008;6(1):A10.
Introduction
Our purpose was to determine the prevalence and correlates of self-reported symptoms of depression and physician-diagnosed depression and anxiety in Florida adults by using the 2006 Florida Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS).
Methods
The BRFSS is an ongoing, state-based telephone health survey of noninstitutionalized adults that uses random-digit dialing. In 2006, an Anxiety and Depression Module was administered in Florida. Eight questions were used to examine current depression. Two additional questions assessed health care provider diagnosis of depressive and anxiety disorders. We used SUDAAN version 9.0 to evaluate the data to accommodate the complex sampling design.
Results
Approximately 9% of Florida adults experienced current depression; about 13% had had a diagnosis of depression in their lifetime and 11% had a diagnosis of anxiety in their lifetime. Approximately 44% of respondents with current depression had not had a diagnosis of depression. Current depression and lifetime diagnosis of depression and anxiety were independently associated with sociodemographic variables (being a woman, young, previously married or never married, or unemployed or unable to work), adverse health behaviors (current or former smoking, physical inactivity, or obesity), and chronic health conditions (history of a stroke, diabetes, or asthma). Although the prevalence of depression among non-Hispanic blacks and people with low education levels is higher, members of these groups are less likely than members of other sociodemographic groups to have had depression diagnosed by a physician.
Conclusion
Depression and anxiety are associated with sociodemographic disadvantages and chronic conditions and risk factors. Knowing the prevalence of depression and anxiety, both self-rated and physician-diagnosed, is useful in identifying unmet mental health needs among subpopulations.
PMCID: PMC2644595  PMID: 19080016
2.  Intimate Partner Violence and Incident Depressive Symptoms and Suicide Attempts: A Systematic Review of Longitudinal Studies 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(5):e1001439.
Karen Devries and colleagues conduct a systematic review of longitudinal studies to evaluate the direction of association between symptoms of depression and intimate partner violence.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Depression and suicide are responsible for a substantial burden of disease globally. Evidence suggests that intimate partner violence (IPV) experience is associated with increased risk of depression, but also that people with mental disorders are at increased risk of violence. We aimed to investigate the extent to which IPV experience is associated with incident depression and suicide attempts, and vice versa, in both women and men.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal studies published before February 1, 2013. More than 22,000 records from 20 databases were searched for studies examining physical and/or sexual intimate partner or dating violence and symptoms of depression, diagnosed major depressive disorder, dysthymia, mild depression, or suicide attempts. Random effects meta-analyses were used to generate pooled odds ratios (ORs). Sixteen studies with 36,163 participants met our inclusion criteria. All studies included female participants; four studies also included male participants. Few controlled for key potential confounders other than demographics. All but one depression study measured only depressive symptoms. For women, there was clear evidence of an association between IPV and incident depressive symptoms, with 12 of 13 studies showing a positive direction of association and 11 reaching statistical significance; pooled OR from six studies = 1.97 (95% CI 1.56–2.48, I2 = 50.4%, pheterogeneity = 0.073). There was also evidence of an association in the reverse direction between depressive symptoms and incident IPV (pooled OR from four studies = 1.93, 95% CI 1.51–2.48, I2 = 0%, p = 0.481). IPV was also associated with incident suicide attempts. For men, evidence suggested that IPV was associated with incident depressive symptoms, but there was no clear evidence of an association between IPV and suicide attempts or depression and incident IPV.
Conclusions
In women, IPV was associated with incident depressive symptoms, and depressive symptoms with incident IPV. IPV was associated with incident suicide attempts. In men, few studies were conducted, but evidence suggested IPV was associated with incident depressive symptoms. There was no clear evidence of association with suicide attempts.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Depression and suicide are responsible for a substantial proportion of the global disease burden. Depression—an overwhelming feeling of sadness and hopelessness that can last for months or years—affects more than 350 million people worldwide. It is the eleventh leading cause of global disability-adjusted life-years (a measure of overall disease burden), and it affects one in six people at some time during their lives. Globally, about a million people commit suicide every year, usually because they have depression or some other mental illness. Notably, in cross-sectional studies (investigations that look at a population at a single time point), experience of intimate partner violence (IPV, also called domestic violence) is strongly and consistently associated with both depressive disorders and suicide. IPV, like depression and suicide, is extremely common—in multi-country studies, 15%–71% of women report being physically assaulted at some time during their lifetime. IPV is defined as physical, sexual, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse; men as well as women can be the victims of IPV.
Why Was This Study Done?
It may seem obvious to assume that IPV is causally related to subsequent depression and suicidal behavior. However, cross-sectional studies provide no information about causality, and it is possible that depression and/or suicide attempts cause subsequent IPV or that there are common risk factors for IPV, depression, and suicide. For example, individuals with depressive symptoms may be more accepting of partners with characteristics that predispose them to use violence, or early life exposure to violence may predispose individuals to both depression and choosing violent partners. Here, as part of the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010, the researchers investigate the extent to which experience of IPV is associated with subsequent depression and suicide attempts and vice versa in both men and women by undertaking a systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal studies that have examined IPV, depression, and suicide attempts. A systematic review uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic, meta-analysis combines the results of several studies, and longitudinal studies track people over time to investigate associations between specific characteristics and outcomes.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 16 longitudinal studies involving a total of 36,163 participants that met their inclusion criteria. All the studies included women, but only four also included men. All the studies were undertaken in high- and middle-income countries. For women, 11 studies showed a statistically significant association (an association unlikely to have occurred by chance) between IPV and subsequent depressive symptoms. In a meta-analysis of six studies, experience of IPV nearly doubled the risk of women subsequently reporting depressive symptoms. In addition, there was evidence of an association in the reverse direction. In a meta-analysis of four studies, depressive symptoms nearly doubled the risk of women subsequently experiencing IPV. IPV was also associated with subsequent suicide attempts among women. For men, there was some evidence from two studies that IPV was associated with depressive symptoms but no evidence for an association between IPV and subsequent suicide attempt or between depressive symptoms and subsequent IPV.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that women who are exposed to IPV are at increased risk of subsequent depression and that women who are depressed are more likely to be at risk of IPV. They also provide evidence of an association between IPV and subsequent suicide attempt for women. The study provides little evidence for similar relationships among men, but additional studies are needed to confirm this finding. Moreover, the accuracy of these findings is likely to be affected by several limitations of the study. For example, few of the included studies controlled for other factors that might have affected both exposure to IPV and depressive symptoms, and none of the studies considered the effect of emotional violence on depressive symptoms and suicide attempts. Nevertheless, these findings have two important implications. First, they suggest that preventing violence against women has the potential to reduce the global burden of disease related to depression and suicide. Second, they suggest that clinicians should pay attention to past experiences of violence and the risk of future violence when treating women who present with symptoms of depression.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001439.
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Alexander Tsai
The US National Institute of Mental Health provides information on all aspects of depression and of suicide and suicide prevention (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides detailed information about depression, including personal stories about depression, and information on suicide and its prevention; it has a webpage about domestic violence, which includes descriptions of personal experiences
The World Health Organization provides information on depression, on the global burden of suicide and on suicide prevention, and on intimate partner violence (some information in several languages)
MedlinePlus provides links to other resources about depression, suicide, and domestic violence (in English and Spanish)
The charity Healthtalkonline has personal stories about depression and about dealing with suicide
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001439
PMCID: PMC3646718  PMID: 23671407
3.  Depressive Symptoms in Younger Women and Men With Acute Myocardial Infarction: Insights From the VIRGO Study 
Background
Depression was recently recognized as a risk factor for adverse medical outcomes in patients with acute myocardial infarction (AMI). The degree to which depression is present among younger patients with an AMI, the patient profile associated with being a young AMI patient with depressive symptoms, and whether relevant sex differences exist are currently unknown.
Methods and Results
The Variation in Recovery: Role of Gender on Outcomes of Young AMI Patients (VIRGO) study enrolled 3572 patients with AMI (67.1% women; 2:1 ratio for women to men) between 2008 and 2012 (at 103 hospitals in the United States, 24 in Spain, and 3 in Australia). Information about lifetime history of depression and depressive symptoms experienced over the past 2 weeks (Patient Health Questionnaire; a cutoff score ≥10 was used for depression screening) was collected during index AMI admission. Information on demographics, socioeconomic status, cardiovascular risk, AMI severity, perceived stress (14‐item Perceived Stress Scale), and health status (Seattle Angina Questionnaire, EuroQoL 5D) was obtained through interviews and chart abstraction. Nearly half (48%) of the women reported a lifetime history of depression versus 1 in 4 in men (24%; P<0.0001). At the time of admission for AMI, more women than men experienced depressive symptoms (39% versus 22%, P<0.0001; adjusted odds ratio 1.64; 95% CI 1.36 to 1.98). Patients with more depressive symptoms had higher levels of stress and worse quality of life (P<0.001). Depressive symptoms were more prevalent among patients with lower socioeconomic profiles (eg, lower education, uninsured) and with more cardiovascular risk factors (eg, diabetes, smoking).
Conclusions
A high rate of lifetime history of depression and depressive symptoms at the time of an AMI was observed among younger women compared with men. Depressive symptoms affected those with more vulnerable socioeconomic and clinical profiles.
doi:10.1161/JAHA.114.001424
PMCID: PMC4579927  PMID: 25836055
acute myocardial infarction; depression; sex differences
4.  Military-related sexual assault in Canada: a cross-sectional survey 
CMAJ Open  2017;5(2):E496-E507.
Background:
Most research on military-related sexual assault is based on the United States military and has important limitations, such as low response rates. We sought to estimate the lifetime prevalence of sexual assault, assess its relation to military service and identify the circumstances, correlates and associations with mental disorders of military-related sexual assault among Canadian military personnel.
Methods:
We used the 2013 Canadian Forces Mental Health Survey, a cross-sectional representative survey of Canadian Regular Force personnel (n = 6696). The sample was weighted to be representative of the entire Canadian Armed Forces Regular Force population in 2012 (n = 67 776), as per Statistics Canada requirements. We assessed lifetime trauma exposure and past-year mental disorders using the Composite International Diagnostic Interview. We defined lifetime military-related sexual assault as forced sexual activity or unwanted sexual touching that occurred on deployment or in another military workplace, or was perpetrated by Department of National Defence or Canadian Armed Forces personnel. We defined all other sexual assault as non-military-related sexual assault.
Results:
Self-reported sexual assault was more prevalent among women (non-military-related sexual assault 24.2%, military-related sexual assault 15.5%) than men (5.9% and 0.8%, respectively). About a quarter of women with military-related sexual assault reported experiencing at least 1 event on deployment. After covariates were controlled for, military-related sexual assault was independently associated with any lifetime and any past-year mental disorder (adjusted odds ratio 2.9 and 3.0, respectively) and lifetime and past-year posttraumatic stress disorder (adjusted odds ratio 4.3 and 4.1, respectively).
Interpretation:
Canadian military women are at increased risk for sexual assault and military-related sexual assault relative to their male counterparts. Deployment may be a period of elevated risk for military-related sexual assault, and women who reported military-related sexual assault are more likely to have experienced mental disorders, especially posttraumatic stress disorder.
doi:10.9778/cmajo.20160140
PMCID: PMC5498324  PMID: 28642253
5.  Public Health and International Drug Policy 
Lancet (London, England)  2016;387(10026):1427-1480.
Executive summary
In September 2015, the member states of the United Nations endorsed sustainable development goals (SDG) for 2030 that aspire to human rights-centered approaches to ensuring the health and well-being of all people. The SDGs embody both the UN Charter values of rights and justice for all and the responsibility of states to rely on the best scientific evidence as they seek to better humankind. In April 2016, these same states will consider control of illicit drugs, an area of social policy that has been fraught with controversy, seen as inconsistent with human rights norms, and for which scientific evidence and public health approaches have arguably played too limited a role.
The previous UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs in 1998 – convened under the theme “a drug-free world, we can do it!” – endorsed drug control policies based on the goal of prohibiting all use, possession, production, and trafficking of illicit drugs. This goal is enshrined in national law in many countries. In pronouncing drugs a “grave threat to the health and well-being of all mankind,” the 1998 UNGASS echoed the foundational 1961 convention of the international drug control regime, which justified eliminating the “evil” of drugs in the name of “the health and welfare of mankind.” But neither of these international agreements refers to the ways in which pursuing drug prohibition itself might affect public health. The “war on drugs” and “zero-tolerance” policies that grew out of the prohibitionist consensus are now being challenged on multiple fronts, including their health, human rights, and development impact.
The Johns Hopkins – Lancet Commission on Drug Policy and Health has sought to examine the emerging scientific evidence on public health issues arising from drug control policy and to inform and encourage a central focus on public health evidence and outcomes in drug policy debates, such as the important deliberations of the 2016 UNGASS on drugs.
The Johns Hopkins-Lancet Commission is concerned that drug policies are often colored by ideas about drug use and drug dependence that are not scientifically grounded. The 1998 UNGASS declaration, for example, like the UN drug conventions and many national drug laws, does not distinguish between drug use and drug abuse. A 2015 report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, by contrast, found it important to emphasize that “[d]rug use is neither a medical condition nor does it necessarily lead to drug dependence.” The idea that all drug use is dangerous and evil has led to enforcement-heavy policies and has made it difficult to see potentially dangerous drugs in the same light as potentially dangerous foods, tobacco, alcohol for which the goal of social policy is to reduce potential harms.
Health impact of drug policy based on enforcement of prohibition
The pursuit of drug prohibition has generated a parallel economy run by criminal networks. Both these networks, which resort to violence to protect their markets, and the police and sometimes military or paramilitary forces that pursue them contribute to violence and insecurity in communities affected by drug transit and sales. In Mexico, the dramatic increase in homicides since the government decided to use military forces against drug traffickers in 2006 has been so great that it reduced life expectancy in the country.
Injection of drugs with contaminated equipment is a well-known route of HIV exposure and viral hepatitis transmission. People who inject drugs (PWID) are also at high risk of tuberculosis. The continued spread of unsafe injection-linked HIV contrasts the progress that has been seen in reducing sexual and vertical transmission of HIV in the last three decades. The Commission found that that repressive drug policing greatly contributes to the risk of HIV linked to injection. Policing may be a direct barrier to services such as needle and syringe programmes (NSP) and use of non-injected opioids to treat dependence among those who inject opioids, known as opioid substitution therapy (OST). Police seeking to boost arrest totals have been found to target facilities that provide these services to find, harass, and detain large numbers of people who use drugs. Drug paraphernalia laws that prohibit possession of injecting equipment lead PWID to fear carrying syringes and force them to share equipment or dispose of it unsafely. Policing practices undertaken in the name of the public good have demonstrably worsened public health outcomes.
Amongst the most significant impacts of pursuit of drug prohibition identified by the Commission with respect to infectious disease is the excessive use of incarceration as a drug-control measure. Many national laws impose lengthy custodial sentences for minor, non-violent drug offenses; people who use drugs (PWUD) are over-represented in prison and pretrial detention. Drug use and drug injection occur in prisons, though their occurrence is often denied by officials. HIV and hepatitis C virus (HCV) transmission occurs among prisoners and detainees, often complicated by co-infection with TB and in many places multidrug-resistant TB, and too few states offer prevention or treatment services in spite of international guidelines that urge comprehensive measures, including provision of injection equipment, for people in state custody.
Mathematical modelling undertaken by the Commission illustrates that incarceration and high HCV risk in the post-incarceration period can contribute importantly to national HCV incidence amongst PWID in a range of countries with varying levels of incarceration, different average prison sentences, durations of injection, and OST coverage levels in prison and following release. For example, in Thailand where PWID may spend nearly half their injection careers in prison, an estimated 63% of incident HCV infection could occur in prison. In Scotland, where prison sentences are shorter for PWUD and OST coverage is relatively high in prison, an estimated 54% of incident HCV infection occurs in prison, but as much as 21% may occur in the high-risk post-release period. These results underscore the importance of alternatives to prison for minor drug offences, ensuring access to OST in prison, and a seamless link from prison services to OST in the community.
The evidence also clearly demonstrates that drug law enforcement has been applied in a discriminatory way against racial and ethnic minorities in a number of countries. The US is perhaps the best documented but not the only case of racial biases in policing, arrest, and sentencing. In 2014, African American men were more than five times more likely than whites to be incarcerated in their lifetime, though there is no significant difference in rates of drug use among these populations. The impact of this bias on communities of people of color is inter-generational and socially and economically devastating.
