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1.  Did female prisoners with mental disorders receive psychiatric treatment before imprisonment? 
BMC Psychiatry  2015;15:5.
Throughout the world, high prevalence rates of mental disorders have been found in prison populations, especially in females. It has been suggested that these populations do not access psychiatric treatment. The aim of this study was to establish rates of psychiatric in- and outpatient treatments prior to imprisonment in female prisoners and to explore reasons for discontinuation of such treatments.
150 consecutively admitted female prisoners were interviewed in Berlin, Germany. Socio-demographic characteristics, mental disorders, and previous psychiatric in- and outpatient treatments were assessed by trained researchers. Open questions were used to explore reasons for ending previous psychiatric treatment.
A vast majority of 99 prisoners (66%; 95% CI: 58–73) of the total sample reported that they had previously been in psychiatric treatment, 80 (53%; 95 CI: 45–61) in inpatient treatment, 62 (41%; 95 CI: 34–49) in outpatient treatment and 42 (29%; 21–39) in both in- and outpatient treatments. All prisoners with psychosis and 72% of the ones with any lifetime mental health disorder had been in previous treatment. The number of inpatient treatments and imprisonments were positively correlated (rho = 0.27; p < 0.01). Inpatient treatment was described as successfully completed by 56% (N = 41) of those having given reasons for ending such treatment, whilst various reasons were reported for prematurely ending outpatient treatments.
The data do not support the notion of a general ‘mental health treatment gap’ in female prisoners. Although inpatient care is often successfully completed, repeated inpatient treatments are not linked with fewer imprisonments. Improved transition from inpatient to outpatient treatment and services that engage female prisoners to sustained outpatient treatments are needed.
PMCID: PMC4307137  PMID: 25608668
Prisoners; Mental health; Psychiatric hospitalized care; Outpatient mental health treatment
2.  Implementing family involvement in the treatment of patients with psychosis: a systematic review of facilitating and hindering factors 
BMJ Open  2014;4(10):e006108.
To synthesise the evidence on implementing family involvement in the treatment of patients with psychosis with a focus on barriers, problems and facilitating factors.
Systematic review of studies evaluating the involvement of families in tripartite communication between health professionals, ‘families’ (or other unpaid carers) and adult patients, in a single-family context. A theoretical thematic analysis approach and thematic synthesis were used.
Data sources
A systematic electronic search was carried out in seven databases, using database-specific search strategies and controlled vocabulary. A secondary manual search of grey literature was performed as well as using forwards and backwards snowballing techniques.
A total of 43 studies were included. The majority featured qualitative data (n=42), focused solely on staff perspectives (n=32) and were carried out in the UK (n=23). Facilitating the training and ongoing supervision needs of staff are necessary but not sufficient conditions for a consistent involvement of families. Organisational cultures and paradigms can work to limit family involvement, and effective implementation appears to operate via a whole team coordinated effort at every level of the organisation, supported by strong leadership. Reservations about family involvement regarding power relations, fear of negative outcomes and the need for an exclusive patient–professional relationship may be explored and addressed through mutually trusting relationships.
Implementing family involvement carries additional challenges beyond those generally associated with translating research to practice. Implementation may require a cultural and organisational shift towards working with families. Family work can only be implemented if this is considered a shared goal of all members of a clinical team and/or mental health service, including the leaders of the organisation. This may imply a change in the ethos and practices of clinical teams, as well as the establishment of working routines that facilitate family involvement approaches.
PMCID: PMC4187461  PMID: 25280809
3.  Testing the Psychopathology of Psychosis: Evidence for a General Psychosis Dimension 
Schizophrenia Bulletin  2012;39(4):884-895.
Background: Psychiatric taxonomists have sometimes argued for a unitary psychosis syndrome and sometimes for a pentagonal model, including 5 diagnostic constructs of positive symptoms, negative symptoms, cognitive disorganization, mania, and depression. This continues to be debated in preparation for impending revisions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and the International Classification of Diseases. We aimed to identify general and specific dimensions underlying psychopathological features of psychosis. Methods: The samples comprised 309 patients admitted to psychiatric services in the acute phase of their first or second episode of psychosis and 507 patients with enduring psychosis recruited from community mental health teams. Patients’ symptoms were assessed on the Positive and Negative Symptom Scale. Analyses compared unitary, pentagonal, and bifactor models of psychosis. Results: In both samples, a bifactor model including 1 general psychosis factor and, independently, 5 specific factors of positive symptoms, negative symptoms, disorganization, mania, and depression gave the best fit. Scores of general and specific symptom dimensions were differentially associated with phase of illness, diagnosis, social functioning, insight, and neurocognitive functioning. Conclusions: The findings provide strong evidence for a general psychosis dimension in both early and enduring psychosis. Findings further allowed for independent formation of specific symptom dimensions. This may inform the current debate about revised classification systems of psychosis.
PMCID: PMC3686436  PMID: 22258881
classification; DSM-V; dimensions; item response modeling; psychosis; schizophrenia
4.  How do psychiatrists address delusions in first meetings in acute care? A qualitative study 
BMC Psychiatry  2014;14:178.
