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1.  Development, reliability and factor analysis of a self-administered questionnaire which originates from the World Health Organization's Composite International Diagnostic Interview – Short Form (CIDI-SF) for assessing mental disorders 
The Composite International Diagnostic Interview – Short Form consists of short form scales for evaluating psychiatric disorders. Also for this version training of the interviewer is required. Moreover, the confidentiality could be not adequately protected.
This study focuses on the preliminary validation of a brief self-completed questionnaire which originates from the CIDI-SF.
Sampling and Methods
A preliminary version was assessed for content and face validity. An intermediate version was evaluated for test-retest reliability. The final version of the questionnaire was evaluated for factor exploratory analysis, and internal consistency.
After the modifications by the focus groups, the questionnaire included 29 initial probe questions and 56 secondary questions. The test retest reliability weighted Kappas were acceptable to excellent for the vast majority of questions. Factor analysis revealed six factors explaining 53.6% of total variance. Cronbach's alpha was 0.89 for the questionnaire and 0.89, 0.67, 0.71, 0.71, 0.49, and 0.67, for the six factors respectively.
The questionnaire has satisfactory reliability, and internal consistency, and might be efficient for using in community research and clinical practice. In the future, the questionnaire could be further validated (i.e., concurrent validity, discriminant validity).
PMCID: PMC2329624  PMID: 18402667
2.  A new self-report questionnaire called "ABC" to evaluate in a clinical practice the aid perceived from services by relatives, needs and family burden of severe mental illness 
To describe: a) a self-report questionnaire of 34 item, developed by a Family Association of Psychiatric Patients in collaboration with two psychiatrists to evaluate by key-relative in a clinical practice the perceived quality of mental health services, the needs and family burden; b) the methodology of validation.
It has been studied (a) the Face Validity by two focus groups of 10 relatives for each group, (b) the concurrent validity of family burden items comparing the ABC with QPF, a widely used questionnaire, in 6 Italian mental health centres on a sample of key-relatives, (c) the discriminant validity comparing three different samples of key-relatives of patients with psychiatric illness, Alzheimer or cancer. The internal consistency of items for assessing relatives' opinions on the quality of care has been evaluated by Chronbach' s α. The test-retest has been evaluated on a sample of 20 key-relatives.
The results indicate a fairly good performance of the questionnaire in this preliminary but almost complete phase of validation. The time to fill in it has been estimated in a 7 minutes average.
It is possible by this self-report questionnaire to evaluate in a clinical routine setting and in a very short time three important problems for relatives and professionals: opinions and needs of relatives, and objective and subjective family burden of severe mental illness.
PMCID: PMC2031885  PMID: 17877813
3.  Combining an SSRI with an anticonvulsant in depressed patients with dysphoric mood: an open study 
Several patients with unipolar depression present with prominent dysphoric mood. We aimed at examining the effectiveness of the combination of an SSRI with an anticonvulsant in such patients.
Thirty-five newly admitted outpatients with substantial anger, irritability, aggressiveness or hostility who were diagnosed a DSM-IV unipolar depressive disorder were rated on the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS), the Clinical Global Improvement (CGI) scale, and a scale for the rapid dimensional assessment (SVARAD), were prescribed an SSRI and an anticonvulsant (usually valproate), and were followed up for 12 weeks. Repeated measures analysis of variance was used to test for within-subject changes in scale scores over time.
Thirty-two and 23 patients attended the follow-up visits 4 and 12 weeks later, respectively. Significant decreases (p < .001) were observed in HDRS total score, HDRS and SVARAD anxiety factors, HDRS and SVARAD core depression factors, and SVARAD anger/irritability factor. Adjusting for age or gender did not change the results. Most patients (82%) were rated as improved or much improved on the CGI.
Although our study has several limitations, we observed a remarkable improvement in most unipolar depressed outpatients with dysphoric mood treated with an SSRI and an anticonvulsant. The effectiveness of anticonvulsants might be linked to their action on symptoms of aggression and behavioural activation.
PMCID: PMC1797174  PMID: 17288584
4.  Effectiveness of cognitive-behavioural group therapy for inpatients 
To measure the effectiveness of manualized cognitive-behavioural group therapy (CBGT) when it is integrated into the routine care on a general hospital psychiatric inpatient unit.
A pre-post design is used to measure the "process", "results" and "outcome" indicators in the year before CBGT was introduced (2001) in contrast to the subsequent two years (2002, 2003). Readmission to hospital, compulsory admissions, ward atmosphere (i.e. the use of physical restraint, episodes of violent behaviour) and patients' satisfaction were assessed.
90% of all inpatients in the years 2002–2003 attended the group therapy. In the years after CBGT was introduced the rate of readmission declined from 38% to 27% and 24% (p < .04), compulsory admissions were reduced from 17% to 4% (p < .03), the ward atmosphere and patients' satisfaction were both excellent (p < .01).
It is probable that the improvements observed were attributable to the group therapy. These results and those observed in an earlier study are promising and further investigations of this approach are indicated.
PMCID: PMC1552055  PMID: 16859548
5.  Outcome assessment of the VADO approach in psychiatric rehabilitation: a partially randomised multicentric trial 
Recent studies on representative samples of psychiatric services have shown that low proportions of cases received effective rehabilitation interventions. The following are likely to be the most important causes: the scarcity of mental health workers trained in social and work skills strategies and the absence of a structured framework to formulate rehabilitation practices.
The aim of this study was to assess if a specific structured planning and evaluation manual, called VADO (Valutazione delle Abilità e Definizione degli Obiettivi – in english: Skills Assessment and Definition of Goals), is more effective than routine interventions in reducing disability in patients with schizophrenia.
Each of 10 mental health services were invited to recruit 10 patients with a schizophrenic disorder. Altogether 98 patients were recruited. Of these, 62 patients were randomly allocated to the intervention/experimental or a control group. The remaining group of 36 patients was not randomised and it was considered as a parallel effectiveness study. Assessment measures at the beginning of the study and at the one-year follow-up included the FPS scale of social functioning and the BPRS 4.0. Between group (VADO vs. Routine) and time effects were examined with ANOVA, Chi-square or Fisher exact. Clinical "improvement" was defined as an increase of at least ten points on the FPS or a decrease of at least 20% on BPRS scores.
31 of the 62 randomized patients received the experimental interventions, while 31 followed the routine ones. At follow-up, the experimental group showed statistically and clinically greater improvements in psychopathology and social functioning.
Better outcomes of both social functioning and symptom severity were observed in non randomised patients (parallel effectiveness study).
The results suggest that setting personalised and measurable objectives, as recommended by the manual, can improve the outcome of rehabilitation of severe mental disorders. Better outcomes in the parallel effectiveness study could be attributed to the greater confidence and enthusiasm of staff in centres where the VADO approach originated.
PMCID: PMC1501010  PMID: 16584543

Results 1-5 (5)