The Commission also found significant gender biases in current drug policies. Of women in prison and pretrial detention around the world, a higher percentage are detained because of drug infractions than is the case for men. Women involved in drug markets are often on the bottom rungs – as couriers or drivers – and may not have information about major traffickers to trade as leverage with prosecutors. Gender and racial biases have marked overlap, making this an intersectional threat to women of color, their children, families, and communities.
In both prison and the community, HIV, HCV and TB programmes for PWUD – including testing, prevention and treatment – are gravely underfunded at the cost of preventable death and disease. In a number of middle-income countries where large numbers of PWUD live, HIV and TB programmes for PWUD that were expanded with support from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria have lost funding due to changes in the Fund’s eligibility criteria. There is an unfortunate failure to emulate the example of Western European countries that have eliminated unsafe injection-linked HIV as a public health problem by sustainably scaling up prevention and care and enabling minor offenders to avert prison. Political resistance to harm reduction measures dismisses strong evidence of their effectiveness and cost-effectiveness. Mathematical modeling shows that if OST, NSP and antiretroviral therapy for HIV are all available, even if the coverage of each of them is not over 50%, their synergy can lead to effective prevention in a foreseeable future. PWUD are often not seen to be worthy of costly treatments, or they are thought not to be able to adhere to treatment regimens in spite of evidence to the contrary.
Lethal drug overdose is an important public health problem, particularly in light of rising consumption of heroin and prescription opioids in some parts of the world. Yet the Commission found that the pursuit of drug prohibition can contribute to overdose risks in numerous ways. It creates unregulated illegal markets in which it is impossible to control adulterants of street drugs that add to overdose risk. Several studies also link aggressive policing to rushed injection and overdose risk. People with a history of drug use, over-represented in prison because of prohibitionist policies, are at extremely high risk of overdose when released from state custody. Lack of ready access to OST also contributes to injection of opioids, and bans on supervised injection sites cut off an intervention that has proven very effective in reducing overdose deaths. Restrictive drug policies also contribute to unnecessary controls on naloxone, a medicine that can reverse overdose very effectively.
Though a small percentage of PWUD will ever need treatment for drug dependence, that minority faces enormous barriers to humane and affordable treatment in many countries. There are often no national standards for quality of drug dependence treatment and no regular monitoring of practices. In too many countries, beatings, forced labor, and denial of health care and adequate sanitation are offered in the name of treatment, including in compulsory detention centres that are more like prisons than treatment facilities. Where there are humane treatment options, it is often the case that those most in need of it cannot afford it. In many countries, there is no treatment designed particularly for women, though it is known that women’s motivations for and physiological reactions to drug use differ from those of men.
The pursuit of the elimination of drugs has led to aggressive and harmful practices targeting people who grow crops used in the manufacture of drugs, especially coca leaf, opium poppy, and cannabis. Aerial spraying of coca fields in the Andes with the defoliant glyphosate (N-(phosphonomethyl glycine) has been associated with respiratory and dermatological disorders and with miscarriages. Forced displacement of poor rural families who have no secure land tenure exacerbates their poverty and food insecurity and in some cases forces them to move their cultivation to more marginal land. Geographic isolation makes it difficult for state authorities to reach drug crop cultivators in public health and education campaigns and it cuts cultivators off from basic health services. Alternative development programmes meant to offer other livelihood opportunities have poor records and have rarely been conceived, implemented, or evaluated with respect to their impact on people’s health.
Research on drugs and drug policy has suffered from the lack of a diversified funding base and assumptions about drug use and drug pathologies on the part of the dominant funder, the US government. At a time when drug policy discussions are opening up around the world, there is an urgent to bring the best of non-ideologically-driven health science, social science and policy analysis to the study of drugs and the potential for policy reform.
Policy alternatives in real life
Concrete experiences from many countries that have modified or rejected prohibitionist approaches in their response to drugs can inform discussions of drug policy reform. A number of countries, such as Portugal and the Czech Republic, decriminalised minor drug offenses years ago, with significant savings of money, less incarceration, significant public health benefits, and no significant increase in drug use. Decriminalisation of minor offenses along with scaling up low-threshold HIV prevention services enabled Portugal to control an explosive unsafe injection-linked HIV epidemic and likely enabled the Czech Republic to prevent one from happening.
Where formal decriminalisation may not be an immediate possibility, scaling up health services for PWUD can demonstrate the value to society of responding with support rather than punishment to people who commit minor drug infractions. A pioneering OST program in Tanzania is encouraging communities and officials to consider non-criminal responses to heroin injection. In Switzerland and the city of Vancouver, Canada, dramatic improvements in access to comprehensive harm reduction services, including supervised injection sites and heroin-assisted treatment, transformed the health picture for PWUD. Vancouver’s experience also illustrates the importance of meaningful participation of PWUD in decision-making on policies and programmes affecting their communities.
Conclusions and recommendations
Policies meant to prohibit or greatly suppress drugs present a paradox. They are portrayed and defended vigorously by many policy-makers as necessary to preserve public health and safety, and yet the evidence suggests they have contributed directly and indirectly to lethal violence, communicable disease transmission, discrimination, forced displacement, unnecessary physical pain, and the undermining of people’s right to health.
Some would argue that the threat of drugs to society may justify some level of abrogation of human rights for protection of collective security, as is also foreseen by human rights law in case of emergencies. International human rights standards dictate that in such cases, societies still must choose the least harmful way to address the emergency and that emergency measures must be proportionate and designed specifically to meet transparently defined and realistic goals. The pursuit of drug prohibition meets none of these criteria.
Standard public health and scientific approaches that should be part of policy-making on drugs have been rejected in the pursuit of prohibition. The idea of reducing the harm of many kinds of human behavior is central to public policy in the areas of traffic safety, tobacco and alcohol regulation, food safety, safety in sports and recreation, and many other areas of human life where the behavior in question is not prohibited. But explicitly seeking to reduce drug-related harms through policy and programmes and to balance prohibition with harm reduction is regularly resisted in drug control. The persistence of unsafe injection-linked HIV and HCV transmission that could be stopped with proven, cost-effective measures remains one of the great failures of the global responses to these diseases.
Drug policy that is dismissive of extensive evidence of its own negative impact and of approaches that could improve health outcomes is bad for all concerned. Countries have failed to recognise and correct the health and human rights harms that pursuit of prohibition and drug suppression have caused and in so doing neglect their legal responsibilities. They readily incarcerate people for minor offenses but then neglect their duty to provide health services in custodial settings. They recognize uncontrolled illegal markets as the consequence of their policies, but they do little to protect people from toxic, adulterated drugs that are inevitable in illegal markets or the violence of organized criminals, often made worse by policing. They waste public resources on policies that do not demonstrably impede the functioning of drug markets, and they miss opportunities to invest public resources wisely in proven health services for people often too frightened to seek services.
To move toward the balanced policy that UN member states have called for, we offer the following recommendations: Decriminalisation: Decriminalise minor, non-violent drug offenses – use, possession, and petty sale – and strengthen health and social-sector alternatives to criminal sanctions.Reducing violence and discrimination in policing: Reduce the violence and other harms of drug policing, including phasing out the use of military forces in drug policing, better targeting of policing on the most violent armed criminals, allowing possession of syringes, not targeting harm reduction services to boost arrest totals, and eliminating racial and ethnic discrimination in policing.Reducing harms: Ensure easy access for all who need them to harm reduction services as a part of responding to drugs, recognizing the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of scaling up and sustaining these services. OST, NSP, supervised injection sites, and access to naloxone – brought to a scale adequate to meet demand – should all figure in health services and should include meaningful participation of PWUD in planning and implementation. Harm reduction services are crucial in prison and pretrial detention and should be scaled up in these settings. The 2016 UNGASS should do better than the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) in naming harm reduction explicitly and endorsing its centrality to drug policy.Treatment and care for PWUD: Prioritize PWUD in treatment for HIV, HCV, TB, and ensure that services are adequate to ensure access for all who need care. Ensure availability of humane and scientifically sound treatment for drug dependence, including scaled-up OST in the community as well as in prisons, rejecting compulsory detention and abuse in the name of treatment.Access to controlled medicines: Ensure access to controlled medicines, establishing inter-sectoral national authorities to determine levels of need and giving the World Health Organization (WHO) the resources to assist the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) in using the best science to determine the level of need for controlled medicines in all countries.Gender-responsive policies: Reduce the negative impact of drug policy and law on women and their families, especially minimizing custodial sentences for women who commit non-violent offenses and developing appropriate health and social support, including gender-appropriate treatment of drug dependence, for those who need it.Crop production: Efforts to address drug crop production must take health into account. Aerial spraying of toxic herbicides should be stopped, and alternative development programmes should be part of integrated development strategies, developed and implemented in meaningful consultation with the people affected.Improve research: There is a need for a more diverse donor base to fund the best new science on drug policy experiences in a non-ideological way that, among other things, interrogates and moves beyond the excessive pathologising of drug use.UN governance of drug control: UN governance of drug policy must be improved, including by respecting WHO’s authority to determine the dangerousness of drugs. Countries should be urged to include high-level health officials in their delegations to CND. Improved representation of health officials in national delegations to CND would, in turn, be a likely result of giving health authorities an important day-to-day role in multi-sectoral national drug policy-making bodies.Better metrics: Health, development, and human rights indicators should be included in metrics to judge success of drug policy; WHO and UNDP should help formulate them. UNDP has already suggested that indicators such as access to treatment, rate of overdose deaths, and access to social welfare programmes for people who use drugs would be useful indicators. All drug policies should also be monitored and evaluated as to their impact on racial and ethnic minorities, women, children and young people, and people living in poverty.Scientific approach to regulated markets: Move gradually toward regulated drug markets and apply the scientific method to their evaluation. While regulated legal drug markets are not politically possible in the short term in some places, the harms of criminal markets and other consequences of prohibition catalogued in this report are likely to lead more countries (and more US states) to move gradually in that direction, a direction we endorse. As those decisions are taken, we urge governments and researchers to apply the scientific method and ensure independent, multidisciplinary and rigorous evaluation of regulated markets to draw lessons and inform improvements in regulatory practices, and to continue evaluating and improving.
We urge health professionals in all countries to inform themselves and join debates on drug policy at all levels. True to the stated goals of the international drug control regime, it is possible to have drug policy that contributes to the health and well-being of humankind, but not without bringing to bear the evidence of the health sciences and the voices of health professionals.
doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(16)00619-X
PMCID: PMC5042332  PMID: 27021149
drug policy; prohibition; harm reduction; violence; crop eradication; HIV; viral hepatitis; mass incarceration; decriminalization; reform; public health
6.  Neuroimaging for the Evaluation of Chronic Headaches 
Executive Summary
Objective
The objectives of this evidence based review are:
i) To determine the effectiveness of computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans in the evaluation of persons with a chronic headache and a normal neurological examination.
ii) To determine the comparative effectiveness of CT and MRI scans for detecting significant intracranial abnormalities in persons with chronic headache and a normal neurological exam.
iii) To determine the budget impact of CT and MRI scans for persons with a chronic headache and a normal neurological exam.
Clinical Need: Condition and Target Population
Headaches disorders are generally classified as either primary or secondary with further sub-classifications into specific headache types. Primary headaches are those not caused by a disease or medical condition and include i) tension-type headache, ii) migraine, iii) cluster headache and, iv) other primary headaches, such as hemicrania continua and new daily persistent headache. Secondary headaches include those headaches caused by an underlying medical condition. While primary headaches disorders are far more frequent than secondary headache disorders, there is an urge to carry out neuroimaging studies (CT and/or MRI scans) out of fear of missing uncommon secondary causes and often to relieve patient anxiety.
Tension type headaches are the most common primary headache disorder and migraines are the most common severe primary headache disorder. Cluster headaches are a type of trigeminal autonomic cephalalgia and are less common than migraines and tension type headaches. Chronic headaches are defined as headaches present for at least 3 months and lasting greater than or equal to 15 days per month. The International Classification of Headache Disorders states that for most secondary headaches the characteristics of the headache are poorly described in the literature and for those headache disorders where it is well described there are few diagnostically important features.
The global prevalence of headache in general in the adult population is estimated at 46%, for tension-type headache it is 42% and 11% for migraine headache. The estimated prevalence of cluster headaches is 0.1% or 1 in 1000 persons. The prevalence of chronic daily headache is estimated at 3%.
Neuroimaging
Computed Tomography
Computed tomography (CT) is a medical imaging technique used to aid diagnosis and to guide interventional and therapeutic procedures. It allows rapid acquisition of high-resolution three-dimensional images, providing radiologists and other physicians with cross-sectional views of a person’s anatomy. CT scanning poses risk of radiation exposure. The radiation exposure from a conventional CT scanner may emit effective doses of 2-4mSv for a typical head CT.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a medical imaging technique used to aid diagnosis but unlike CT it does not use ionizing radiation. Instead, it uses a strong magnetic field to image a person’s anatomy. Compared to CT, MRI can provide increased contrast between the soft tissues of the body. Because of the persistent magnetic field, extra care is required in the magnetic resonance environment to ensure that injury or harm does not come to any personnel while in the environment.
Research Questions
What is the effectiveness of CT and MRI scanning in the evaluation of persons with a chronic headache and a normal neurological examination?
What is the comparative effectiveness of CT and MRI scanning for detecting significant intracranial abnormality in persons with chronic headache and a normal neurological exam?
What is the budget impact of CT and MRI scans for persons with a chronic headache and a normal neurological exam.
Research Methods
Literature Search
Search Strategy
A literature search was performed on February 18, 2010 using OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE, the Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), the Cochrane Library, and the International Agency for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) for studies published from January, 2005 to February, 2010. Abstracts were reviewed by a single reviewer and, for those studies meeting the eligibility criteria full-text articles were obtained. Reference lists were also examined for any additional relevant studies not identified through the search. Articles with an unknown eligibility were reviewed with a second clinical epidemiologist and then a group of epidemiologists until consensus was established.
Inclusion Criteria
Systematic reviews, randomized controlled trials, observational studies
Outpatient adult population with chronic headache and normal neurological exam
Studies reporting likelihood ratio of clinical variables for a significant intracranial abnormality
English language studies
2005-present
Exclusion Criteria
Studies which report outcomes for persons with seizures, focal symptoms, recent/new onset headache, change in presentation, thunderclap headache, and headache due to trauma
Persons with abnormal neurological examination
Case reports
Outcomes of Interest
Primary Outcome
Probability for intracranial abnormality
Secondary Outcome
Patient relief from anxiety
System service use
System costs
Detection rates for significant abnormalities in MRI and CT scans
Summary of Findings
Effectiveness
One systematic review, 1 small RCT, and 1 observational study met the inclusion and exclusion criteria. The systematic review completed by Detsky, et al. reported the likelihood ratios of specific clinical variables to predict significant intracranial abnormalities. The RCT completed by Howard et al., evaluated whether neuroimaging persons with chronic headache increased or reduced patient anxiety. The prospective observational study by Sempere et al., provided evidence for the pre-test probability of intracranial abnormalities in persons with chronic headache as well as minimal data on the comparative effectiveness of CT and MRI to detect intracranial abnormalities.
Outcome 1: Pre-test Probability.
The pre-test probability is usually related to the prevalence of the disease and can be adjusted depending on the characteristics of the population. The study by Sempere et al. determined the pre-test probability (prevalence) of significant intracranial abnormalities in persons with chronic headaches defined as headache experienced for at least a 4 week duration with a normal neurological exam. There is a pre-test probability of 0.9% (95% CI 0.5, 1.4) in persons with chronic headache and normal neurological exam. The highest pre-test probability of 5 found in persons with cluster headaches. The second highest, that of 3.7, was reported in persons with indeterminate type headache. There was a 0.75% rate of incidental findings.
Likelihood ratios for detecting a significant abnormality
Clinical findings from the history and physical may be used as screening test to predict abnormalities on neuroimaging. The extent to which the clinical variable may be a good predictive variable can be captured by reporting its likelihood ratio. The likelihood ratio provides an estimate of how much a test result will change the odds of having a disease or condition. The positive likelihood ratio (LR+) tells you how much the odds of having the disease increases when a test is positive. The negative likelihood ratio (LR-) tells you how much the odds of having the disease decreases when the test is negative.