Communicating about delusions can be challenging, particularly when a therapeutic relationship needs to be established in acute care. So far, no systematic research has explored how psychiatrists address patients’ delusional beliefs in first meetings in acute care. The aim of this study was to describe how psychiatrists address patients’ delusional experiences in acute in-patient care.
First meetings between five psychiatrists and 14 patients in acute care were audio-recorded and analysed using thematic content analysis.
296 psychiatrist statements about delusions were identified and coded. Three commonly used approaches (with a total of 6 subthemes) were identified. The most common approaches were eliciting the content (1 subtheme: eliciting content and evidence) and understanding the impact (3 subthemes: identifying emotions, exploring links with dysfunctional behaviour and discussing reasons for hospital admission) while questioning the validity of the beliefs (2 subthemes: challenging content and exploring alternative explanations) was less common. The last approach sometimes put patients in a defensive position.
Psychiatrists commonly use three approaches to address patients’ delusions in the first meeting in acute in-patient care. Questioning the patients’ beliefs can lead to disagreement which might hinder establishing a positive therapeutic relationship. Future research should explore the impact of such an approach on outcomes and specify to what extent questioning the validity of delusional beliefs is appropriate in the first meeting.
PMCID: PMC4067065  PMID: 24935678
Delusions; Acute care; Communication; Therapeutic relationships
5.  Mechanisms of Psychological Distress following War in the Former Yugoslavia: The Role of Interpersonal Sensitivity 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e90503.
While high prevalence rates of psychological symptoms have been documented in civilian survivors of war, little is known about the mechanisms by which trauma exposure might lead to poor psychological outcomes in these populations. One potential mechanism that may underpin the association between war-related traumatic experiences and psychopathology is interpersonal sensitivity. In the current study, we applied structural equation modeling to investigate the impact of interpersonal sensitivity on posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, depression symptoms, and anger responses following exposure to war trauma. 3313 survivors of the war in the former Yugoslavia were identified and selected using a multistage, probabilistic sampling frame and random walk technique. Participants were interviewed regarding trauma exposure, interpersonal sensitivity, and PTSD symptoms, depression symptoms, and anger responses. Structural equation modeling analyses revealed that the relationship between trauma and PTSD symptoms and depression symptoms was partly statistically mediated by interpersonal sensitivity. Further, findings indicated that the relationship between trauma and anger responses was fully statistically mediated by interpersonal sensitivity. These results suggest that interpersonal sensitivity may function as a key mechanism that contributes to psychopathology following trauma.
PMCID: PMC3962331  PMID: 24658334
6.  Factors associated with quality of services for marginalized groups with mental health problems in 14 European countries 
Different service characteristics are known to influence mental health care delivery. Much less is known about the impact of contextual factors, such as the socioeconomic circumstances, on the provision of care to socially marginalized groups.
The objectives of this work were to assess the organisational characteristics of services providing mental health care for marginalized groups in 14 European capital cities and to explore the associations between organisational quality, service features and country-level characteristics.
617 services were assessed in two highly deprived areas in 14 European capital cities. A Quality Index of Service Organisation (QISO) was developed and applied across all sites. Service characteristics and country level socioeconomic indicators were tested and related with the Index using linear regressions and random intercept linear models.
The mean (standard deviation) of the QISO score (minimum = 0; maximum = 15) varied from 8.63 (2.23) in Ireland to 12.40 (2.07) in Hungary. The number of different programmes provided was the only service characteristic significantly correlated with the QISO (p < 0.05). The national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was inversely associated with the QISO. Nearly 15% of the variance of the QISO was attributed to country-level variables, with GDP explaining 12% of this variance.
Socioeconomic contextual factors, in particular the national GDP are likely to influence the organisational quality of services providing mental health care for marginalized groups. Such factors should be considered in international comparative studies. Their significance for different types of services should be explored in further research.
PMCID: PMC3915221  PMID: 24490720
Mental health services; Quality index of service organization; Socially marginalized groups; Multi-level analysis
7.  Diagnostic Utility of the Impact of Event Scale–Revised in Two Samples of Survivors of War 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e83916.
The study aimed at examining the diagnostic utility of the Impact of Event Scale-Revised (IES-R) as a screening tool for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in survivors of war. The IES-R was completed by two independent samples that had survived the war in the Balkans: a sample of randomly selected people who had stayed in the area of former conflict (n = 3,313) and a sample of refugees to Western European countries (n = 854). PTSD was diagnosed using the MINI International Neuropsychiatric Interview. Prevalence of PTSD was 20.1% in the Balkan sample and 33.1% in the refugee sample. Results revealed that when considering a minimum value of specificity of 0.80, the optimally sensitive cut-off score for screening for PTSD in the Balkan sample was 34. In both the Balkan sample and the refugee sample, this cut-off score provided good values on sensitivity (0.86 and 0.89, respectively) and overall efficiency (0.81 and 0.79, respectively). Further, the kappa coefficients for sensitivity for the cut-off of 34 were 0.80 in both samples. Findings of this study support the clinical utility of the IES-R as a screening tool for PTSD in large-scale research studies and intervention studies if structured diagnostic interviews are regarded as too labor-intensive and too costly.
