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2.  Discontinuous Patterns of Brain Activation in the Psychotherapy Process of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Converging Results from Repeated fMRI and Daily Self-Reports 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e71863.
This study investigates neuronal activation patterns during the psychotherapeutic process, assuming that change dynamics undergo critical instabilities and discontinuous transitions. An internet-based system was used to collect daily self-assessments during inpatient therapies. A dynamic complexity measure was applied to the resulting time series. Critical phases of the change process were indicated by the maxima of the varying complexity. Repeated functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) measurements were conducted over the course of the therapy. The study was realized with 9 patients suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder (subtype: washing/contamination fear) and 9 matched healthy controls. For symptom-provocative stimulation individualized pictures from patients’ personal environments were used. The neuronal responses to these disease-specific pictures were compared to the responses during standardized disgust-provoking and neutral pictures. Considerably larger neuronal changes in therapy-relevant brain areas (cingulate cortex/supplementary motor cortex, bilateral dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, bilateral insula, bilateral parietal cortex, cuneus) were observed during critical phases (order transitions), as compared to non-critical phases, and also compared to healthy controls. The data indicate that non-stationary changes play a crucial role in the psychotherapeutic process supporting self-organization and complexity models of therapeutic change.
PMCID: PMC3744482  PMID: 23977168
3.  Age-related aspects of addiction 
Gerontology  2012;58(6):540-544.
Research has shown that substance use, abuse and addiction are not limited to a specific age group. Problems related to substance addiction are an important cause of morbidity in the population aged 65 and above, especially the abuse of prescription drugs and legal substances. A lack of evidence-based studies and tailored treatment options for the aging population is evident. Appropriate and effective health-care is an important goal to improve health-related quality of life of elderly people. Research in the increasingly aging population needs to include an age- and gender-sensitive approach.
PMCID: PMC3540205  PMID: 22722821
Addiction; Substance use; Substance abuse; Substance dependence; Prescribed medication; Alcohol; Age; Gerontology
4.  Peripartum pain management in opioid dependent women 
Increased pain sensitivity and the development of opioid tolerance complicate the treatment of pain experienced by opioid maintained pregnant women during delivery and the perinatal period. The aim of the present study was to investigate differences in pain management of opioid maintained compared to non-dependent pregnant women during delivery and the postpartum period. 40 deliveries of 37 opioid dependent women enrolled in a double-blind, double-dummy randomized controlled trial (RCT) examining the safety and efficacy of methadone (mean dose at the time of delivery = 63.89 mg) and buprenorphine (mean dose at the time of delivery = 14.05 mg) during pregnancy were analyzed and participants were matched to a non-dependent comparison group of 80 pregnant women. Differences in pain management (opioid and non-opioid analgesic medication) during delivery and perinatal period were analyzed. Following cesarean delivery opioid maintained women received significantly less opioid analgesics (day of delivery p = 0.038; day 1: p = 0.02), NSAIDs were administered more frequently to opioid dependent patients than to the comparison group during cesarean section and on the third day postpartum. Significantly higher nicotine consumption in the group of opioid dependent women had a strong influence on the retrieved results, and might be considered as an independent factor of altered pain experience. Differences in pain treatment became evident when comparing opioid maintained women to healthy controls. These differences might be based on psychosocial consequences of opioid addiction along with the lack of an interdisciplinary consensus on pain treatment protocols for opioid dependent patients.
PMCID: PMC3290684  PMID: 22396085
pain; opioid dependence; pregnancy; NSAIDs; methadone; buprenorphine
5.  Influence of Site Differences between Urban and Rural American and Central European Opioid-Dependent Pregnant Women and Neonatal Outcome Characteristics 
European Addiction Research  2012;18(3):130-139.
Multi-center trials enable the recruitment of larger study samples, although results might be influenced by site-specific factors.
Site differences of a multi-center prospective double-blind, double-dummy randomized controlled trial (7 centers: Central Europe (Vienna)/USA (3 urban/3 rural centers)) comparing safety and efficacy of methadone and buprenorphine in pregnant opioid-dependent women and their neonates.
Urban US women had the highest rate of concomitant opioid (p = 0.050) and cocaine consumption (p = 0.003), the highest dropout rate (p = 0.001), and received the lowest voucher sums (p = 0.001). Viennese neonates had significantly higher Apgar scores 1 min (p = 0.001) and 5 min after birth (p < 0.001) and were more often born by cesarean section (p = 0.024). Rural US newborns had a significantly shorter neonatal abstinence syndrome treatment duration compared to Viennese and urban US sites (p = 0.006), in addition to other site-specific differences, suggesting a more severely affected group of women in the urban US sites.
This clinical trial represents a role model for pharmacological treatment in this unique sample of pregnant women and demonstrates the clinical importance of considering site-specific factors in research and clinical practice.
PMCID: PMC3696360  PMID: 22354163
Opioid dependence; Pregnancy; Methadone; Buprenorphine; Maternal and neonatal outcome; Regional disparities
6.  Are male neonates more vulnerable to neonatal abstinence syndrome than female neonates? 
Gender medicine  2011;8(6):355-364.
Prior studies have shown an increased vulnerability among males, to adverse outcomes during the postnatal period. The majority of children exposed to opioids and other medication in utero develop a neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), yet individual predisposition for NAS is poorly understood. This investigation examines the role of neonatal sex in the postnatal period, for neonates exposed to standardized opioid maintenance treatment in utero with a focus on the neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) regarding severity, medication requirements and duration.