Detsky et al., determined the likelihood ratio for specific clinical variable from 11 studies. There were 4 clinical variables with both statistically significant positive and negative likelihood ratios. These included: abnormal neurological exam (LR+ 5.3, LR- 0.72), undefined headache (LR+ 3.8, LR- 0.66), headache aggravated by exertion or valsalva (LR+ 2.3, LR- 0.70), and headache with vomiting (LR+ 1.8, and LR- 0.47). There were two clinical variables with a statistically significant positive likelihood ratio and non significant negative likelihood ratio. These included: cluster-type headache (LR+ 11, LR- 0.95), and headache with aura (LR+ 12.9, LR- 0.52). Finally, there were 8 clinical variables with both statistically non significant positive and negative likelihood ratios. These included: headache with focal symptoms, new onset headache, quick onset headache, worsening headache, male gender, headache with nausea, increased headache severity, and migraine type headache.
Outcome 2: Relief from Anxiety
Howard et al. completed an RCT of 150 persons to determine if neuroimaging for headaches was anxiolytic or anxiogenic. Persons were randomized to receiving either an MRI scan or no scan for investigation of their headache. The study population was stratified into those persons with a Hospital Anxiety and Depression scale (HADS) > 11 (the high anxiety and depression group) and those < 11 (the low anxiety and depression) so that there were 4 groups:
Group 1: High anxiety and depression, no scan group
Group 2: High anxiety and depression, scan group
Group 3: Low anxiety and depression, no scan group
Group 4: Low anxiety and depression, scan group
Anxiety
There was no evidence for any overall reduction in anxiety at 1 year as measured by a visual analogue scale of ‘level of worry’ when analysed by whether the person received a scan or not. Similarly, there was no interaction between anxiety and depression status and whether a scan was offered or not on patient anxiety. Anxiety did not decrease at 1 year to any statistically significant degree in the high anxiety and depression group (HADS positive) compared with the low anxiety and depression group (HADS negative).
There are serious methodological limitations in this study design which may have contributed to these negative results. First, when considering the comparison of ‘scan’ vs. ‘no scan’ groups, 12 people (16%) in the ‘no scan group’ actually received a scan within the follow up year. If indeed scanning does reduce anxiety then this contamination of the ‘no scan’ group may have reduced the effect between the groups results resulting in a non significant difference in anxiety scores between the ‘scanned’ and the ‘no scan’ group. Second, there was an inadequate sample size at 1 year follow up in each of the 4 groups which may have contributed to a Type II statistical error (missing a difference when one may exist) when comparing scan vs. no scan by anxiety and depression status. Therefore, based on the results and study limitations it is inconclusive as to whether scanning reduces anxiety.
Outcome 3: System Services
Howard et al., considered services used and system costs a secondary outcome. These were determined by examining primary care case notes at 1 year for consultation rates, symptoms, further investigations, and contact with secondary and tertiary care.
System Services
The authors report that the use of neurologist and psychiatrist services was significantly higher for those persons not offered as scan, regardless of their anxiety and depression status (P<0.001 for neurologist, and P=0.033 for psychiatrist)
Outcome 4: System Costs
System Costs
There was evidence of statistically significantly lower system costs if persons with high levels of anxiety and depression (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale score >11) were provided with a scan (P=0.03 including inpatient costs, and 0.047 excluding inpatient costs).
Comparative Effectiveness of CT and MRI Scans
One study reported the detection rate for significant intracranial abnormalities using CT and MRI. In a cohort of 1876 persons with a non acute headache defined as any type of headache that had begun at least 4 weeks before enrolment Sempere et al. reported that the detection rate was 19/1432 (1.3%) using CT and 4/444 (0.9%) using MRI. Of 119 normal CT scans 2 (1.7%) had significant intracranial abnormality on MRI. The 2 cases were a small meningioma, and an acoustic neurinoma.
Summary
The evidence presented can be summarized as follows:
Pre-test Probability
Based on the results by Sempere et al., there is a low pre-test probability for intracranial abnormalities in persons with chronic headaches and a normal neurological exam (defined as headaches experiences for a minimum of 4 weeks). The Grade quality of evidence supporting this outcome is very low.
Likelihood Ratios
Based on the systematic review by Detsky et al., there is a statistically significant positive and negative likelihood ratio for the following clinical variables: abnormal neurological exam, undefined headache, headache aggravated by exertion or valsalva, headache with vomiting. Grade quality of evidence supporting this outcome is very low.
Based on the systematic review by Detsky et al. there is a statistically significant positive likelihood ratio but non statistically significant negative likelihood ratio for the following clinical variables: cluster headache and headache with aura. The Grade quality of evidence supporting this outcome is very low.
Based on the systematic review by Detsky et al., there is a non significant positive and negative likelihood ratio for the following clinical variables: headache with focal symptoms, new onset headache, quick onset headache, worsening headache, male gender, headache with nausea, increased headache severity, migraine type headache. The Grade quality of evidence supporting this outcome is very low.
Relief from Anxiety
Based on the RCT by Howard et al., it is inconclusive whether neuroimaging scans in persons with a chronic headache are anxiolytic. The Grade quality of evidence supporting this outcome is low.
System Services
Based on the RCT by Howard et al. scanning persons with chronic headache regardless of their anxiety and/or depression level reduces service use. The Grade quality of evidence is low.
System Costs
Based on the RCT by Howard et al., scanning persons with a score greater than 11 on the High Anxiety and Depression Scale reduces system costs. The Grade quality of evidence is moderate.
Comparative Effectiveness of CT and MRI Scans
There is sparse evidence to determine the relative effectiveness of CT compared with MRI scanning for the detection of intracranial abnormalities. The Grade quality of evidence supporting this is very low.
Economic Analysis
Ontario Perspective
Volumes for neuroimaging of the head i.e. CT and MRI scans, from the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) data set were used to investigate trends in the province for Fiscal Years (FY) 2004-2009.
Assumptions were made in order to investigate neuroimaging of the head for the indication of headache. From the literature, 27% of all CT and 13% of all MRI scans for the head were assumed to include an indication of headache. From that same retrospective chart review and personal communication with the author 16% of CT scans and 4% of MRI scans for the head were for the sole indication of headache. From the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) wait times data, 73% of all CT and 93% of all MRI scans in the province, irrespective of indication were outpatient procedures.
The expenditure for each FY reflects the volume for that year and since volumes have increased in the past 6 FYs, the expenditure has also increased with a pay-out reaching 3.0M and 2.8M for CT and MRI services of the head respectively for the indication of headache and a pay-out reaching 1.8M and 0.9M for CT and MRI services of the head respectively for the indication of headache only in FY 08/09.
Cost per Abnormal Finding
The yield of abnormal finding for a CT and MRI scan of the head for the indication of headache only is 2% and 5% respectively. Based on these yield a high-level estimate of the cost per abnormal finding with neuroimaging of the head for headache only can be calculated for each FY. In FY 08/09 there were 37,434 CT and 16,197 MRI scans of the head for headache only. These volumes would generate a yield of abnormal finding of 749 and 910 with a CT scan and MRI scan respectively. The expenditure for FY 08/09 was 1.8M and 0.9M for CT and MRI services respectively. Therefore the cost per abnormal finding would be $2,409 for CT and $957 for MRI. These cost per abnormal finding estimates were limited because they did not factor in comparators or the consequences associated with an abnormal reading or FNs. The estimates only consider the cost of the neuroimaging procedure and the yield of abnormal finding with the respective procedure.
PMCID: PMC3377587  PMID: 23074404
7.  Associations between Intimate Partner Violence and Health among Men Who Have Sex with Men: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(3):e1001609.
Ana Maria Buller and colleagues review 19 studies and estimate the associations between the experience and perpetration of intimate partner violence and various health conditions and sexual risk behaviors among men who have sex with men.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Intimate partner violence (IPV) among men who have sex with men (MSM) is a significant problem. Little is known about the association between IPV and health for MSM. We aimed to estimate the association between experience and perpetration of IPV, and various health conditions and sexual risk behaviours among MSM.
Methods and Findings
We searched 13 electronic databases up to 23 October 2013 to identify research studies reporting the odds of health conditions or sexual risk behaviours for MSM experiencing or perpetrating IPV. Nineteen studies with 13,797 participants were included in the review. Random effects meta-analyses were performed to estimate pooled odds ratios (ORs). Exposure to IPV as a victim was associated with increased odds of substance use (OR = 1.88, 95% CIOR 1.59–2.22, I2 = 46.9%, 95% CII2 0%–78%), being HIV positive (OR = 1.46, 95% CIOR 1.26–1.69, I2 = 0.0%, 95% CII2 0%–62%), reporting depressive symptoms (OR = 1.52, 95% CIOR 1.24–1.86, I2 = 9.9%, 95% CII2 0%–91%), and engagement in unprotected anal sex (OR = 1.72, 95% CIOR 1.44–2.05, I2 = 0.0%, 95% CII2 0%–68%). Perpetration of IPV was associated with increased odds of substance use (OR = 1.99, 95% CIOR 1.33–2.99, I2 = 73.1%). These results should be interpreted with caution because of methodological weaknesses such as the lack of validated tools to measure IPV in this population and the diversity of recall periods and key outcomes in the identified studies.
Conclusions
MSM who are victims of IPV are more likely to engage in substance use, suffer from depressive symptoms, be HIV positive, and engage in unprotected anal sex. MSM who perpetrate IPV are more likely to engage in substance use. Our results highlight the need for research into effective interventions to prevent IPV in MSM, as well as the importance of providing health care professionals with training in how to address issues of IPV among MSM and the need to raise awareness of local and national support services.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Intimate partner violence (IPV, also called domestic violence) is a common and widespread problem. Globally, nearly a third of women are affected by IPV at some time in their life, but the prevalence of IPV (the proportion of the population affected by IPV) varies widely between countries. In central sub-Saharan Africa, for example, nearly two-thirds of women experience IPV during their lifetime, whereas in East Asia only one-sixth of women are affected. IPV is defined as physical, sexual, or emotional harm that is perpetrated on an individual by a current or former partner or spouse. Physical violence includes hitting, kicking, and other types of physical force; sexual violence means forcing a partner to take part in a sex act when the partner does not consent; and emotional abuse includes threatening a partner by, for example, stalking them or preventing them from seeing their family. The adverse effects of IPV for women include physical injury, depression and suicidal behaviour, and sexual and reproductive health problems such as HIV infection and unwanted pregnancies.
Why Was This Study Done?
IPV affects men as well as women. Men can be subjected to IPV either by a female partner or by a male partner in the case of men who have sex with men (MSM, a term that encompasses homosexual, bisexual, and transgender men, and heterosexual men who sometimes have sex with men). Recent reviews suggest that the prevalence of IPV in same-sex couples is as high as the prevalence of IPV for women in opposite-sex relationships: reported lifetime prevalences of IPV in homosexual male relationships range between 15.4% and 51%. Little is known, however, about the adverse health effects of IPV on MSM. It is important to understand how IPV affects the health of MSM so that appropriate services and interventions can be provided to support MSM who experience IPV. In this systematic review (a study that identifies all the research on a given topic using predefined criteria) and meta-analysis (a study that combines the results of several studies using statistical methods), the researchers investigate the associations between the experience and perpetration of IPV and various health conditions and sexual risk behaviours among MSM.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 19 studies that investigated associations between IPV and various health conditions or sexual risk behaviours (for example, unprotected anal sex, a risk factor for HIV infection) among MSM. The associations were expressed as odds ratios (ORs); an OR represents the odds (chances) that an outcome will occur given a particular exposure, compared to the odds of the outcome occurring in the absence of that exposure. The researchers estimated pooled ORs from the data in the individual studies using meta-analysis. The pooled lifetime prevalence of experiencing any IPV (which was measured in six studies) was 48%. Exposure to IPV as a victim was associated with an increased risk of substance (alcohol or drug) use (OR = 1.88, data from nine studies), reporting depressive symptoms (OR = 1.52, data from three studies), being HIV positive (OR = 1.46, data from ten studies), and engagement in unprotected sex (OR = 1.72, data from eight studies). Perpetration of IPV was associated with an increased risk of substance abuse (OR = 1.99, data from six studies).
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that MSM frequently experience IPV and that exposure to IPV is associated with several adverse health conditions and sexual risk behaviours. There were insufficient data to estimate the lifetime prevalence of IPV perpetration among MSM, but these findings also reveal an association between IPV perpetration and substance use. The accuracy of these findings is limited by heterogeneity (variability) between the studies included in the meta-analyses, by the design of these studies, and by the small number of studies. Despite these and other limitations, these findings highlight the need to undertake research to identify interventions to prevent IPV among MSM and to learn more about the health effects of IPV among MSM. They highlight the importance of health care professionals being aware that IPV is a problem for MSM and of training these professionals to assess MSM for IPV. Finally, these results highlight the need to improve the availability and effectiveness of support services to which health care professionals can refer MSM experiencing or perpetrating IPV.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001609.
The World Health Organization provides detailed information on intimate partner violence
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information about IPV and a fact sheet on understanding IPV that includes links to further resources
The UK National Health Service Choices website has a webpage about domestic violence, which includes descriptions of personal experiences
The US National Domestic Violence Hotline provides confidential help and support to people experiencing IPV, including MSM; its website includes personal stories of IPV
The US Gay Men's Domestic Violence Project/GLBTQ Domestic Violence Project provides support and services to MSM experiencing IPV; its website includes some personal stories
The UK not-for-profit organization Respect runs two advice lines: the Men's Advice Line provides advice and support for men experiencing domestic violence and abuse and the Respect Phoneline provides advice for domestic violence perpetrators and for professionals who would like further information about services for those using violence/abuse in their intimate partner relationships
The UK not-for-profit organization ManKind Initiative also provides support for male victims of IPV
The UK not-for-profit organization Broken Rainbow UK provides help and support for lesbians and MSM experiencing IPV
MedlinePlus provides links to other resources about domestic violence (in English and Spanish)
The UK charity Galop gives advice and support to people who have experienced biphobia, homophobia, transphobia, sexual violence, or domestic abuse
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001609
PMCID: PMC3942318  PMID: 24594975
8.  Suicide after Leaving the UK Armed Forces —A Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(3):e1000026.
Background
Few studies have examined suicide risk in individuals once they have left the military. We aimed to investigate the rate, timing, and risk factors for suicide in all those who had left the UK Armed Forces (1996–2005).
Methods and Findings
We carried out a cohort study of ex-Armed Forces personnel by linking national databases of discharged personnel and suicide deaths (which included deaths receiving either a suicide or undetermined verdict). Comparisons were made with both general and serving populations. During the study period 233,803 individuals left the Armed Forces and 224 died by suicide. Although the overall rate of suicide was not greater than that in the general population, the risk of suicide in men aged 24 y and younger who had left the Armed Forces was approximately two to three times higher than the risk for the same age groups in the general and serving populations (age-specific rate ratios ranging from 170 to 290). The risk of suicide for men aged 30–49 y was lower than that in the general population. The risk was persistent but may have been at its highest in the first 2 y following discharge. The risk of suicide was greatest in males, those who had served in the Army, those with a short length of service, and those of lower rank. The rate of contact with specialist mental health was lowest in the age groups at greatest risk of suicide (14% for those aged under 20 y, 20% for those aged 20–24 y).
Conclusions
Young men who leave the UK Armed Forces were at increased risk of suicide. This may reflect preservice vulnerabilities rather than factors related to service experiences or discharge. Preventive strategies might include practical and psychological preparation for discharge and encouraging appropriate help-seeking behaviour once individuals have left the services.
Navneet Kapur and colleagues find that young men who leave the United Kingdom Armed Forces are at increased risk of suicide.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Leaving any job can be hard but for people leaving the armed forces the adjustment to their new circumstances can sometimes be particularly difficult. For example, ex-military personnel may face obstacles to getting a new job, particularly if they were injured in action. Some become homeless. Others turn to alcohol or drugs or suffer mental illnesses such as depression. These things probably aren't common but those who leave the armed forces might also be at higher risk of suicide than the general population.
Why Was This Study Done?