PMCID: PMC3877127  PMID: 24391844
8.  Effectiveness of financial incentives to improve adherence to maintenance treatment with antipsychotics: cluster randomised controlled trial 
Objective To test whether offering financial incentives to patients with psychotic disorders is effective in improving adherence to maintenance treatment with antipsychotics.
Design Cluster randomised controlled trial.
Setting Community mental health teams in secondary psychiatric care in the United Kingdom.
Participants Patients with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, or bipolar disorder, who were prescribed long acting antipsychotic (depot) injections but had received 75% or less of the prescribed injections. We randomly allocated 73 teams with a total of 141 patients. Primary outcome data were available for 35 intervention teams with 75 patients (96% of randomised) and for 31 control teams with 56 patients (89% of randomised).
Interventions Participants in the intervention group were offered £15 (€17; $22) for each depot injection over a 12 month period. Participants in the control condition received treatment as usual.
Main outcome measure The primary outcome was the percentage of prescribed depot injections given during the 12 month intervention period.
Results 73 teams with 141 consenting patients were randomised, and outcomes were assessed for 131 patients (93%). Average baseline adherence was 69% in the intervention group and 67% in the control group. During the 12 month trial period adherence was 85% in the intervention group and 71% in the control group. The adjusted effect estimate was 11.5% (95% confidence interval 3.9% to 19.0%, P=0.003). A secondary outcome was an adherence of ≥95%, which was achieved in 28% of the intervention group and 5% of the control group (adjusted odds ratio 8.21, 95% confidence interval 2.00 to 33.67, P=0.003). Although differences in clinician rated clinical improvement between the groups failed to reach statistical significance, patients in the intervention group had more favourable subjective quality of life ratings (β=0.71, 95% confidence interval 0.26 to 1.15, P=0.002). The number of admissions to hospital and adverse events were low in both groups and did not show substantial differences.
Conclusion Offering modest financial incentives to patients with psychotic disorders is an effective method for improving adherence to maintenance treatment with antipsychotics.
Trial registration Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN77769281.
PMCID: PMC3805491  PMID: 24100934
9.  Gender differences in coerced patients with schizophrenia 
BMC Psychiatry  2013;13:257.
Despite the recent increase of research interest in involuntary treatment and the use of coercive measures, gender differences among coerced schizophrenia patients still remain understudied. It is well recognized that there are gender differences both in biological correlates and clinical presentations in schizophrenia, which is one of the most common diagnoses among patients who are treated against their will. The extent to which these differences may result in a difference in the use of coercive measures for men and women during the acute phase of the disease has not been studied.
291 male and 231 female coerced patients with schizophrenia were included in this study, which utilized data gathered by the EUNOMIA project (European Evaluation of Coercion in Psychiatry and Harmonization of Best Clinical Practice) and was carried out as a multi-centre prospective cohort study at 13 centers in 12 European countries. Sociodemographic and clinical characteristics, social functioning and aggressive behavior in patients who received any form of coercive measure (seclusion and/or forced medication and/or physical restraint) during their hospital stay were assessed.
When compared to the non-coerced inpatient population, there was no difference in sociodemographic or clinical characteristics across either gender. However coerced female patients did show a worse social functioning than their coerced male counterparts, a finding which contrasts with the non-coerced inpatient population. Moreover, patterns of aggressive behavior were different between men and women, such that women exhibited aggressive behavior more frequently, but men committed severe aggressive acts more frequently. Staff used forced medication in women more frequently and physical restraint and seclusion more frequently with men.
Results of this study point towards a higher threshold of aggressive behavior the treatment of women with coercive measures. This may be because less serious aggressive actions trigger the application of coercive measures in men. Moreover coerced women showed diminished social functioning, and more importantly more severe symptoms from the “excitement/hostile” cluster in contrast to coerced men. National and international recommendation on coercive treatment practices should include appropriate consideration of the evidence of gender differences in clinical presentation and aggressive behaviors found in inpatient populations.
PMCID: PMC3852852  PMID: 24118928
Gender; Schizophrenia; Involuntary treatment; Seclusion; Restraint; Forced medication; Aggressive behavior; EUNOMIA project
10.  Exploration of experiences in therapeutic groups for patients with severe mental illness: development of the Ferrara group experiences scale (FE- GES) 
BMC Psychiatry  2013;13:242.
Group therapies are routinely provided for patients with severe mental illness. The factors important to the group experience of patients are still poorly understood and are rarely measured. To support further research and practice, we aimed to develop a questionnaire that captures how patients experience groups within a community mental health context.
An initial pool of 39 items was conceptually generated to assess different aspects of group experiences. Items were completed by 166 patients with severe mental illness attending group therapies in community mental health services in Italy. Patients with different psychiatric diagnoses who attended at least 5 group sessions were included. An exploratory factor analysis was used to identify different dimensions of group experiences and to reduce the number of items for each dimension.
The resulting questionnaire has five subscales: 1) sharing of emotions and experiences, 2) cognitive improvement, 3) group learning, 4) difficulties in open expression and 5) relationships. Each subscale has 4 items. The scale and sub-scales have good internal consistency.