Serving members of the UK Armed Forces (the British Army, the Naval Service, and the Royal Air Force) have a lower rate of suicide than the general UK population. The lower rate is probably due to “the healthy worker effect” (i.e., workers tend to be healthier than the general population, since the latter includes people unable to work due to illness or disability). However, there are anecdotal reports that ex-military personnel are more likely to die by suicide than are members of the general population. If these reports are correct, then measures should be put into place to prepare people for leaving the Armed Forces and to provide more support for them once they have left the military. The authors of this new study say that no previous studies had systematically examined suicide risk in individuals leaving the Armed Forces. In this new study, therefore, the researchers examine the suicide rate, timing, and risk factors for suicide in a large group (cohort) of former members of the UK Armed Forces.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers linked data on everyone who left the UK Armed Forces between 1996 and 2005 with information on suicides collected by the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide. Since 1996, the Inquiry has been collecting information about all suicides (defined as cases where the coroner has given a verdict of suicide or of “undetermined death”) in the UK, including information about whether the deceased used mental health services in the year before they died. The aim of the Inquiry is to reduce the risk of suicides (and homicides) in the UK by improving the country's mental health services. Between 1996 and 2005, 233,803 people left the Armed Forces and 224 (nearly all men) died by suicide. The researchers' statistical analysis of these data indicates that the overall suicide rate in the ex-military personnel was similar to that in the general population. However, the risk of suicide in men aged 24 y or younger who had left the military was 2–3 times greater than that in the same age group in both the general male population and in men serving in the Armed Forces. The risk of dying by suicide was highest in the first 2 y after leaving the military but remained raised for several years. Risk factors for suicide among ex-military personnel included being male, serving in the Army, having a short length of service, and being of lower rank. Only a fifth of the ex-military personnel who committed suicide had been in contact with mental health services in the year before they died, and the rate of contact with these services was lowest among individuals in the age groups at the highest risk of suicide.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that young men leaving the UK Armed Forces are at increased risk of suicide, particularly shortly after leaving. The study was not able to prove the reason for this increased risk, but the authors suggest three main possibilities: (1) the stress of transitioning to civilian life, (2) exposure to adverse experiences while in the military, or (3) a vulnerability to suicide before entering the military. The study provides some evidence to support the third hypothesis—untrained personnel with short lengths of service have a particularly high risk of dying by suicide after leaving the military, suggesting that the increased suicide risk may reflect a pre-military vulnerability. The researchers suggest that practical and psychological preparation might be helpful for people leaving the Armed Forces and that appropriate help-seeking behavior could be encouraged in these individuals. In the UK, the National Health Service is currently piloting a community-based mental health service for military veterans, characterized by regional clinical networks involving partnerships of relevant experts.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000026.
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Jitender Sareen and Shay-Lee Belik
The Manchester University Centre for Suicide Prevention provides information about the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide and about other research into suicide, and a list of useful Web sites and help lines for people going through crises
A recent article in the Observer newspaper by Mark Townsend discusses the problems facing UK military personnel when they leave the Armed Forces
Information about suicides among serving members of the UK Armed Forces is published by the Defence Analytical Services Agency
The UK National Health Service provides information about suicide, including statistics about suicide in the UK and links to other resources
MedlinePlus also provides links to further information and advice about suicide
The World Health Organization provides information on the global burden of suicide
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000026
PMCID: PMC2650723  PMID: 19260757
9.  The effect of depression on the association between military service and life satisfaction 
Purpose
The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of depression on the association between a history of military service and life satisfaction among a nationally representative sample of US males.
Methods
Data from 57,905 men were obtained from the 2006 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance (BRFSS) survey that assessed depression, history of military service, and life satisfaction. Multivariable logistic regression was conducted, controlling for demographics and physical health characteristics.
Results
In non-depressed men, a history of military service was associated with higher odds of life satisfaction, OR (95%CI) = 1.39 (1.07, 1.81). However, the interaction between depression and a history of military service was significant, OR (95%CI) = 0.56 (0.38–0.84), such that a history of military service was associated with equivalent odds of satisfaction in depressed men, OR (95%CI) = 0.78 (0.56–1.09).
Conclusions
Intervention efforts targeting depression in men with a history of military service may have a significant impact on their well being. Future research should replicate these findings, examine potential mechanisms of the effects, and study the utility of life satisfaction measures in this population.
doi:10.1007/s11136-011-0104-4
PMCID: PMC5064428  PMID: 22286221
10.  Incidence and risk factors of exercise-related knee disorders in young adult men 
Background
Musculoskeletal disorders and injuries are common causes of morbidity and loss of active, physically demanding training days in military populations. We evaluated the incidence, diagnosis, and risk factors of knee disorders and injuries in male Finnish military conscripts.
Methods
The study population comprised 5 cohorts of 1000 men performing their military service, classified according to birth year (1969, 1974, 1979, 1984, and 1989). Follow-up time for each conscript was the individual conscript’s full, completed military service period. Data for each man were collected from a standard pre-information questionnaire used by defense force healthcare officials and from all original medical reports of the garrison healthcare centers. Background variables for risk factor analysis included the conscripts’ service data, i.e., service class (A, B), length of military service, age, height, weight, body mass index (BMI), underweight, overweight, obesity, smoking habit, education, diseases, injuries, and subjective symptoms.
Results
Of the 4029 conscripts, 853 visited healthcare professionals for knee symptoms during their military service, and 103 of these had suffered a knee injury. Independent risk factors for the incidence of knee symptoms were: older age; service class A; overweight (BMI 25.0–29.9 kg/m2); smoking habit; comprehensive school education only; and self-reported previous symptoms of the musculoskeletal, respiratory, and gastrointestinal system. The majority of visits to garrison healthcare services due to knee symptoms occurred during the first few months of military service. Knee symptoms were negatively correlated with self-reported mental and behavioral disorders.
Conclusions
The present study highlights the frequency of knee disorders and injuries in young men during physically demanding military training. One-fifth of the male conscripts visited defense force healthcare professionals due to knee symptoms during their service period. Independent risk factors for the incidence of knee symptoms during military service were age at military service; military service class A; overweight; smoking habit; comprehensive school education only; and self-reported previous symptoms of the musculoskeletal system, respiratory system, or gastrointestinal system. These risk factors should be considered when planning and implementing procedures to reduce knee disorders and injuries during compulsory military service.
doi:10.1186/s12891-017-1701-3
PMCID: PMC5545830  PMID: 28784124
Knee; Epidemiology; Incidence; Risk factors; Young adult; Military training; Physical activity; Disorders and injuries
11.  Gender Differences in the Physical and Psychological Manifestation of Childhood Trauma and/or Adversity in People with Psychosis 
Frontiers in Psychology  2015;6:1768.
The link between childhood trauma and/or adversity and risk of psychosis is well known. Our aim was to determine the prevalence of childhood trauma and/or adversity in people who have psychotic disorders and to investigate the association between childhood trauma and/or adversity and a range of social and health measures. Participants (n = 391, 42% male) were specifically asked about any experience of childhood trauma and/or adversity. Respondents provided information about education, employment, physical health, and health service utilization. Univariate analyses revealed that childhood trauma and/or adversity was associated with poorer levels of self-reported physical health and social problems. This includes the experience of chronic pain, headaches, arthritis, asthma, and victimization/stigma in men. Participants with a childhood trauma and/or adversity history indicated higher rates of lifetime suicide attempts with women reporting more lifetime depressive symptoms. Multivariate analyses revealed differing profiles in relation to physical and psychological health variable between males and females. Males with the experience of childhood trauma and/or adversity were significantly more likely to report cardiovascular/stroke issues, migraines and anhedonia. Females with the experience of childhood trauma and/or adversity were more likely to report a lifetime history of elevated mood and to be married or in a de facto relationship. There has been very little research into the assessment and treatment of the effects of childhood trauma and/or adversity in adults with psychosis. Childhood trauma and/or adversity may contribute to higher rates of self-reported poor health in men and is associated with increased depression in women. Our findings suggest that interventions to address the effects of past trauma are urgently needed.
doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01768
PMCID: PMC4655246  PMID: 26635676
childhood trauma and/or adversity; psychosis; self-reported health status; gender
12.  Intimate Partner Violence and Depression Symptom Severity among South African Women during Pregnancy and Postpartum: Population-Based Prospective Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2016;13(1):e1001943.
Background
Violence against women by intimate partners remains unacceptably common worldwide. The evidence base for the assumed psychological impacts of intimate partner violence (IPV) is derived primarily from studies conducted in high-income countries. A recently published systematic review identified 13 studies linking IPV to incident depression, none of which were conducted in sub-Saharan Africa. To address this gap in the literature, we analyzed longitudinal data collected during the course of a 3-y cluster-randomized trial with the aim of estimating the association between IPV and depression symptom severity.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a secondary analysis of population-based, longitudinal data collected from 1,238 pregnant women during a 3-y cluster-randomized trial of a home visiting intervention in Cape Town, South Africa. Surveys were conducted at baseline, 6 mo, 18 mo, and 36 mo (85% retention). The primary explanatory variable of interest was exposure to four types of physical IPV in the past year. Depression symptom severity was measured using the Xhosa version of the ten-item Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. In a pooled cross-sectional multivariable regression model adjusting for potentially confounding time-fixed and time-varying covariates, lagged IPV intensity had a statistically significant association with depression symptom severity (regression coefficient b = 1.04; 95% CI, 0.61–1.47), with estimates from a quantile regression model showing greater adverse impacts at the upper end of the conditional depression distribution. Fitting a fixed effects regression model accounting for all time-invariant confounding (e.g., history of childhood sexual abuse) yielded similar findings (b = 1.54; 95% CI, 1.13–1.96). The magnitudes of the coefficients indicated that a one–standard-deviation increase in IPV intensity was associated with a 12.3% relative increase in depression symptom severity over the same time period. The most important limitations of our study include exposure assessment that lacked measurement of sexual violence, which could have caused us to underestimate the severity of exposure; the extended latency period in the lagged analysis, which could have caused us to underestimate the strength of the association; and outcome assessment that was limited to the use of a screening instrument for depression symptom severity.
Conclusions
In this secondary analysis of data from a population-based, 3-y cluster-randomized controlled trial, IPV had a statistically significant association with depression symptom severity. The estimated associations were relatively large in magnitude, consistent with findings from high-income countries, and robust to potential confounding by time-invariant factors. Intensive health sector responses to reduce IPV and improve women’s mental health should be explored.
In a population-based prospective cohort study, Alexander C. Tsai and colleagues examine bidirectional associations between intimate partner violence and depressed mood among pregnant and postpartum women living near Cape Town, South Africa.
Editors' Summary
Background
Violence against women perpetrated by an intimate partner is a common and widespread problem. Rates of intimate partner violence (IPV, also called domestic violence) vary widely between countries but, globally, nearly a third of women experience IPV at some time in their life. IPV is defined as physical, sexual, or emotional violence that is perpetrated on an individual by a current or former partner or spouse. Physical violence includes slapping, pushing or shoving, hitting with a fist or another object, and threatening or attacking a partner with a weapon; sexual violence means forcing a partner to take part in a sex act when the partner does not give consent; and emotional violence includes threatening a partner by, for example, preventing them seeing their family. The adverse effects of IPV against women include physical injury and sexual and reproductive health problems such as HIV infection and unwanted pregnancies.
Why Was This Study Done?
Studies undertaken in high-income countries have also shown an association between IPV and adverse mental health outcomes among women, such as depression (long-lasting and overwhelming feelings of sadness and hopelessness) and suicidal behavior. However, few if any studies on the association between IPV and depression have been conducted in sub-Saharan Africa, where the rates of IPV against women are among the highest in the world. In this population-based prospective cohort study, the researchers analyze longitudinal data collected during a cluster-randomized trial that involved more than 1,200 women living in townships near Cape Town, South Africa. The primary aim of this randomized trial was to investigate whether regular visits by “mentor mothers” (women who had successfully raised children in the face of adversity) improved maternal and child health in the 3 y following the child’s birth. As part of this trial, the researchers collected data at multiple time points (longitudinal data) on women’s experiences of IPV and symptoms of depression. Here, the researchers conduct a secondary analysis of these data to estimate the association between IPV severity and depression symptom severity among women during and following pregnancy.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
During the cluster-randomized trial, the researchers asked the women about their exposure to physical IPV during the past year in surveys undertaken at baseline, 6 mo, 18 mo, and 36 mo. Depression symptom severity was also measured in the women at these time points using a version of the ten-item Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale in the local language Xhosa; this scale is an instrument that screens for postnatal depression by asking questions about depressive symptoms experienced during the past seven days by women who have recently had a baby, such as how often they have felt sad or miserable. Statistical analyses of these data indicated that, after allowing for other factors that might affect depression symptom severity, IPV intensity had a statistically significant association (an association unlikely to have arisen by chance) with depression symptom severity. That is, an increase in IPV severity among the study participants was associated with an increase in depression symptom severity over the same period. Notably, this association was bidirectional. That is, depression symptom severity also had a statistically significant association with IPV intensity.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that, among women living in poor neighborhoods in Cape Town who have recently had a baby, IPV severity had a statistically significant association with depression symptom severity. The magnitude of this association was relatively large and consistent with findings from high-income countries. The accuracy of these findings may be limited by certain aspects of this study. For example, because the study participants were not asked about sexual violence, the severity of IPV exposure may be underestimated. Nevertheless, these findings—in particular, the demonstration that the association between IPV and depression is bilateral—have important policy and programmatic implications for women’s health in sub-Saharan Africa. Specifically, because IPV and depression may be intertwined in a vicious cycle, with IPV increasing the risk of future depression and depression increasing the risk of future victimization, multi-component interventions that combine a broad-based package of services (for example, provision of legal aid, transitional housing, and childcare support) with interventions designed to treat depression (for example cognitive-behavioral therapy) may be needed to reduce IPV and improve women’s mental health.
Additional Information
This list of resources contains links that can be accessed when viewing the PDF on a device or via the online version of the article at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001943.
A PLOS Medicine Research Article by Devries et al. reviews the evidence from high-income countries for an association between IPV and depression
The World Health Organization provides detailed information on intimate partner violence and on depression (some information in several languages)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about intimate partner violence, including some personal stories, and detailed information about depression
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information about intimate partner violence and links to further resources
The US National Domestic Violence Hotline provides confidential help and support to people experiencing IPV; its website includes personal stories of IPV
The US National Institute of Mental Health provides information on all aspects of depression
MedlinePlus provides links to other resources about domestic violence and about depression (in English and Spanish)
More information about the "mentor mother" trial is available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001943
PMCID: PMC4718639  PMID: 26784110
13.  Depression in military medicine cadets: a cross-sectional study 
Background
Military medicine cadets undergo strenuous military training alongside demanding medical studies. This stressful and complex educational environment can lead to the emergence of depressive symptoms. We investigated the prevalence of depressive symptoms in a cohort of military medicine cadets.
Methods
We conducted a descriptive questionnaire-based cross-sectional study among Greek military medicine cadets in the undergraduate program of the Hellenic Military School of Combat Support Officers. The Greek translation of the Zung self-rating depression scale questionnaire was used to screen for the presence of depressive symptoms. In addition, demographic, academic and dietary information was collected. The Shapiro-Wilk test of normality, Pearson correlation test, Chi-square test, t-test and Mann Whitney U test were employed for statistical analysis.
Results
We enrolled 55 female and 91 male military medicine cadets with a mean age of 19.84 years (SD = 0.99). The mean Zung crude score was 43.32 (SD = 4.55): 42.8 (SD = 4.43) for female cadets and 43.64 (SD = 4.6) for male cadets. Cadets were further subdivided into low and high risk groups for the presence of depressive symptoms. We identified 57 (39 %) cadets with a total Zung crude score of 45 or above: 21 females and 36 males. Statistical analysis did not reveal any significant differences between the two groups based on gender, year of training, academic performance, alcohol consumption, smoking status, vitamin supplementation, dietary habits or BMI.
Conclusions
We report a high prevalence of depressive symptoms in a cohort of military medicine cadets that underscores the need for effective screening and appropriate and timely interventions. We did not identify any related risk factors. Military medicine cadets are exposed to a challenging military and medical training environment, and thus represent a group at risk for development of depression.
doi:10.1186/s40779-015-0058-x
PMCID: PMC4640107  PMID: 26557991
Depression; Military medicine; Medical students; Medical education; Military training
14.  Domestic Violence and Perinatal Mental Disorders: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(5):e1001452.
Louise Howard and colleagues conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis to estimate the prevalence and odds of experience of domestic violence experience among women with antenatal and postnatal mental health disorders.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Domestic violence in the perinatal period is associated with adverse obstetric outcomes, but evidence is limited on its association with perinatal mental disorders. We aimed to estimate the prevalence and odds of having experienced domestic violence among women with antenatal and postnatal mental disorders (depression and anxiety disorders including post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD], eating disorders, and psychoses).