The Ferrara Group Experiences Scale is conceptually derived and assesses dimensions of group experience that are theoretically and practically relevant. It is brief, easy to use and has good psychometric properties. After further validation, the scale may be used for research into patient experiences across different group therapy modalities and for evaluation in routine care.
PMCID: PMC3851601  PMID: 24083824
Group therapy; Patient experiences; Severe mental illness; Community mental health care
11.  Study to assess the effect of a structured communication approach on quality of life in secure mental health settings (Comquol): study protocol for a pilot cluster randomized trial 
Trials  2013;14:257.
Forensic mental health services have largely ignored examining patients’ views on the nature of the services offered to them. A structured communication approach (DIALOG) has been developed with the aim of placing the patient’s perspective on their care at the heart of the discussions between patients and clinicians. The effectiveness of the structured communication approach in community mental health services has been demonstrated, but no trial has taken place in a secure psychiatric setting. This pilot study is evaluating a 6-month intervention combining DIALOG with principles of solution-focused therapy on quality of life in medium-secure settings.
Methods and design
A cluster randomized controlled trial design is being employed to conduct a 36-month pilot study. Participants are recruited from six medium-secure inpatient services, with 48 patients in the intervention group and 48 in the control group. The intervention uses a structured communication approach. It comprises six meetings between patient and nurse held monthly over a 6-month period. During each meeting, patients rate their satisfaction with a range of life and treatment domains with responses displayed on a tablet. The rating is followed by a discussion of how to improve the current situation in those domains identified by the patient. Assessments take place prior to the intervention (baseline), at 6 months (postintervention) and at 12 months (follow-up). The primary outcome is the patient’s self-reported quality of life.
This study aims to (1) establish the feasibility of the trial design as the basis for determining the viability of a large full-scale trial, (2) determine the variability of the outcomes of interest (quality of life, levels of satisfaction, disturbance, ward climate and engagement with services), (3) estimate the costs of the intervention and (4) refine the intervention following the outcome of the study based upon the experiences of the nurses and patients. The intervention allows patients to have a greater say in how they are treated and targets care in areas that patients identify as important to them. It is intended to establish systems that support meaningful patient and caregiver involvement and participation.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials, ISRCTN34145189
PMCID: PMC3765869  PMID: 23947774
Comquol; DIALOG; Forensic; Mental health; Quality of life; Solution-focused brief therapy
12.  Recovery from Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms: A Qualitative Study of Attributions in Survivors of War 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e70579.
The study explored factors to which people traumatized by war attribute their recovery from posttraumatic symptoms and from war experiences.
: In-depth interviews were conducted with two groups of participants with mental sequelae of the war in the former Yugoslavia: 26 people who had recovered from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and 17 people with ongoing symptoms of PTSD. Participants could attribute their recovery to any event, person or process in their life. The material was subjected to thematic analysis.
Eight themes covered all factors to which participants attributed their recovery. Six themes described healing factors relevant for both groups of participants: social attachment and support, various strategies of coping with symptoms, personality hardiness, mental health treatment, received material support, and normalization of everyday life. In addition to the common factors, recovered participants reported community involvement as healing, and recovered refugees identified also feeling safe after resolving their civil status as helpful. Unique to the recovered group was that they maintained reciprocal relations in social attachment and support, employed future-oriented coping and emphasised their resilient personality style.
The reported factors of recovery are largely consistent with models of mental health protection, models of resilience and recommended interventions in the aftermath of massive trauma. Yet, they add the importance of a strong orientation towards the future, a reciprocity in receiving and giving social support and involvement in meaningful activities that ensure social recognition as a productive and valued individual. The findings can inform psychosocial interventions to facilitate recovery from posttraumatic symptoms of people affected by war and upheaval.
PMCID: PMC3737411  PMID: 23950965
13.  A Systematic Review of Music Therapy Practice and Outcomes with Acute Adult Psychiatric In-Patients 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e70252.
Background and Objectives
There is an emerging evidence base for the use of music therapy in the treatment of severe mental illness. Whilst different models of music therapy have been developed in mental health care, none have specifically accounted for the features and context of acute in-patient settings. This review aimed to identify how music therapy is provided for acute adult psychiatric in-patients and what outcomes have been reported.
Review Methods
A systematic review using medical, psychological and music therapy databases. Papers describing music therapy with acute adult psychiatric in-patients were included. Analysis utilised narrative synthesis.
98 papers were identified, of which 35 reported research findings. Open group work and active music making for nonverbal expression alongside verbal reflection was emphasised. Aims were engagement, communication and interpersonal relationships focusing upon immediate areas of need rather than longer term insight. The short stay, patient diversity and institutional structure influenced delivery and resulted in a focus on single sessions, high session frequency, more therapist direction, flexible use of musical activities, predictable musical structures, and clear realistic goals. Outcome studies suggested effectiveness in addressing a range of symptoms, but were limited by methodological shortcomings and small sample sizes. Studies with significant positive effects all used active musical participation with a degree of structure and were delivered in four or more sessions.