Methods and Findings
We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis (PROSPERO reference CRD42012002048). Data sources included searches of electronic databases (to 15 February 2013), hand searches, citation tracking, update of a review on victimisation and mental disorder, and expert recommendations. Included studies were peer-reviewed experimental or observational studies that reported on women aged 16 y or older, that assessed the prevalence and/or odds of having experienced domestic violence, and that assessed symptoms of perinatal mental disorder using a validated instrument. Two reviewers screened 1,125 full-text papers, extracted data, and independently appraised study quality. Odds ratios were pooled using meta-analysis.
Sixty-seven papers were included. Pooled estimates from longitudinal studies suggest a 3-fold increase in the odds of high levels of depressive symptoms in the postnatal period after having experienced partner violence during pregnancy (odds ratio 3.1, 95% CI 2.7–3.6). Increased odds of having experienced domestic violence among women with high levels of depressive, anxiety, and PTSD symptoms in the antenatal and postnatal periods were consistently reported in cross-sectional studies. No studies were identified on eating disorders or puerperal psychosis. Analyses were limited because of study heterogeneity and lack of data on baseline symptoms, preventing clear findings on causal directionality.
Conclusions
High levels of symptoms of perinatal depression, anxiety, and PTSD are significantly associated with having experienced domestic violence. High-quality evidence is now needed on how maternity and mental health services should address domestic violence and improve health outcomes for women and their infants in the perinatal period.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Domestic violence—physical, sexual, or emotional abuse by an intimate partner or family member—is a major public health problem and although more common in women, can also affect men. Due to the nature of the problem, it is difficult to collect accurate figures on the scale of domestic violence, but a study by the World Health Organization in ten countries found that 15%–71% of women aged 15–49 years reported physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lives. Women experiencing domestic violence have significant short- and long-term health problems, particularly regarding their mental health: experience of domestic violence can lead to a range of mental health disorders such as depression, psychosis, eating disorders, and even suicide attempts.
Why Was This Study Done?
As perinatal mental health disorders are among the commonest health problems in pregnancy and the postpartum period, and given the rate of domestic violence during pregnancy (previous studies have suggested a domestic violence prevalence of 4%–8% during pregnancy and the postnatal period), it is plausible that there may be a link between perinatal mental health disorders and having experienced domestic violence. Indeed, previous reviews have suggested the existence of such an association but were limited by the small number of included studies and focused on depression only, rather than the full range of antenatal and postnatal mental health disorders. So in this study the researchers systematically reviewed published studies to provide more robust estimates of the prevalence of having experienced domestic violence among women with antenatal and postnatal mental health disorders; the researchers also used a meta-analysis to estimate the odds (chance) of having experienced domestic violence among women with antenatal and postnatal mental health disorders.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers searched multiple databases and hand searched three relevant journals using key search terms to identify all types of relevant studies. Using specific criteria, the researchers retrieved and assessed over 1,000 full papers, of which 67 met the criteria for their systematic review. The researchers assessed the quality of each selected study and included only those studies that used validated diagnostic instruments and screening tools to assess mental health disorders in their calculations of the pooled (combined) odds ratio (OR) through meta-analysis.
Using these methods, in cross-sectional studies (studies conducted at one point in time), the researchers found that women with probable depression in the antenatal period reported a high prevalence and increased odds of having experienced partner violence during their lifetime (OR = 3), during the past year (OR = 2.8), and during pregnancy (OR = 5). The results were similar for the postnatal period. The evidence was less robust for anxiety disorders: among women with probable anxiety in the antenatal period, the researchers found an OR of 2.9 of having experienced lifetime partner violence. The odds were less in the postnatal period (OR = 1.4) In their analysis of longitudinal studies (follow-up studies over a period of time), the researchers found an increased odds of probable postnatal depression both among women who reported having ever experienced partner violence in their lifetime (OR = 2.9) and among women who reported having experienced partner violence during pregnancy (OR = 3.1). The researchers also found a combined prevalence estimate of 12.7% for probable depression during the postnatal period following experiences of partner violence during pregnancy. Because of limited data, the researchers could not calculate an OR of the association between probable antenatal depression and later experiences of partner violence.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that women with high levels of symptoms of perinatal mental health disorders—antenatal and postnatal anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder—have a high prevalence and increased odds of having experienced domestic violence both over their lifetime and during pregnancy. However, these findings cannot prove causality, they fail to show a two-way association (that is, perinatal mental health disorders leading to subsequent domestic violence), and no information on other perinatal mental disorders, such as eating disorders and puerperal psychosis, was available. The variation of the quality of the included studies also limits the results, highlighting the need for high-quality data to suggest how maternity and mental health services could address domestic violence and improve health outcomes for women and their infants in the future. Nevertheless, this study emphasizes the importance of identifying and responding to possible domestic violence among women attending antenatal and mental health services.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001452.
The World Health Organization provides information and statistics about violence against women and also about mental health disorders during pregnancy
The UK Royal College of Psychiatrists has information for professionals and patients about mental health disorders during pregnancy
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001452
PMCID: PMC3665851  PMID: 23723741
15.  Sexual Violence and Mental Health Symptoms Among National Guard and Reserve Soldiers 
ABSTRACT
BACKGROUND
Reserve and National Guard (NG) soldiers report disproportionate mental health problems relative to active duty military upon returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. However, few studies have examined whether exposure to particular types of traumatic events (e.g., lifetime sexual violence) is associated with this increased burden of psychopathology.
OBJECTIVE
The current study examined the prevalence of lifetime sexual violence exposure as well as the adjusted odds and population attributable fraction of psychopathology associated with sexual violence in a large sample of male and female Reserve and NG soldiers.
DESIGN
Baseline structured telephone interviews were conducted in 2009.
PARTICIPANTS
1,030 Reserve (23 % female) and 973 NG (15 % female) soldiers.
MAIN MEASURES
Four items assessed lifetime and deployment-related sexual violence. Probable lifetime and past-year posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression were assessed with the PTSD Checklist and the Patient Health Questionnaire, respectively.
KEY RESULTS
Lifetime sexual violence prevalence was 37.4 % and 27.6 % among Reserve and NG women, and 4.3 % and 3.7 % among Reserve and NG men, respectively. Recent deployment-related sexual violence ranged from 1.4 to 2.6 % for women and 0 % for men. Regression analyses indicated that the adjusted odds of probable past-year and lifetime PTSD and depression were 1.2 to 3.5 times greater among those reporting sexual violence relative to non-victims. The proportion of probable lifetime PTSD and depression attributable to sexual violence was 45.2 % and 16.6 %, respectively, in the Reserves, and 10.3 % and 6.2 %, respectively, in the NG.
CONCLUSIONS
Lifetime sexual violence prevalence was high among female soldiers, with approximately one-third of Reserve and National Guard women reporting a history. The majority of sexual violence was not related to the most recent deployment; however, sexual violence contributed to a high burden of psychopathology. Findings emphasize a need to screen for lifetime sexual violence and associated mental disorders in military samples.
doi:10.1007/s11606-013-2555-5
PMCID: PMC3889956  PMID: 23918158
reserve; national guard; sexual violence; PTSD; depression
16.  Prevalence of Consensual Male–Male Sex and Sexual Violence, and Associations with HIV in South Africa: A Population-Based Cross-Sectional Study 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(6):e1001472.
Using a method that offered complete privacy to participants, Rachel Jewkes and colleagues conducted a survey among South African men about their lifetime same-sex experiences.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
In sub-Saharan Africa the population prevalence of men who have sex with men (MSM) is unknown, as is the population prevalence of male-on-male sexual violence, and whether male-on-male sexual violence may relate to HIV risk. This paper describes lifetime prevalence of consensual male–male sexual behavior and male-on-male sexual violence (victimization and perpetration) in two South African provinces, socio-demographic factors associated with these experiences, and associations with HIV serostatus.
Methods and Findings
In a cross-sectional study conducted in 2008, men aged 18–49 y from randomly selected households in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces provided anonymous survey data and dried blood spots for HIV serostatus assessment. Interviews were completed in 1,737 of 2,298 (75.6%) of enumerated and eligible households. From these households, 1,705 men (97.1%) provided data on lifetime history of same-sex experiences, and 1,220 (70.2%) also provided dried blood spots for HIV testing. 5.4% (n = 92) of participants reported a lifetime history of any consensual sexual activity with another man; 9.6% (n = 164) reported any sexual victimization by a man, and 3.0% (n = 51) reported perpetrating sexual violence against another man. 85.0% (n = 79) of men with a history of consensual sex with men reported having a current female partner, and 27.7% (n = 26) reported having a current male partner. Of the latter, 80.6% (n = 21/26) also reported having a female partner. Men reporting a history of consensual male–male sexual behavior are more likely to have been a victim of male-on-male sexual violence (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 7.24; 95% CI 4.26–12.3), and to have perpetrated sexual violence against another man (aOR = 3.10; 95% CI 1.22–7.90). Men reporting consensual oral/anal sex with a man were more likely to be HIV+ than men with no such history (aOR = 3.11; 95% CI 1.24–7.80). Men who had raped a man were more likely to be HIV+ than non-perpetrators (aOR = 3.58; 95% CI 1.17–10.9).
Conclusions
In this sample, one in 20 men (5.4%) reported lifetime consensual sexual contact with a man, while about one in ten (9.6%) reported experience of male-on-male sexual violence victimization. Men who reported having had sex with men were more likely to be HIV+, as were men who reported perpetrating sexual violence towards other men. Whilst there was no direct measure of male–female concurrency (having overlapping sexual relationships with men and women), the data suggest that this may have been common. These findings suggest that HIV prevention messages regarding male–male sex in South Africa should be mainstreamed with prevention messages for the general population, and sexual health interventions and HIV prevention interventions for South African men should explicitly address male-on-male sexual violence.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
AIDS first emerged in the early 1980s among gay men living in the US, but it soon became clear that AIDS also infects heterosexual men and women. Now, three decades on, globally, 34 million people (two-thirds of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa and half of whom are women) are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and 2.5 million people become infected every year. HIV is most often spread by having unprotected sex with an infected partner, and most sexual transmission of HIV now occurs during heterosexual sex. However, 5%–10% of all new HIV infections still occur in men who have sex with men (MSM; homosexual, bisexual, and transgender men, and heterosexual men who sometimes have consensual sex with men). Moreover, in the concentrated HIV epidemics of high-income countries (epidemics in which the prevalence of HIV infection is more than 5% in at-risk populations such as sex workers but less than 1% in the general population), male-to-male sexual contact remains the most important transmission route, and MSM often have a higher prevalence of HIV infection than heterosexual men.
Why Was This Study Done?
By contrast to high-income countries, HIV epidemics in sub-Saharan Africa are generalized—the prevalence of HIV infection is 1% or more in the general population. Because male-to-male sexual behavior is criminalized in many African countries and because homosexuality is widely stigmatized, little is known about the prevalence of consensual male–male sexual behavior in sub-Saharan Africa. This information and a better understanding of male–female sexual concurrency (having overlapping sexual relationships with men and women) and of how male-to-male transmission contributes to generalized HIV epidemics is needed to inform the design of HIV prevention strategies for use in sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, very little is known about male-on-male sexual violence. Such violence is potentially important to study because we know that male-on-female violence is associated with increased HIV risk for both victims and perpetrators. In this cross-sectional study (an investigation that measures population characteristics at a single time point), the researchers use data from a population-based household survey to investigate the lifetime prevalence of consensual male–male sexual behavior and male-on-male sexual violence (victimization and perpetration) among men in South Africa and the association of these experiences with HIV infection.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
About 1,700 adult men from randomly selected households in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces of South Africa self-completed a survey that included questions about their lifetime history of same-sex experiences using audio-enhanced personal digital assistants, a data collection method that provided a totally private and anonymous environment for the disclosure of illegal and stigmatized behavior; 1,220 of them also provided dried blood spots for HIV testing. Ninety-two men (5.4% of the participants) reported consensual sexual activity (for example, anal or oral sex) with another man at some time during their life; 9.6% of the men reported that they had been forced to have sex with another man (sexual victimization), and 3% reported that they had perpetrated sexual violence against another man. Most of the men who reported consensual sex with men, including those with current male partners, reported that they had a current female partner. Men with a history of consensual male–male sexual behavior were more likely to have been a victim or perpetrator of male-on-male sexual violence than men without a history of such experiences. Finally, men who reported consensual oral or anal sex with a man were more likely to be HIV+ than men without such a history, and perpetrators of male-on-male sexual violence were more likely to be HIV+ than non-perpetrators.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings provide new information about male–male sexual behaviors, male-on-male sexual violence, male–female concurrency, and HIV prevalence among men in two South African provinces. The precision of these findings is likely to be affected by the small numbers of men reporting a history of consensual male–male sexual behavior and of male-on-male sexual violence. Importantly, because the study was cross-sectional, these findings cannot indicate whether the association between consensual male–male sexual behaviors and increased risk of male-on-male sexual violence is causal. Moreover, these findings may not be generalizable to other regions of South Africa or to other African countries. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that information about the risks of male–male sexual behaviors should be included in HIV prevention strategies targeted at the general population in South Africa and that HIV prevention interventions for South African men should explicitly address male-on-male sexual violence. Similar HIV prevention strategies may also be suitable for other African countries, but are likely to succeed only in countries that have, like South Africa, decriminalized consensual homosexual behavior.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001472.
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Jerome Singh
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on HIV infection and AIDS
NAM/aidsmap provides basic information about HIV/AIDS, including summaries of recent research findings on HIV care and treatment
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity, on many aspects of HIV/AIDS, including information on HIV and men who have sex with men, on HIV prevention, and on AIDS in Africa (in English and Spanish)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has information about HIV/AIDS among men who have sex with men (in English and Spanish)
Patient stories about living with HIV/AIDS are available through Avert; the charity website Healthtalkonline also provides personal stories about living with HIV
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001472
PMCID: PMC3708702  PMID: 23853554
17.  Effect of Treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea on Depressive Symptoms: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(11):e1001762.
In a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials, Matthew James and colleagues investigate the effects of continuous positive airway pressure or mandibular advancement devices on depression.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is associated with increased morbidity and mortality, and decreased quality of life. Treatment with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or mandibular advancement devices (MADs) is effective for many symptoms of OSA. However, it remains controversial whether treatment with CPAP or MAD also improves depressive symptoms.
Methods and Findings
We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials that examined the effect of CPAP or MADs on depressive symptoms in patients with OSA. We searched Medline, EMBASE, the Cochrane Central Registry of Controlled Trials, and PsycINFO from the inception of the databases until August 15, 2014, for relevant articles.
In a random effects meta-analysis of 19 identified trials, CPAP treatment resulted in an improvement in depressive symptoms compared to control, but with significant heterogeneity between trials (Q statistic, p<0.001; I2 = 71.3%, 95% CI: 54%, 82%). CPAP treatment resulted in significantly greater improvement in depressive symptoms in the two trials with a higher burden of depression at baseline (meta-regression, p<0.001). The pooled standardized mean difference (SMD) in depressive symptoms with CPAP treatment in these two trial populations with baseline depression was 2.004 (95% CI: 1.387, 2.621), compared to 0.197 (95% CI: 0.059, 0.334) for 15 trials of populations without depression at baseline. Pooled estimates of the treatment effect of CPAP were greater in parallel arm trials than in crossover trials (meta-regression, p = 0.076). Random effects meta-analysis of five trials of MADs showed a significant improvement in depressive symptoms with MADs versus controls: SMD = 0.214 (95% CI: 0.026, 0.401) without significant heterogeneity (I2 = 0%, 95% CI: 0%, 79%). Studies were limited by the use of depressive symptom scales that have not been validated specifically in people with OSA.
Conclusions
CPAP and MADs may be useful components of treatment of depressive symptoms in individuals with OSA and depression. The efficacy of CPAP and MADs compared to standard therapies for depression is unknown.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a sleep-related breathing disorder that is particularly common among middle-aged and elderly people, although most are unaware that they have the condition. It is characterized by the occurrence of numerous brief (ten seconds or so) breathing interruptions during sleep. These “apneas” occur when relaxation of the upper airway muscles decreases airflow, which lowers the level of oxygen in the blood. Consequently, affected individuals are frequently aroused from deep sleep as they struggle to breathe. Symptoms of OSA include loud snoring and daytime sleepiness. Treatments include lifestyle changes such as losing weight (excess fat around the neck increases airway collapse) and smoking cessation. Mild to moderate OSA can also be treated using a mandibular advancement device (MAD), a “splint” that fits inside the mouth and pushes the jaw and tongue forward to increase the space at the back of the throat and reduce airway narrowing. For severe OSA, doctors recommend continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), in which a machine blows pressurized air into the airway through a facemask to keep it open.
Why Was This Study Done?
OSA is a serious condition that is associated with an increased risk of illness and death. Clinical depression (long-lasting, overwhelming feelings of sadness and hopelessness), for example, is common among people with OSA. The interaction between these frequently co-morbid (co-existing) conditions is complex. The sleep disruption and weight gain that are often associated with depression could cause or worsen OSA. Conversely, OSA could trigger depression by causing sleep disruption and by inducing cognitive changes (changes in thinking) by intermittently starving the brain of oxygen. If the latter scenario is correct, then treating OSA with CPAP or MADs might improve depressive symptoms. Several trials have investigated this possibility, but their results have been equivocal. Here, the researchers undertake a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials that have examined the effect of CPAP or MADs on depressive symptoms in patients with OSA to find out whether treating co-morbid OSA in patients with depression can help to treat depression. A randomized controlled trial compares the outcomes of individuals chosen to receive different interventions through the play of chance, a systematic review uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic, and meta-analysis uses statistical methods to combine the results of several studies.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 22 trials that investigated the effects of CPAP or MAD treatment in patients with OSA and that measured depressive symptoms before and after treatment. Meta-analysis of the results of 19 trials that provided information about the effect of CPAP on depressive symptoms indicated that CPAP improved depressive symptoms compared to the control intervention (usually sham CPAP) but revealed considerable heterogeneity (variability) between trials. Notably, CPAP treatment resulted in a greater improvement in depressive symptoms in trials in which there was a high prevalence of depression at baseline than in trials in which there was a low prevalence of depression at baseline. Moreover, the magnitude of this improvement in depressive symptoms in trials with a high prevalence of depression at baseline was large enough to be clinically relevant. Meta-analysis of five trials that provided information about the effect of MADs on depressive symptoms indicated that MADs also improved depressive symptoms compared to the control intervention (sham MAD).
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that both CPAP and MAD treatment for OSA can result in modest improvements in depressive symptoms and that populations with high initial levels of depressive symptoms may reap the greatest benefits of CPAP treatment. These findings give no indication of the efficacy of CPAP and MADs compared to standard treatments for depression such as antidepressant medications. Moreover, their accuracy may be limited by methodological limitations within the trials included in the meta-analyses reported here. For example, the questionnaires used to measure depression in these trials were not validated for use in people with OSA. Further high-quality randomized controlled trials are therefore needed to confirm the findings of this systematic review and meta-analysis. For now, however, these findings suggest that the use of CPAP and MADs may help improve depressive symptoms among people with OSA.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001762.
The US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has information (including several videos) about sleep apnea (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information and personal stories about obstructive sleep apnea and depression
The not-for-profit American Sleep Apnea Association provides detailed information about sleep apnea for patients and healthcare professionals, including personal stories about the condition
The US National Institute of Mental Health provides information on all aspects of depression (in English and Spanish)
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America provides information about sleep disorders
The MedlinePlus encyclopedia has a page on obstructive sleep apnea; MedlinePlus provides links to further information and advice about obstructive sleep apnea and about depression (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001762
PMCID: PMC4244041  PMID: 25423175
18.  Depression in HIV-positive women is associated with changes in antiretroviral treatment regimens 
Journal of the International AIDS Society  2014;17(4Suppl 3):19720.
Introduction
Depression is a co-morbidity of clinical significance in HIV-positive patients with an estimated prevalence of more than 20%. Sex and gender-related differences in depression are well described in HIV-negative populations, demonstrating that more women are being affected. So far little is known about frequency and characteristics of depression in HIV-positive men and women.
Materials and Methods
Primary objective of our prospective epidemiological study was the evaluation of the Beck score for depression in male and female patients of the Frankfurt HIV Cohort. The Beck Depression Inventory (BDI-II) is a self-report symptom inventory made up of 21 questions, each with 4 possible answers, correlating with a certain point value. Interpretation: score 14–19: mild depression; score 20–28: moderate depression; score ≥29: severe depression. Secondary objectives of the analysis were factors that might possibly influence the disposition for depression in HIV-positive patients, e.g. age, antiretroviral treatment history, co-morbidities and socioeconomic status.
Results
Between January and October 2013, 348 patients were enrolled in the study, 161 women and 187 men of the Frankfurt HIV Cohort, who had a routine appointment at the HIV-Center of the University Clinic Frankfurt. The mean age of all study participants was 45 years (range 22–80). The majority of patients were on antiretroviral therapy (91%) at study entrance. The median BDI-II score in all patients was 8 (0–49); in female patients 10 (0–42), in male patients 6 (0–49), respectively (Table 1). Significant more women than men showed a score for moderate depression (p=0.006). Factors associated with a BDI-II score ≥20 in women were older age (>45 years), living alone, unemployment and the number of prior changes in antiretroviral therapy.
Conclusions
Depression in people living with HIV shows sex and gender-related differences that might also influence antiretroviral treatment strategies. HIV specialists should be aware of these gender-specific aspects and consider routine screening for depression especially in female patients of older age or those with multiple therapy changes in history.
doi:10.7448/IAS.17.4.19720
PMCID: PMC4225293  PMID: 25397466
19.  Adjunctive Atypical Antipsychotic Treatment for Major Depressive Disorder: A Meta-Analysis of Depression, Quality of Life, and Safety Outcomes 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(3):e1001403.
In a systematic review and meta-analysis, Glen Spielmans and colleagues find that adjunctive atypical antipsychotic medications are associated with small-to-moderate improvements in depressive symptoms in patients with depression, but there is little evidence for improvement on measures of quality of life, and these medications are linked to adverse events such as weight gain.
Background
Atypical antipsychotic medications are widely prescribed for the adjunctive treatment of depression, yet their total risk–benefit profile is not well understood. We thus conducted a systematic review of the efficacy and safety profiles of atypical antipsychotic medications used for the adjunctive treatment of depression.
Methods and Findings
We included randomized trials comparing adjunctive antipsychotic medication to placebo for treatment-resistant depression in adults. Our literature search (conducted in December 2011 and updated on December 14, 2012) identified 14 short-term trials of aripiprazole, olanzapine/fluoxetine combination (OFC), quetiapine, and risperidone. When possible, we supplemented published literature with data from manufacturers' clinical trial registries and US Food and Drug Administration New Drug Applications. Study duration ranged from 4 to 12 wk. All four drugs had statistically significant effects on remission, as follows: aripiprazole (odds ratio [OR], 2.01; 95% CI, 1.48–2.73), OFC (OR, 1.42; 95% CI, 1.01–2.0), quetiapine (OR, 1.79; 95% CI, 1.33–2.42), and risperidone (OR, 2.37; 95% CI, 1.31–4.30).
The number needed to treat (NNT) was 19 for OFC and nine for each other drug. All drugs with the exception of OFC also had statistically significant effects on response rates, as follows: aripiprazole (OR, 2.07; 95% CI, 1.58–2.72; NNT, 7), OFC (OR, 1.30, 95% CI, 0.87–1.93), quetiapine (OR, 1.53, 95% CI, 1.17–2.0; NNT, 10), and risperidone (OR, 1.83, 95% CI, 1.16–2.88; NNT, 8). All four drugs showed statistically significant effects on clinician-rated depression severity measures (Hedges' g ranged from 0.26 to 0.48; mean difference of 2.69 points on the Montgomery–Asberg Depression Rating Scale across drugs). On measures of functioning and quality of life, these medications produced either no benefit or a very small benefit, except for risperidone, which had a small-to-moderate effect on quality of life (g = 0.49).
Treatment was linked to several adverse events, including akathisia (aripiprazole), sedation (quetiapine, OFC, and aripiprazole), abnormal metabolic laboratory results (quetiapine and OFC), and weight gain (all four drugs, especially OFC). Shortcomings in study design and data reporting, as well as use of post hoc analyses, may have inflated the apparent benefits of treatment and reduced the apparent incidence of adverse events.
Conclusions
Atypical antipsychotic medications for the adjunctive treatment of depression are efficacious in reducing observer-rated depressive symptoms, but clinicians should interpret these findings cautiously in light of (1) the small-to-moderate-sized benefits, (2) the lack of benefit with regards to quality of life or functional impairment, and (3) the abundant evidence of potential treatment-related harm.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Everyone feels miserable occasionally. But for people who are clinically depressed, feelings of sadness and hopelessness and physical symptoms such as sleeping badly can last for months or years and can make them feel life is no longer worth living. Depression affects one in six people at some time during their life. Clinicians diagnose depression by asking their patients a series of questions about their feelings and symptoms. The answer to each question is given a score, and the total score from the questionnaire (“depression rating scale”) indicates the severity of depression. Treatment of depression often involves talking treatments (psychotherapy) such as cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps people change negative ways of thinking and behaving and antidepressant drugs, most commonly “selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors” such as fluoxetine and paroxetine.
Why Was This Study Done?
Atypical antipsychotic medications (for example, aripiprazole, olanzapine/fluoxetine combination [OFC], quetiapine, and risperidone) are also widely prescribed for the treatment of depression. These drugs, which were developed to treat mental illnesses that are characterized by a loss of contact with reality, are used as adjunctive therapy for depression. That is, they are used in addition to antidepressant drugs. Clinicians wrote nearly four million prescriptions for adjunctive treatment of depression with atypical antipsychotic medications in 2007–2008 in the US alone. However, it is not known whether the benefits of using these drugs to treat depression outweigh their side effects, which include weight gain, sedation, and akathisia (a feeling of inner restlessness resulting in an urge to move, which may or may not be accompanied by increased movement). Here, the researchers undertake a systematic review and meta-analysis of the efficacy and safety profiles of atypical antipsychotic medications used for the adjunctive treatment of depression. A systematic review uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic; a meta-analysis is a statistical approach that combines the results of several studies.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 14 short-term randomized controlled trials (duration 4–12 weeks) that compared adjunctive antipsychotic medications (aripiprazole, OFC, quetiapine, or risperidone) to placebo (dummy drug) in the treatment of depression that had not responded to antidepressant medication alone. All four drugs had statistically significant effects (effects unlikely to have happened by chance) on remission, which was most commonly defined as a score of less than eight at the study end point on the Montgomery–Asberg Depression Rating Scale. The researchers calculated the number of patients that would have to be treated for one patient to achieve remission (number needed to treat, or NNT). For OFC, the NNT was 19; for all the other drugs it was nine. All the drugs except OFC also significantly improved response rates (defined as a 50% improvement in depression rating score). However, the medications provided little or no benefit in terms of functioning and quality of life, except for risperidone, which had a small-to-moderate effect on quality of life. Finally, treatment with atypical antipsychotic medications was linked to several adverse effects, including weight gain (all four drugs) and akathisia (aripiprazole).
What Do These Findings Mean?
These results suggest that atypical antipsychotic medications for the adjunctive treatment of depression are efficacious in reducing observer-rated depressive symptoms. However, clinicians should interpret this conclusion cautiously for several reasons. First, adjunctive treatment with atypical antipsychotics provided only small-to-moderate benefits. Moreover, shortcomings in study design and data reporting methods may have inflated the apparent benefits of treatment and reduced the apparent incidence of adverse events. Second, this study provides little evidence that adjunctive treatment with atypical antipsychotics improves patients' quality of life or reduces their functional impairment. Finally, this study highlights abundant evidence of potential treatment-related harm. This evaluation of the safety and efficacy of adjunctive treatments for clinical depression provides critical insights that should help clinicians better understand the risk–benefit profiles of this approach to the treatment of major depressive disorder.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001403.
The US National Institute of Mental Health provides information on all aspects of depression (in English and Spanish); it has a webpage on mental health medications that includes information about atypical antipsychotics
The UK National Health Service Choices website also provides detailed information about depression and includes personal stories about depression
More personal stories about depression are available from healthtalkonline.org
The UK charity Mind provides information on depression and on antipsychotic drugs; Mind also includes personal stories about depression on its website
MedlinePlus provides links to other resources about depression (in English and Spanish)
Healthy Skepticism is an international nonprofit membership association that aims to improve health by reducing harm from misleading health information
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001403
PMCID: PMC3595214  PMID: 23554581
20.  The Association Between Military Sexual Trauma and Use of VA and non-VA Healthcare Services among Female Veterans with Military Service in Iraq or Afghanistan 
Journal of interpersonal violence  2016;0886260515625909.
Military sexual trauma (MST) has been linked with increased rates of mental health disorders among veterans. Few studies have addressed how military sexual trauma is related to use of VA and non-VA health care. The purpose of the current study was to (1) examine the association between MST, combat experiences and mental health outcomes (i.e., PTSD and depression) and (2) examine the association of MST and use of VA and non-VA health care services among female veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Female respondents to a survey assessing OEF/OIF veterans’ needs and health (N=185) completed measures of demographic variables, military history, combat exposure, MST, PTSD and depression symptoms, and use of VA and non-VA healthcare. Overall, 70% of the sample experienced one or more combat-related experiences and 15.7% endorsed MST during deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan. MST and combat exposure were both positively associated with PTSD and depression symptoms even after controlling for the effects of demographic and military history variables; the interaction between MST and combat exposure was not a significant predictor of PTSD or depression symptoms. MST was associated with increased use of VA mental health services in bivariate results but was not independently related to VA service utilization after accounting for PTSD and depression symptoms. MST and combat exposure are significantly related to PTSD and depression symptoms among female OEF/OIF veterans, but there was not a synergistic effect of these two types of trauma in the current study. Approximately half of women who report MST have not used VA healthcare. Continued outreach and education initiatives may be needed to ensure veterans understand the resources available to address MST related mental and physical health problems through the VA.
doi:10.1177/0886260515625909
PMCID: PMC4956588  PMID: 26802046
military sexual trauma; Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF); Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF); veterans; service use
21.  Cross-sectional prevalence survey of intimate partner violence perpetration and victimization in Canadian military personnel 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:1019.
Background
Intimate partner violence (IPV) is prevalent and is associated with a broad range of adverse consequences. In military organizations, IPV may have special implications, such as the potential of service-related mental disorders to trigger IPV. However, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) have limited data to guide their prevention and control efforts.
Methods
Self-reported IPV perpetration, victimization, and their correlates were assessed on a cross-sectional survey of a stratified random sample of currently-serving Canadian Regular Forces personnel (N = 2157). The four primary outcomes were perpetration or victimization of any physical and/or sexual or emotional and/or financial IPV over the lifespan of the current relationship.
Results
Among the 81% of the population in a current relationship, perpetration of any physical and/or sexual IPV was reported in 9%; victimization was reported in 15%. Any emotional and/or financial abuse was reported by 19% (perpetration) and 22% (victimization). Less physically injurious forms of abuse predominated. Logistic regression modelling showed that relationship dissatisfaction was independently associated with all four outcomes (OR range = 2.3 to 3.7). Probable depression was associated with all outcomes except physical and/or sexual IPV victimization (OR range = 2.5 – 2.7). PTSD symptoms were only associated with physical and/or sexual IPV perpetration (OR = 3.2, CI = 1.4 to 7.9). High-risk drinking was associated with emotional and/or financial abuse. Risk of IPV was lowest in those who had recent deployment experience; remote deployment experience (vs. never having deployed) was an independent risk factor for all IPV outcomes (OR range = 2.0 – 3.4).