No single clearly defined model exists for music therapy with adults in acute psychiatric in-patient settings, and described models are not conclusive. Greater frequency of therapy, active structured music making with verbal discussion, consistency of contact and boundaries, an emphasis on building a therapeutic relationship and building patient resources may be of particular importance. Further research is required to develop specific music therapy models for this patient group that can be tested in experimental studies.
PMCID: PMC3732280  PMID: 23936399
14.  Prevalence Rates of Mental Disorders in Chilean Prisons 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e69109.
High rates of mental disorders have been reported for prison populations worldwide, particularly in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The present study aimed to establish prevalence rates of mental disorders in Chilean prisoners.
A nationwide random sample of 1008 prisoners was assessed in 7 penal institutions throughout Chile. Twelve-month prevalence rates were established using the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI) and compared to the prevalence rates previously published for the general population.
Prevalence rates were 12.2% (95% CI, 10.2-14.1) for any substance use disorder, 8.3% (6.6-10.0) for anxiety disorders, 8.1% (6.5-9.8) for affective disorders, 5.7% (4.4-7.1) for intermittent explosive disorders, 2.2% (1.4-3.2) for ADHD of the adult, and 0.8% (0.3-1.3) for non-affective psychoses. Significantly higher prevalence rates among prisoners as compared to the general population in Chile were seen for major depression (6.1% vs. 3.7% males, Z=2.58, p<0.05) and illicit drug use (3.3% vs. 0.6% males with drug abuse, Z=2.04, p<0.05; 2.6% vs. 0.1% females with drug abuse, Z=5.36, p<0.001; 3.4% vs. 1.1% males with drug dependence, Z=3.70; p<0.001). Dysthymia (6.5% vs. 15.6%, Z=-2.39, p<0.05), simple (3.3% vs. 11.5%, Z=-3.13, p<0.001) and social phobias (3.9% vs. 9.7%, Z=2.38, p<0.05) were significantly less frequent in the female prison population than in the general population. One-year prevalence rates of alcohol abuse (2.3% vs. 3.9%; Z=-2.04; p<0.05) and dependence (2.7% vs. 8.2%; Z=-5.24; p<0.001) were less prevalent in the male prison population than in the general population.
Service provision for prison populations in Chile should acknowledge high rates of depression and illicit drug use. Overall prevalence rates are lower than reported in other LMICs. Previous research in prison populations in LMICs might have overestimated prevalence rates of mental disorders.
PMCID: PMC3718830  PMID: 23894415
15.  Subjective quality of life in war-affected populations 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:624.
Exposure to traumatic war events may lead to a reduction in quality of life for many years. Research suggests that these impairments may be associated with posttraumatic stress symptoms; however, wars also have a profound impact on social conditions. Systematic studies utilising subjective quality of life (SQOL) measures are particularly rare and research in post-conflict settings is scarce. Whether social factors independently affect SQOL after war in addition to symptoms has not been explored in large scale studies.
War-affected community samples were recruited through a random-walk technique in five Balkan countries and through registers and networking in three Western European countries. The interviews were carried out on average 8 years after the war in the Balkans. SQOL was assessed on Manchester Short Assessment of Quality of Life - MANSA. We explored the impact of war events, posttraumatic stress symptoms and post-war environment on SQOL.
We interviewed 3313 Balkan residents and 854 refugees in Western Europe. The MANSA mean score was 4.8 (SD = 0.9) for the Balkan sample and 4.7 (SD = 0.9) for refugees. In both samples participants were explicitly dissatisfied with their employment and financial situation. Posttraumatic stress symptoms had a strong negative impact on SQOL. Traumatic war events were directly linked with lower SQOL in Balkan residents. The post-war environment influenced SQOL in both groups: unemployment was associated with lower SQOL and recent contacts with friends with higher SQOL. Experiencing more migration-related stressors was linked to poorer SQOL in refugees.
Both posttraumatic stress symptoms and aspects of the post-war environment independently influence SQOL in war-affected populations. Aid programmes to improve wellbeing following the traumatic war events should include both treatment of posttraumatic symptoms and social interventions.
PMCID: PMC3716711  PMID: 23819629
Subjective Quality of Life; War Trauma; Post-conflict Settings; Refugees
16.  Effectiveness of structured patient-clinician communication with a solution focused approach (DIALOG+) in community treatment of patients with psychosis – a cluster randomised controlled trial 
BMC Psychiatry  2013;13:173.
Large numbers of patients with psychosis have regular meetings with key clinicians in the community. There is little evidence on how these meetings should be conducted to be therapeutically effective. DIALOG, a computer mediated procedure, was shown to improve outcomes in a European multi-centre trial. DIALOG structures the patient-clinician communication and makes it patient-centred, but does not guide clinicians as to how to respond to patients’ concerns. DIALOG has been further developed into DIALOG+, which uses advanced software and, additionally, provides a four step approach - based on a solution focused model - for addressing patients’ concerns. We designed a cluster randomised controlled trial to test the effectiveness of DIALOG+ in improving treatment outcomes of patients with psychosis in the community.
Key workers are recruited from community mental health teams in East London and randomly allocated to either the intervention or control group. Out of their case loads, we identify patients with schizophrenia (F 20–29) and a moderate or lower level of subjective quality of life (MANSA score <5), who are treated according to the allocation of their key workers. Key workers in the intervention group are trained in using DIALOG+ and use it with each patient over a six-month period. Control patients rate their satisfaction with life and treatment on a tablet to control for the effect of regular ratings and the use of modern technology. We are recruiting up to 42 key workers to reach a total sample size of 180 patients. Clinical and social outcomes including costs are assessed after 3, 6 and 12 months. Primary outcome is subjective quality-of-life at 6 months.
The trial aims to evaluate the effectiveness of a novel intervention (DIALOG+) which uses modern technology to support routine patient-clinician meetings in community care, makes the communication patient centred and guides patients and clinicians to address concerns. DIALOG+ is a generic and widely applicable intervention. If shown as effective, it can be used to improve outcomes of community care on a large scale, ensuring that routine encounters are therapeutically effective. DIALOG+ can also be implemented across services at relatively low additional costs.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN34757603
PMCID: PMC3702422  PMID: 23802602
17.  Understanding psychiatric institutionalization: a conceptual review 
BMC Psychiatry  2013;13:169.
Since Goffman’s seminal work on psychiatric institutions, deinstitutionalization has become a leading term in the psychiatric debate. It described the process of closure or downsizing of large psychiatric hospitals and the establishment of alternative services in the community. Yet, there is a lack of clarity on what exactly the concept of institutionalization means in present-day psychiatry. This review aims to identify the meaning of psychiatric institutionalization since the early 1960s to present-day.
A conceptual review of institutionalization in psychiatry was conducted. Thematic analysis was used to synthesize the findings.
Four main themes were identified in conceptualizing institutionalization: bricks and mortar of care institutions; policy and legal frameworks regulating care; clinical responsibility and paternalism in clinician-patient relationships; and patients’ adaptive behavior to institutionalized care.
The concept of institutionalization in psychiatry reflects four distinct themes. All themes have some relevance for the contemporary debate on how psychiatric care should develop and on the role of institutional care in psychiatry.
PMCID: PMC3702490  PMID: 23773398
Psychiatric Institutionalization; De-institutionalization; Re-institutionalization; Mental Health Care
18.  Symptoms and Subjective Quality of Life in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: A Longitudinal Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e60991.
Evidence suggests that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is associated with substantially reduced subjective quality of life (SQOL). This study aimed to explore whether and how changes in the levels of PTSD symptom clusters of intrusion, avoidance and hyperarousal are associated with changes in SQOL.
Two samples with PTSD following the war in former Yugoslavia were studied, i.e. a representative sample of 530 people in five Balkan countries and a non-representative sample of 215 refugees in three Western European countries. They were assessed on average eight years after the war and re-interviewed one year later. PTSD symptoms were assessed on the Impact of Event Scale - Revised and SQOL on the Manchester Short Assessment of Quality of Life. Linear regression and a two-wave cross lagged panel analysis were used to explore the association between PTSD symptom clusters and SQOL.
The findings in the two samples were consistent. Symptom reduction over time was associated with improved SQOL. In multivariable analyses adjusted for the influence of all three clusters, gender and time since war exposure, only changes in hyperarousal symptoms were significantly associated with changes in SQOL. The two-wave cross-lagged panel analysis suggested that the link between hyperarousal symptoms and SQOL is bidirectional.
Low SQOL of patients with war-related PTSD is particularly associated with hyperarousal symptoms. The findings suggest a bidirectional influence: a reduction in hyperarousal symptoms may result in improved SQOL, and improvements in SQOL may lead to reduced hyperarousal symptoms.
PMCID: PMC3621668  PMID: 23585868
19.  Symptoms Associated with Victimization in Patients with Schizophrenia and Related Disorders 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e58142.
Patients with psychoses have an increased risk of becoming victims of violence. Previous studies have suggested that higher symptom levels are associated with a raised risk of becoming a victim of physical violence. There has been, however, no evidence on the type of symptoms that are linked with an increased risk of recent victimization.
Data was taken from two studies on involuntarily admitted patients, one national study in England and an international one in six other European countries. In the week following admission, trained interviewers asked patients whether they had been victims of physical violence in the year prior to admission, and assessed symptoms on the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS). Only patients with a diagnosis of schizophrenia or related disorders (ICD-10 F20–29) were included in the analysis which was conducted separately for the two samples. Symptom levels assessed on the BPRS subscales were tested as predictors of victimization. Univariable and multivariable logistic regression models were fitted to estimate adjusted odds ratios.
Data from 383 patients in the English sample and 543 patients in the European sample was analysed. Rates of victimization were 37.8% and 28.0% respectively. In multivariable models, the BPRS manic subscale was significantly associated with victimization in both samples.
Higher levels of manic symptoms indicate a raised risk of being a victim of violence in involuntary patients with schizophrenia and related disorders. This might be explained by higher activity levels, impaired judgement or poorer self-control in patients with manic symptoms. Such symptoms should be specifically considered in risk assessments.
PMCID: PMC3602443  PMID: 23526968
20.  How do general practitioners experience providing care to refugees with mental health problems? A qualitative study from Denmark 
BMC Family Practice  2013;14:17.