Conclusions
IPV affects an important minority of military families; less severe cases predominate. Mental disorders, high-risk drinking, relationship dissatisfaction, and remote deployment were independently associated with abuse outcomes. The primary limitations of this analysis are its use of self-report data from military personnel (not their intimate partners) and the cross-sectional nature of the survey. Prevention efforts in the CAF need to target the full spectrum of IPV. Mental disorders, high-risk drinking, and relationship dissatisfaction are potential targets for risk reduction. Additional research is needed to understand the association of remote deployment with IPV.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-1019
PMCID: PMC3840728  PMID: 24165440
Spouse abuse/statistics and numerical data; Military personnel; Marital relationship; Marital conflict; Mental disorders; Stress disorder; Post-traumatic; Depression; Alcohol consumption; Cross-sectional study; Occupational health
22.  Burden of Depressive Disorders by Country, Sex, Age, and Year: Findings from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(11):e1001547.
In this paper, Ferrari and colleagues analyzed the burden of depressive disorders in GBD 2010 and identified depressive disorders as a leading cause of burden. The authors present severity proportions; burden by country, region, age, sex, and year; as well as burden of depressive disorders as a risk factor for suicide and ischemic heart disease.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Depressive disorders were a leading cause of burden in the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) 1990 and 2000 studies. Here, we analyze the burden of depressive disorders in GBD 2010 and present severity proportions, burden by country, region, age, sex, and year, as well as burden of depressive disorders as a risk factor for suicide and ischemic heart disease.
Methods and Findings
Burden was calculated for major depressive disorder (MDD) and dysthymia. A systematic review of epidemiological data was conducted. The data were pooled using a Bayesian meta-regression. Disability weights from population survey data quantified the severity of health loss from depressive disorders. These weights were used to calculate years lived with disability (YLDs) and disability adjusted life years (DALYs). Separate DALYs were estimated for suicide and ischemic heart disease attributable to depressive disorders.
Depressive disorders were the second leading cause of YLDs in 2010. MDD accounted for 8.2% (5.9%–10.8%) of global YLDs and dysthymia for 1.4% (0.9%–2.0%). Depressive disorders were a leading cause of DALYs even though no mortality was attributed to them as the underlying cause. MDD accounted for 2.5% (1.9%–3.2%) of global DALYs and dysthymia for 0.5% (0.3%–0.6%). There was more regional variation in burden for MDD than for dysthymia; with higher estimates in females, and adults of working age. Whilst burden increased by 37.5% between 1990 and 2010, this was due to population growth and ageing. MDD explained 16 million suicide DALYs and almost 4 million ischemic heart disease DALYs. This attributable burden would increase the overall burden of depressive disorders from 3.0% (2.2%–3.8%) to 3.8% (3.0%–4.7%) of global DALYs.
Conclusions
GBD 2010 identified depressive disorders as a leading cause of burden. MDD was also a contributor of burden allocated to suicide and ischemic heart disease. These findings emphasize the importance of including depressive disorders as a public-health priority and implementing cost-effective interventions to reduce its burden.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Depressive disorders are common mental disorders that occur in people of all ages across all world regions. Depression—an overwhelming feeling of sadness and hopelessness that can last for months or years—can make people feel that life is no longer worth living. People affected by depression lose interest in the activities they used to enjoy and can also be affected by physical symptoms such as disturbed sleep. Major depressive disorder (MDD, also known as clinical depression) is an episodic disorder with a chronic (long-term) outcome and increased risk of death. It involves at least one major depressive episode in which the affected individual experiences a depressed mood almost all day, every day for at least 2 weeks. Dysthymia is a milder, chronic form of depression that lasts for at least 2 years. People with dysthymia are often described as constantly unhappy. Both these subtypes of depression (and others such as that experienced in bipolar disorder) can be treated with antidepressant drugs and with talking therapies.
Why Was This Study Done?
Depressive disorders were a leading cause of disease burden in the 1990 and 2000 Global Burden of Disease (GBD) studies, collaborative scientific efforts that quantify the health loss attributable to diseases and injuries in terms of disability adjusted life years (DALYs; one DALY represents the loss of a healthy year of life). DALYs are calculated by adding together the years of life lived with a disability (YLD, a measure that includes a disability weight factor reflecting disease severity) and the years of life lost because of disorder-specific premature death. The GBD initiative aims to provide data that can be used to improve public-health policy. Thus, knowing that depressive disorders are a leading cause of disease burden worldwide has helped to prioritize depressive disorders in global public-health agendas. Here, the researchers analyze the burden of MDD and dysthymia in GBD 2010 by country, region, age, and sex, and calculate the burden of suicide and ischemic heart disease attributable to depressive disorders (depression is a risk factor for suicide and ischemic heart disease). GBD 2010 is broader in scope than previous GBD studies and quantifies the direct burden of 291 diseases and injuries and the burden attributable to 67 risk factors across 187 countries.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers collected data on the prevalence, incidence, remission rates, and duration of MDD and dysthymia and on the excess deaths caused by these disorders from published articles. They pooled these data using a statistical method called Bayesian meta-regression and calculated YLDs for MDD and dysthymia using disability weights collected in population surveys. MDD accounted for 8.2% of global YLDs in 2010, making it the second leading cause of YLDs. Dysthymia accounted for 1.4% of global YLDs. MDD and dysthymia were also leading causes of DALYs, accounting for 2.5% and 0.5% of global DALYs, respectively. The regional variation in the burden was greater for MDD than for dysthymia, the burden of depressive disorders was higher in women than men, the largest proportion of YLDs from depressive disorders occurred among adults of working age, and the global burden of depressive disorders increased by 37.5% between 1990 and 2010 because of population growth and ageing. Finally, MDD explained an additional 16 million DALYs and 4 million DALYs when it was considered as a risk factor for suicide and ischemic heart disease, respectively. This “attributable” burden increased the overall burden of depressive disorders to 3.8% of global DALYs.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings update and extend the information available from GBD 1990 and 2000 on the global burden of depressive disorders. They confirm that depressive disorders are a leading direct cause of the global disease burden and show that MDD also contributes to the burden allocated to suicide and ischemic heart disease. The estimates of the global burden of depressive disorders reported in GBD 2010 are likely to be more accurate than those in previous GBD studies but are limited by factors such as the sparseness of data on depressive disorders from developing countries and the validity of the disability weights used to calculate YLDs. Even so, these findings reinforce the importance of treating depressive disorders as a public-health priority and of implementing cost-effective interventions to reduce their ubiquitous burden.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001547.
The US National Institute of Mental Health provides information on all aspects of depression
The UK National Health Service Choices website also provides detailed information about depression and includes personal stories about depression
More personal stories about depression are available from healthtalkonline.org
MedlinePlus provides links to other resources about depression (in English and Spanish)
The World Health Organization provides information on depression and on the global burden of disease (in several languages)
Information about the Global Burden of Disease initiative is available
beyondblue provides many resources on depression
The Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research provides information on epidemiology and the global burden of disease specifically for mental disorders
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001547
PMCID: PMC3818162  PMID: 24223526
23.  Association of FKBP51 with Priming of Autophagy Pathways and Mediation of Antidepressant Treatment Response: Evidence in Cells, Mice, and Humans 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(11):e1001755.
Theo Rein and colleagues examine the role of FKBP51 in the actions of antidepressants, with a particular focus on pathways of autophagy.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
FK506 binding protein 51 (FKBP51) is an Hsp90 co-chaperone and regulator of the glucocorticoid receptor, and consequently of stress physiology. Clinical studies suggest a genetic link between FKBP51 and antidepressant response in mood disorders; however, the underlying mechanisms remain elusive. The objective of this study was to elucidate the role of FKBP51 in the actions of antidepressants, with a particular focus on pathways of autophagy.
Methods and Findings
Established cell lines, primary neural cells, human blood cells of healthy individuals and patients with depression, and mice were treated with antidepressants. Mice were tested for several neuroendocrine and behavioral parameters. Protein interactions and autophagic pathway activity were mainly evaluated by co-immunoprecipitation and Western blots. We first show that the effects of acute antidepressant treatment on behavior are abolished in FKBP51 knockout (51KO) mice. Autophagic markers, such as the autophagy initiator Beclin1, were increased following acute antidepressant treatment in brains from wild-type, but not 51KO, animals. FKBP51 binds to Beclin1, changes decisive protein interactions and phosphorylation of Beclin1, and triggers autophagic pathways. Antidepressants and FKBP51 exhibited synergistic effects on these pathways. Using chronic social defeat as a depression-relevant stress model in combination with chronic paroxetine (PAR) treatment revealed that the stress response, as well as the effects of antidepressants on behavior and autophagic markers, depends on FKBP51. In human blood cells of healthy individuals, FKBP51 levels correlated with the potential of antidepressants to induce autophagic pathways.
Importantly, the clinical antidepressant response of patients with depression (n = 51) could be predicted by the antidepressant response of autophagic markers in patient-derived peripheral blood lymphocytes cultivated and treated ex vivo (Beclin1/amitriptyline: r = 0.572, p = 0.003; Beclin1/PAR: r = 0.569, p = 0.004; Beclin1/fluoxetine: r = 0.454, p = 0.026; pAkt/amitriptyline: r = −0.416, p = 0.006; pAkt/PAR: r = −0.355, p = 0.021; LC3B-II/PAR: r = 0.453, p = 0.02), as well as by the lymphocytic expression levels of FKBP51 (r = 0.631, p<0.0001), pAkt (r = −0.515, p = 0.003), and Beclin1 (r = 0.521, p = 0.002) at admission. Limitations of the study include the use of male mice only and the relatively low number of patients for protein analyses.
Conclusions
To our knowledge, these findings provide the first evidence for the molecular mechanism of FKBP51 in priming autophagic pathways; this process is linked to the potency of at least some antidepressants. These newly discovered functions of FKBP51 also provide novel predictive markers for treatment outcome, consistent with physiological and potential clinical relevance.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Everyone feels miserable sometimes, but about one in six people will have an episode of clinical depression during their lifetime. For people who are clinically depressed, overwhelming feelings of sadness, anxiety, and hopelessness can last for months or years. Affected individuals lose interest in activities they used to enjoy, they sometimes have physical symptoms such as disturbed sleep, and they may contemplate suicide. Clinicians diagnose depression and determine its severity using questionnaires (“depression rating scales”) that explore the patient's feelings and symptoms. Mild depression is often treated with talking therapies (psychotherapy) such as cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps people change negative ways of thinking. For more severe depression, patients are also usually prescribed an antidepressant, most commonly a “selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor” such as paroxetine or a tricyclic antidepressant such as amitriptyline.
Why Was This Study Done?
Unfortunately, antidepressants don't work for more than half of patients. Moreover, because it is unclear how antidepressants work, it is not possible to predict which patients will respond to which antidepressants. Thus, matching patient to drug can be a lengthy, sometimes unsuccessful, process. Here, the researchers use several approaches to test the hypothesis that a protein called FK506 binding protein 51 (FKBP51) is involved in the actions of antidepressants and to investigate whether the ability of both FKBP51 and antidepressants to regulate a process called autophagy underlies the impact of FKBP51 on antidepressant responses. FKBP51 is a regulator of stress physiology, which is connected to the development and treatment of depression; genetic studies have suggested a link between FKBP51 expression and the antidepressant response rate. Some antidepressants are known to alter the initial steps in the autophagy pathway, a multistep process that maintains the integrity of cells through regulated degradation and recycling of cellular components; however, the potential synergistic role of FKBP51 and antidepressants in regulating pathways of autophagy are unknown.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers first treated wild-type mice and FKBP51 knockout mice (genetically altered animals that make no FKBP51) with an acute dose of antidepressant and compared their behavior in a forced swim test, an assay that measures the action of antidepressants in mice by determining how long the mice struggle or float inertly when placed in deep water. As expected, acute antidepressant treatment increased the time that wild-type mice spent struggling. However, this effect of antidepressant treatment was greatly attenuated in the FKBP51 knockout mice. Moreover, the levels of several autophagy markers increased in the brains of wild-type mice following antidepressant treatment but not in the brains of FKBP51 knockout mice. Next, using “chronic social defeat stress” to model the “endophenotype” of depression (a combination of physiological, hormonal, and behavioral traits seen in people with depression) in mice, the researchers showed that the stress response and the effect of chronic antidepressants on behavior and on autophagic markers all depend on FKBP51. Using cell-based assays, the researchers showed that antidepressants and FKBP51 had synergistic (interactive) effects on the autophagic pathway and that, in human blood cells, FKBP51 levels correlated with the potential of antidepressants to induce autophagic pathways. Finally, the researchers report that the clinical response to antidepressant treatment in 51 patients with depression was associated with the response of autophagic markers in their peripheral blood lymphocytes to antidepressant treatment in test tubes, and that the expression levels of FKBP51 and autophagy markers in patient lymphocytes at admission were associated with subsequent clinical responses to antidepressants.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that the protein FKBP51 is required for the effects of both acute and chronic treatment with some antidepressants on behavior and on autophagic pathways in mice. These findings also reveal an association between antidepressant treatment responses in patients and both the expression levels of FKBP51 and autophagy markers in lymphocytes at admission and the response of autophagic markers to antidepressant treatment in patient lymphocytes. The accuracy of these findings is limited by the small number of clinical samples available for analysis, by the use of only male mice in the animal experiments, and by the inability of animal models of depression to fully replicate the human condition. Nevertheless, these findings identify the early stages of autophagy as potential targets for the development of new antidepressants and identify several potential biomarkers that might, after further clinical validation, help clinicians predict antidepressant efficacy in patients with depression.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001755.
The US National Institute of Mental Health provides information on all aspects of depression (in English and Spanish), including information on antidepressants
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides detailed information about depression and about antidepressants; it also provides personal stories about depression
The UK charity Mind provides information on depression, including some personal stories about depression
More personal stories about depression are available from healthtalk.org
MedlinePlus provides links to other resources about depression
Wikipedia has a page on autophagy (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
The patients included in this study were all enrolled in the Munich Antidepressant Response Signature project, which aims to identify gene variants and biomarkers that predict treatment outcomes with antidepressants
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001755
PMCID: PMC4227651  PMID: 25386878
24.  Utilization of DXA Bone Mineral Densitometry in Ontario 
Executive Summary
Issue
Systematic reviews and analyses of administrative data were performed to determine the appropriate use of bone mineral density (BMD) assessments using dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA), and the associated trends in wrist and hip fractures in Ontario.
Background
Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry Bone Mineral Density Assessment
Dual energy x-ray absorptiometry bone densitometers measure bone density based on differential absorption of 2 x-ray beams by bone and soft tissues. It is the gold standard for detecting and diagnosing osteoporosis, a systemic disease characterized by low bone density and altered bone structure, resulting in low bone strength and increased risk of fractures. The test is fast (approximately 10 minutes) and accurate (exceeds 90% at the hip), with low radiation (1/3 to 1/5 of that from a chest x-ray). DXA densitometers are licensed as Class 3 medical devices in Canada. The World Health Organization has established criteria for osteoporosis and osteopenia based on DXA BMD measurements: osteoporosis is defined as a BMD that is >2.5 standard deviations below the mean BMD for normal young adults (i.e. T-score <–2.5), while osteopenia is defined as BMD that is more than 1 standard deviation but less than 2.5 standard deviation below the mean for normal young adults (i.e. T-score< –1 & ≥–2.5). DXA densitometry is presently an insured health service in Ontario.
Clinical Need
 
Burden of Disease
The Canadian Multicenter Osteoporosis Study (CaMos) found that 16% of Canadian women and 6.6% of Canadian men have osteoporosis based on the WHO criteria, with prevalence increasing with age. Osteopenia was found in 49.6% of Canadian women and 39% of Canadian men. In Ontario, it is estimated that nearly 530,000 Ontarians have some degrees of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis-related fragility fractures occur most often in the wrist, femur and pelvis. These fractures, particularly those in the hip, are associated with increased mortality, and decreased functional capacity and quality of life. A Canadian study showed that at 1 year after a hip fracture, the mortality rate was 20%. Another 20% required institutional care, 40% were unable to walk independently, and there was lower health-related quality of life due to attributes such as pain, decreased mobility and decreased ability to self-care. The cost of osteoporosis and osteoporotic fractures in Canada was estimated to be $1.3 billion in 1993.