Refugees are a particularly vulnerable group in relation to the development of mental illness and many may have been subjected to torture or other traumatic experiences. General practitioners are gatekeepers for access to several parts of the psychiatric system and knowledge of their patients’ refugee background is crucial to secure adequate care. The aim of this study is to investigate how general practitioners experience providing care to refugees with mental health problems.
The study was conducted as part of an EU project on European Best Practices in Access, Quality and Appropriateness of Health Services for Immigrants in Europe (EUGATE). Semi-structured interviews were carried out with nine general practitioners in the vicinity of Copenhagen purposively selected from areas with a high proportion of immigrants. The analysis of the interviews is inspired by qualitative content analysis.
One of the main themes identified in the analysis is communication. This includes the use of professional interpreters and that communication entails more than sharing a common language. Quality of care is another theme that emerges and includes awareness of possible trauma history, limited possibilities for refugees to participate in certain treatments due to language barriers and feelings of hopelessness in the general practitioners. The general practitioners may also choose different referral pathways for refugees and they report that their patients lack understanding regarding the differences between psychological problems and physical symptoms.
General practitioners experience that providing care to refugees differs from providing care for patients from the majority population. The different strategies employed by the general practitioners in the health care treatment of refugees may be the result of the great diversity in the organisation of general practice in Denmark and the lack of a national strategy in the health care management of refugees. The findings from this study suggest that the development of conversational models for general practitioners including points to be aware of in the treatment of refugee patients may serve as a support in the management of refugee patients in primary care.
PMCID: PMC3568406  PMID: 23356401
Primary care; Refugees; Migration; Trans-cultural psychiatry; Mental health; Categorisation
21.  Effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of body psychotherapy in the treatment of negative symptoms of schizophrenia – a multi-centre randomised controlled trial 
BMC Psychiatry  2013;13:26.
Negative symptoms of schizophrenia are frequently associated with poor long term outcomes. Established interventions have little, if any, positive effects on negative symptoms. Arts Therapies such as Body Psychotherapy (BPT) have been suggested to reduce negative symptoms, but the existing evidence is limited. In a small exploratory trial a manualised form of group BPT led to significantly lower negative symptom levels both at the end of treatment and at 4 months follow-up as compared to supportive counseling. We designed a large multi-site trial to assess the effectiveness of a manualised BPT intervention in reducing negative symptoms, compared to an active control.
In a randomised controlled trial, 256 schizophrenic outpatients with negative symptoms will be randomly allocated either to BPT or Pilates groups. In both conditions, patients will be offered two 90 minutes sessions per week in groups of about 8 patients over a period of 10 weeks. Outcomes are assessed at the end of treatment and at six months follow-up. The primary outcome is severity of negative symptoms, as measured by the Positive and Negative Symptom Scale (PANSS), whilst a range of secondary outcome measures include general psychopathology, social contacts, and quality of life. We will also assess the cost-effectiveness of the intervention.
The study aims to evaluate the effectiveness of a promising form of group therapy which may help alleviate negative symptoms that are associated with unfavourable long-term outcomes and have so far been difficult to treat. If the trial is successful, it will add a new and effective option in the treatment of negative symptoms. Group BPT is manualised, might be attractive to many patients because of its unusual approach, and could potentially be rolled out to services at relatively little additional cost.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN84216587
PMCID: PMC3556155  PMID: 23317474
22.  Reporting participation rates in studies of non-pharmacological interventions for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a systematic review 
Systematic Reviews  2012;1:66.
Pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) and self-management (SM) support programmes are effective in the management of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), but these interventions are not widely implemented in routine care. One reason may be poor patient participation and retention. We conducted a systematic review to determine a true estimate of participation and dropout rates in research studies of these interventions.
Studies were identified from eight electronic databases including MEDLINE, UK Clinical Trial Register, Cochrane library, and reference lists of identified studies. Controlled clinical trial studies of structured SM, PR and health education (HE) programmes for COPD were included. Data extraction included ‘participant flow’ data using the Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT) statement and its extension to pragmatic trials. Patient ‘participation rates’ (study participation rate (SPR), study dropout rate (SDR) and intervention dropout rate (IDR)) were calculated using prior participation definitions consistent with CONSORT. Random effects logistic regression analysis was conducted to examine effects of four key study characteristics (group vs. individual treatment, year of publication, study quality and exercise vs. non-exercise) on participation rates.
Fifty-six quantitative studies (51 randomised controlled trials, three quasi-experimental and two before-after studies) evaluated PR (n = 31), SM (n = 21) and HE (n = 4). Reports of participant flow were generally incomplete; ‘numbers of potential participants identified’ were only available for 16%, and ‘numbers assessed for eligibility’ for only 39% of studies. Although ‘numbers eligible’ were better reported (77%), we were unable to calculate SPR for 23% of studies. Overall we found ‘participation rates’ for studies (n = 43) were higher than previous reports; only 19% of studies had less than 50% SPR and just over one-third (34%) had a SPR of 100%; SDR and IDR were less than or equal to 30% for around 93% of studies. There was no evidence of effects of study characteristics on participation rates.
Unlike previous reports, we found high participation and low dropout rates in studies of PR or SM support for COPD. Previous studies adopted different participation definitions; some reported proportions without stating definitions clearly, obscuring whether proportions referred to the study or the intervention. Clear, uniform definitions of patient participation in studies are needed to better inform the wider implementation of effective interventions.
PMCID: PMC3563605  PMID: 23272768
Patient participation; Patient dropouts; Randomised controlled trial; Controlled clinical trial; Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Self-care; Self-management
23.  Volunteering in the care of people with severe mental illness: a systematic review 
BMC Psychiatry  2012;12:226.
Much of the literature to date concerning public attitudes towards people with severe mental illness (SMI) has focused on negative stereotypes and discriminatory behaviour. However, there also exists a tradition of volunteering with these people, implying a more positive attitude. Groups with positive attitudes and behaviours towards people with SMI have received relatively little attention in research. They merit further attention, as evidence on characteristics and experiences of volunteers may help to promote volunteering. The present paper aims to systematically review the literature reporting characteristics, motivations, experiences, and benefits of volunteers in the care of people with SMI.
In November 2010, a systematic electronic search was carried out in BNI, CINAHL, Embase, Medline, PsycINFO, Cochrane Registers and Web of Science databases, using a combination of ‘volunteer’, ‘mental health’ and ‘outcome’ search terms. A secondary hand search was performed in relevant psychiatric journals, grey literature and references.
14 papers met the inclusion criteria for the review, with data on a total of 540 volunteers. The results suggest that volunteers are a mostly female, but otherwise heterogeneous group. Motivations for volunteering are a combination of what they can ‘give’ to others and what they can ‘get’ for themselves. Overall volunteers report positive experiences. The main benefit to persons with a psychiatric illness is the gaining of a companion, who is non-stigmatizing and proactive in increasing their social-community involvement.
The evidence base for volunteers in care of people with SMI is small and inconsistent. However there are potential implications for both current and future volunteering programmes from the data. As the data suggests that there is no ‘typical’ volunteer, volunteering programmes should recruit individuals from a variety of backgrounds. The act of volunteering can not only benefit people with SMI, but also the volunteers. Further research may specify methods of recruiting, training, supervising and using volunteers to maximise the benefit for all involved.
PMCID: PMC3534251  PMID: 23237048
Volunteering; Severe mental illness (SMI); Social support
24.  Friends and Symptom Dimensions in Patients with Psychosis: A Pooled Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e50119.
Having friends is associated with more favourable clinical outcomes and a higher quality of life in mental disorders. Patients with schizophrenia have fewer friends than other mentally ill patients. No large scale studies have evaluated so far what symptom dimensions of schizophrenia are associated with the lack of friendships.
Data from four multi-centre studies on outpatients with schizophrenia and related disorders (ICD F20-29) were included in a pooled analysis (N = 1396). We established whether patients had close friends and contact with friends by using the equivalent items on friendships of the Manchester Short Assessment of Quality of Life or of the Lancashire Quality of Life Profile. Symptoms were measured by the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale or by the identical items included in the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale.
Seven hundred and sixty-nine patients (55.1%) had seen a friend in the previous week and 917 (65.7%) had someone they regarded as a close friend. Low levels of negative symptoms and hostility were significantly associated with having a close friend and contact with a friend. Overall, almost twice as many patients with absent or mild negative symptoms had met a friend in the last week, compared with those with moderate negative symptoms.
Higher levels of negative symptoms and hostility are specifically associated with the lack of friendships in patients with psychotic disorders. These findings suggest the importance of developing effective treatments for negative symptoms and hostility in order to improve the probability of patients with schizophrenia to have friends.
PMCID: PMC3503760  PMID: 23185552
25.  Refugees’ views of the effectiveness of support provided by their host countries 
European Journal of Psychotraumatology  2012;3:10.3402/ejpt.v3i0.8447.
The war in former Yugoslavia, which commenced in 1990, caused the biggest refugee crisis in Europe since World War II. There are numerous research investigations into the trauma and associated problems. However, there is no available publication concerning refugees’ own perception of the provided support in host countries.
To investigate how refugees evaluated support received (helpful or detrimental) and what kinds of support they wish to receive in the future.
The study participants were 854 refugees from former Yugoslavia settled in the United Kingdom, Germany, and Italy. Alongside demographic data, they were assessed using International Neuropsychiatric Interview (MINI), Life Stressor Checklist–Revised (LSC–R), Manchester Short Assessment of Quality of Life (MANSA), Matrix for Recording Health Care, Social Interventions (MACSI), and an open questions interview.
Data revealed that 99.3% of refugees received some kind of support. The most frequent support (98.7%) was primary health care and the least frequent (34.7%) was support in employment and further training. The most helpful (27.5%) was primary health care, and the most detrimental (11.6%) was legal support. The most desired types of support were help in employment (31.8%) and further education/training (20.5%). The educational level of refugees affected their perceptions of support as detrimental or desired.
There are different levels of received and desired support among host countries. There are also differences in the perception of received and desired support with regard to the refugees’ educational levels.
PMCID: PMC3480961  PMID: 23105960
War; trauma; refugees; support

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