Guidelines for Bone Mineral Density Testing
With 2 exceptions, almost all guidelines address only women. None of the guidelines recommend blanket population-based BMD testing. Instead, all guidelines recommend BMD testing in people at risk of osteoporosis, predominantly women aged 65 years or older. For women under 65 years of age, BMD testing is recommended only if one major or two minor risk factors for osteoporosis exist. Osteoporosis Canada did not restrict its recommendations to women, and thus their guidelines apply to both sexes. Major risk factors are age greater than or equal to 65 years, a history of previous fractures, family history (especially parental history) of fracture, and medication or disease conditions that affect bone metabolism (such as long-term glucocorticoid therapy). Minor risk factors include low body mass index, low calcium intake, alcohol consumption, and smoking.
Current Funding for Bone Mineral Density Testing
The Ontario Health Insurance Program (OHIP) Schedule presently reimburses DXA BMD at the hip and spine. Measurements at both sites are required if feasible. Patients at low risk of accelerated bone loss are limited to one BMD test within any 24-month period, but there are no restrictions on people at high risk. The total fee including the professional and technical components for a test involving 2 or more sites is $106.00 (Cdn).
Method of Review
This review consisted of 2 parts. The first part was an analysis of Ontario administrative data relating to DXA BMD, wrist and hip fractures, and use of antiresorptive drugs in people aged 65 years and older. The Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences extracted data from the OHIP claims database, the Canadian Institute for Health Information hospital discharge abstract database, the National Ambulatory Care Reporting System, and the Ontario Drug Benefit database using OHIP and ICD-10 codes. The data was analyzed to examine the trends in DXA BMD use from 1992 to 2005, and to identify areas requiring improvement.
The second part included systematic reviews and analyses of evidence relating to issues identified in the analyses of utilization data. Altogether, 8 reviews and qualitative syntheses were performed, consisting of 28 published systematic reviews and/or meta-analyses, 34 randomized controlled trials, and 63 observational studies.
Findings of Utilization Analysis
Analysis of administrative data showed a 10-fold increase in the number of BMD tests in Ontario between 1993 and 2005.
OHIP claims for BMD tests are presently increasing at a rate of 6 to 7% per year. Approximately 500,000 tests were performed in 2005/06 with an age-adjusted rate of 8,600 tests per 100,000 population.
Women accounted for 90 % of all BMD tests performed in the province.
In 2005/06, there was a 2-fold variation in the rate of DXA BMD tests across local integrated health networks, but a 10-fold variation between the county with the highest rate (Toronto) and that with the lowest rate (Kenora). The analysis also showed that:
With the increased use of BMD, there was a concomitant increase in the use of antiresorptive drugs (as shown in people 65 years and older) and a decrease in the rate of hip fractures in people age 50 years and older.
Repeat BMD made up approximately 41% of all tests. Most of the people (>90%) who had annual BMD tests in a 2-year or 3-year period were coded as being at high risk for osteoporosis.
18% (20,865) of the people who had a repeat BMD within a 24-month period and 34% (98,058) of the people who had one BMD test in a 3-year period were under 65 years, had no fracture in the year, and coded as low-risk.
Only 19% of people age greater than 65 years underwent BMD testing and 41% received osteoporosis treatment during the year following a fracture.
Men accounted for 24% of all hip fractures and 21 % of all wrist fractures, but only 10% of BMD tests. The rates of BMD tests and treatment in men after a fracture were only half of those in women.
In both men and women, the rate of hip and wrist fractures mainly increased after age 65 with the sharpest increase occurring after age 80 years.
Findings of Systematic Review and Analysis
Serial Bone Mineral Density Testing for People Not Receiving Osteoporosis Treatment
A systematic review showed that the mean rate of bone loss in people not receiving osteoporosis treatment (including postmenopausal women) is generally less than 1% per year. Higher rates of bone loss were reported for people with disease conditions or on medications that affect bone metabolism. In order to be considered a genuine biological change, the change in BMD between serial measurements must exceed the least significant change (variability) of the testing, ranging from 2.77% to 8% for precisions ranging from 1% to 3% respectively. Progression in BMD was analyzed, using different rates of baseline BMD values, rates of bone loss, precision, and BMD value for initiating treatment. The analyses showed that serial BMD measurements every 24 months (as per OHIP policy for low-risk individuals) is not necessary for people with no major risk factors for osteoporosis, provided that the baseline BMD is normal (T-score ≥ –1), and the rate of bone loss is less than or equal to 1% per year. The analyses showed that for someone with a normal baseline BMD and a rate of bone loss of less than 1% per year, the change in BMD is not likely to exceed least significant change (even for a 1% precision) in less than 3 years after the baseline test, and is not likely to drop to a BMD level that requires initiation of treatment in less than 16 years after the baseline test.
Serial Bone Mineral Density Testing in People Receiving Osteoporosis Therapy
Seven published meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and 2 recent RCTs on BMD monitoring during osteoporosis therapy showed that although higher increases in BMD were generally associated with reduced risk of fracture, the change in BMD only explained a small percentage of the fracture risk reduction.
Studies showed that some people with small or no increase in BMD during treatment experienced significant fracture risk reduction, indicating that other factors such as improved bone microarchitecture might have contributed to fracture risk reduction.
There is conflicting evidence relating to the role of BMD testing in improving patient compliance with osteoporosis therapy.
Even though BMD may not be a perfect surrogate for reduction in fracture risk when monitoring responses to osteoporosis therapy, experts advised that it is still the only reliable test available for this purpose.
A systematic review conducted by the Medical Advisory Secretariat showed that the magnitude of increases in BMD during osteoporosis drug therapy varied among medications. Although most of the studies yielded mean percentage increases in BMD from baseline that did not exceed the least significant change for a 2% precision after 1 year of treatment, there were some exceptions.
Bone Mineral Density Testing and Treatment After a Fragility Fracture
A review of 3 published pooled analyses of observational studies and 12 prospective population-based observational studies showed that the presence of any prevalent fracture increases the relative risk for future fractures by approximately 2-fold or more. A review of 10 systematic reviews of RCTs and 3 additional RCTs showed that therapy with antiresorptive drugs significantly reduced the risk of vertebral fractures by 40 to 50% in postmenopausal osteoporotic women and osteoporotic men, and 2 antiresorptive drugs also reduced the risk of nonvertebral fractures by 30 to 50%. Evidence from observational studies in Canada and other jurisdictions suggests that patients who had undergone BMD measurements, particularly if a diagnosis of osteoporosis is made, were more likely to be given pharmacologic bone-sparing therapy. Despite these findings, the rate of BMD investigation and osteoporosis treatment after a fracture remained low (<20%) in Ontario as well as in other jurisdictions.
Bone Mineral Density Testing in Men
There are presently no specific Canadian guidelines for BMD screening in men. A review of the literature suggests that risk factors for fracture and the rate of vertebral deformity are similar for men and women, but the mortality rate after a hip fracture is higher in men compared with women. Two bisphosphonates had been shown to reduce the risk of vertebral and hip fractures in men. However, BMD testing and osteoporosis treatment were proportionately low in Ontario men in general, and particularly after a fracture, even though men accounted for 25% of the hip and wrist fractures. The Ontario data also showed that the rates of wrist fracture and hip fracture in men rose sharply in the 75- to 80-year age group.
Ontario-Based Economic Analysis
The economic analysis focused on analyzing the economic impact of decreasing future hip fractures by increasing the rate of BMD testing in men and women age greater than or equal to 65 years following a hip or wrist fracture. A decision analysis showed the above strategy, especially when enhanced by improved reporting of BMD tests, to be cost-effective, resulting in a cost-effectiveness ratio ranging from $2,285 (Cdn) per fracture avoided (worst-case scenario) to $1,981 (Cdn) per fracture avoided (best-case scenario). A budget impact analysis estimated that shifting utilization of BMD testing from the low risk population to high risk populations within Ontario would result in a saving of $0.85 million to $1.5 million (Cdn) to the health system. The potential net saving was estimated at $1.2 million to $5 million (Cdn) when the downstream cost-avoidance due to prevention of future hip fractures was factored into the analysis.
Other Factors for Consideration
There is a lack of standardization for BMD testing in Ontario. Two different standards are presently being used and experts suggest that variability in results from different facilities may lead to unnecessary testing. There is also no requirement for standardized equipment, procedure or reporting format. The current reimbursement policy for BMD testing encourages serial testing in people at low risk of accelerated bone loss. This review showed that biannual testing is not necessary for all cases. The lack of a database to collect clinical data on BMD testing makes it difficult to evaluate the clinical profiles of patients tested and outcomes of the BMD tests. There are ministry initiatives in progress under the Osteoporosis Program to address the development of a mandatory standardized requisition form for BMD tests to facilitate data collection and clinical decision-making. Work is also underway for developing guidelines for BMD testing in men and in perimenopausal women.
Conclusion
Increased use of BMD in Ontario since 1996 appears to be associated with increased use of antiresorptive medication and a decrease in hip and wrist fractures.
Data suggest that as many as 20% (98,000) of the DXA BMD tests in Ontario in 2005/06 were performed in people aged less than 65 years, with no fracture in the current year, and coded as being at low risk for accelerated bone loss; this is not consistent with current guidelines. Even though some of these people might have been incorrectly coded as low-risk, the number of tests in people truly at low risk could still be substantial.
Approximately 4% (21,000) of the DXA BMD tests in 2005/06 were repeat BMDs in low-risk individuals within a 24-month period. Even though this is in compliance with current OHIP reimbursement policies, evidence showed that biannual serial BMD testing is not necessary in individuals without major risk factors for fractures, provided that the baseline BMD is normal (T-score < –1). In this population, BMD measurements may be repeated in 3 to 5 years after the baseline test to establish the rate of bone loss, and further serial BMD tests may not be necessary for another 7 to 10 years if the rate of bone loss is no more than 1% per year. Precision of the test needs to be considered when interpreting serial BMD results.
Although changes in BMD may not be the perfect surrogate for reduction in fracture risk as a measure of response to osteoporosis treatment, experts advised that it is presently the only reliable test for monitoring response to treatment and to help motivate patients to continue treatment. Patients should not discontinue treatment if there is no increase in BMD after the first year of treatment. Lack of response or bone loss during treatment should prompt the physician to examine whether the patient is taking the medication appropriately.
Men and women who have had a fragility fracture at the hip, spine, wrist or shoulder are at increased risk of having a future fracture, but this population is presently under investigated and under treated. Additional efforts have to be made to communicate to physicians (particularly orthopaedic surgeons and family physicians) and the public about the need for a BMD test after fracture, and for initiating treatment if low BMD is found.
Men had a disproportionately low rate of BMD tests and osteoporosis treatment, especially after a fracture. Evidence and fracture data showed that the risk of hip and wrist fractures in men rises sharply at age 70 years.
Some counties had BMD utilization rates that were only 10% of that of the county with the highest utilization. The reasons for low utilization need to be explored and addressed.
Initiatives such as aligning reimbursement policy with current guidelines, developing specific guidelines for BMD testing in men and perimenopausal women, improving BMD reports to assist in clinical decision making, developing a registry to track BMD tests, improving access to BMD tests in remote/rural counties, establishing mechanisms to alert family physicians of fractures, and educating physicians and the public, will improve the appropriate utilization of BMD tests, and further decrease the rate of fractures in Ontario. Some of these initiatives such as developing guidelines for perimenopausal women and men, and developing a standardized requisition form for BMD testing, are currently in progress under the Ontario Osteoporosis Strategy.
PMCID: PMC3379167  PMID: 23074491
25.  Subjective and objective cognitive function among older adults with a history of traumatic brain injury: A population-based cohort study 
PLoS Medicine  2017;14(3):e1002246.
Background
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is extremely common across the lifespan and is an established risk factor for dementia. The cognitive profile of the large and growing population of older adults with prior TBI who do not have a diagnosis of dementia, however, has not been well described. Our aim was to describe the cognitive profile associated with prior TBI exposure among community-dwelling older adults without dementia—an understudied but potentially vulnerable population.
Methods and findings
In this population-based cohort study, we studied 984 community-dwelling older adults (age 51 y and older and their spouses) without dementia who had been randomly selected from respondents to the 2014 wave of the Health and Retirement Study to participate in a comprehensive TBI survey and who either reported no prior TBI (n = 737) or prior symptomatic TBI resulting in treatment in a hospital (n = 247). Mean time since first TBI was 38 ± 19 y. Outcomes assessed included measures of global cognitive function, verbal episodic memory, semantic fluency, and calculation as well as a measure of subjective memory (“How would you rate your memory at the present time?”). We compared outcomes between the two TBI groups using regression models adjusting for demographics, medical comorbidities, and depression. Sensitivity analyses were performed stratified by TBI severity (no TBI, TBI without loss of consciousness [LOC], and TBI with LOC). Respondents with TBI were younger (mean age 64 ± 10 y versus 68 ± 11 y), were less likely to be female, and had higher prevalence of medical comorbidities and depression than respondents without TBI. Respondents with TBI did not perform significantly differently from respondents without TBI on any measure of objective cognitive function in either raw or adjusted models (fully adjusted: global cognitive function score 15.4 versus 15.2, p = 0.68; verbal episodic memory score 4.4 versus 4.3, p = 0.79; semantic fluency score 15.7 versus 14.0, p = 0.21; calculation impairment 22% versus 26%, risk ratio [RR] [95% CI] = 0.86 [0.67–1.11], p = 0.24). Sensitivity analyses stratified by TBI severity produced similar results. TBI was associated with significantly increased risk for subjective memory impairment in models adjusted for demographics and medical comorbidities (29% versus 24%; RR [95% CI]: 1.26 [1.02–1.57], p = 0.036). After further adjustment for active depression, however, risk for subjective memory impairment was no longer significant (RR [95% CI]: 1.18 [0.95–1.47], p = 0.13). Sensitivity analyses revealed that risk of subjective memory impairment was increased only among respondents with TBI with LOC and not among those with TBI without LOC. Furthermore, the risk of subjective memory impairment was significantly greater among those with TBI with LOC versus those without TBI even after adjustment for depression (RR [95% CI]: partially adjusted, 1.38 [1.09–1.74], p = 0.008; fully adjusted, 1.28 [1.01–1.61], p = 0.039).
Conclusions
In this population-based study of community-dwelling older adults without dementia, those with prior TBI with LOC were more likely to report subjective memory impairment compared to those without TBI even after adjustment for demographics, medical comorbidities, and active depression. Lack of greater objective cognitive impairment among those with versus without TBI may be due to poor sensitivity of the cognitive battery or survival bias, or may suggest that post-TBI cognitive impairment primarily affects executive function and processing speed, which were not rigorously assessed in this study. Our findings show that among community-dwelling non-demented older adults, history of TBI is common but may not preferentially impact cognitive domains of episodic memory, attention, working memory, verbal semantic fluency, or calculation.
In a population-based cohort study, Rachel Gardner and colleagues examine the associations between subjective and objective cognitive function and history of traumatic brain injury in older adults.
Author summary
Why was this study done?
Prior studies have found that a history of traumatic brain injury (TBI) is associated with an increased risk of developing dementia later in life. It is unclear, however, whether a history of TBI has any measurable impact on cognitive function for the large and growing population of older adults without dementia who are living in the community.
Our aim was to find out if a history of TBI is associated with measurable cognitive impairment among older adults without dementia who are living in communities across the United States.
What did the researchers do and find?
We used data collected in a large nationally representative survey study of older adults (age 51 y and older and their spouses) called the Health and Retirement Study.
We studied 247 older adults with a history of TBI and 737 older adults with no history of TBI. We compared them on measures of subjective memory impairment (self-rated memory problems) and objective cognitive function (neuropsychological tests of attention, working memory, short-term memory, calculation, and verbal category fluency).
We found no differences on any measures of objective cognitive function between older adults with and without a history of TBI. We did find that older adults with a history of TBI that involved loss of consciousness (LOC), but not those with a history of TBI without LOC, were 28% more likely to report subjective memory impairment compared to those with no history of TBI—even after accounting for differences in demographics, medical conditions, and depression.
What do these findings mean?
Among community-dwelling older adults across the United States, a history of TBI is not associated with any measurable impairment in the cognitive domains of attention, working memory, short-term memory, calculation, and verbal category fluency—cognitive domains that are often affected very early in Alzheimer disease. This study did not, however, rigorously evaluate the cognitive domains of processing speed and executive function—cognitive domains that have been shown to be impaired among older military veterans with a history of TBI.
Further research is needed to determine the underlying cause of the higher rate of subjective memory impairment among older adults with TBI with LOC.
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1002246
PMCID: PMC5340352  PMID: 28267747

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