Patients and Methods
This is a secondary analysis of data collected in a prospective randomized, double-blind, double-dummy multi-center trial examining the comparative safety and efficacy of methadone and buprenorphine during pregnancy (Maternal Opioid Treatment: Human Experimental research MOTHER – study). 131 neonates born to opioid-dependent women randomized at six US sites (n=74) and one European site (n=37) were analyzed. Sex-based differences in birth weight, length, head circumference, NAS duration, NAS severity, and treatment parameters of full-term neonates were assessed.
Males had a significantly higher birth weight (p=0.027) and head circumference (p=0.017) than females, with no significant sex difference in rates of preterm delivery. No significant sex-related differences were found for NAS development, severity, duration, or medication administered with non significant differences in concomitant drug consumption during pregnancy (p =0.959).
This unique prospective study shows similar postnatal vulnerability for both sexes, suggesting that factors other than sex are the major determinants of clinically significant NAS.
PMCID: PMC3241965  PMID: 22088886
opioid dependence; methadone; buprenorphine; pregnancy; neonatal abstinence syndrome; sex differences
7.  Randomized Controlled Trials in Pregnancy: Scientific and Ethical Aspects Exposure to different opioid medications during pregnancy in an intra-individual comparison 
Addiction (Abingdon, England)  2011;106(7):1355-1362.
Chronic medical conditions such as opioid dependence require evidence-based treatment recommendations. However, pregnant women are underrepresented in clinical trials. We describe the first within-subject comparison of maternal and neonatal outcomes for methadone vs. buprenorphine exposed pregnancies. Though methadone is the established treatment of pregnant opioid dependent women, recent investigations have shown a trend for a milder neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) under buprenorphine. However, it is not only the choice of maintenance medication that determines the occurrence of NAS, other factors such as maternal metabolism, illicit substance abuse and nicotine consumption also influence its severity and duration and represent confounding factors in the assessment of randomized clinical trials.
Case series description
Three women who were part of the European cohort of a randomized, double-blind multicenter trial with a contingency management tool [the Maternal Opioid Treatment: Human Experimental Research (MOTHER) study], each had two consecutive pregnancies and were maintained on either methadone or buprenorphine for their first and then the respective opposite, still-blinded medication for their second pregnancy. Birth measurements, the total neonatal abstinence score, the total amounts of medication used to treat NAS and the days of NAS treatment duration were assessed.
Both medications were effective and safe in reducing illicit opioid relapse and avoiding preterm labour. Methadone maintenance yielded to a significantly higher neonatal birth weight. Data patterns suggest that buprenorphine-exposure was associated with lower neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) scores. Findings from this unique case series are consistent with earlier reports using between-group analyses.
Buprenorphine has the potential to become an established treatment alternative to methadone for pregnant opioid dependent women. Under special consideration of ethical boundaries, psychopharmacological treatment during pregnancy must be addressed as an integral part of clinical research projects in order to optimize treatment for women and neonates.
PMCID: PMC3107876  PMID: 21438938
opioid dependence; methadone; buprenorphine; pregnancy; neonatal abstinence syndrome
8.  Stigma Resistance in Patients With Schizophrenia 
Schizophrenia Bulletin  2009;37(2):316-323.
Background: An individual's capacity to counteract the stigma of mental illness, stigma resistance (SR), is considered as playing a crucial role in fighting stigma. However, little is known about SR and its correlates in patients with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. Aim: Exploring SR in patients with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. Method: One hundred fifty-seven participants completed the “Internalized Stigma of Mental Illness” (ISMI) Scale including its subscale on SR. Measures of perceived devaluation and discrimination, depression, self-esteem, empowerment, quality of life, and demographic and clinical variables were obtained. Results: Two-thirds of all patients showed high SR. SR correlated positively with self-esteem, empowerment, and quality of life and negatively with stigma measures and depression. A social network with a sufficient number of friends, being single or married, in contrast to being separated, as well as receiving outpatient treatment, was associated with higher SR. Conclusions: SR is a new and promising concept. The development of stigma-resisting beliefs might help individuals in their hope of finding a fulfilling life and in their recovery from mental illness.
PMCID: PMC3044638  PMID: 19487336
stigma; stigma resistance; quality of life; empowerment
9.  Opioid Dependent and Pregnant: What Are the Best Options for Mothers and Neonates? 
Pregnancy in opioid-dependent women is a major public health issue. Women who are afflicted by opioid addiction are a highly vulnerable group of patients frequently becoming pregnant unplanned and at risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes and peri-natal complications. Opioid agonist maintenance treatment is the best option for the majority of women. Ideally, early and closely monitored treatment in an interdisciplinary team approach including social workers, nurses, psychologists, psychiatrists, gynecologists, anesthesiologists, and pediatricians should be provided. The treatment of comorbid psychiatric conditions, the resolution of financial, legal, and housing issues, and the psychosocial support provided have a significant effect on optimizing pregnancy outcomes. This paper aims to update health professionals in the field of gynecology and obstetrics on the latest optimal treatment approaches for mothers suffering from opioid dependence and their neonates.
PMCID: PMC3306958  PMID: 22496696
10.  Gender issues in the Pharmacotherapy of Opioid-Addicted Women: Buprenorphine 
Journal of addictive diseases  2010;29(2):217-230.
Gender, a biological determinant of mental health and illness, plays a critical role in determining patients’ susceptibility, exposure to mental health risks, and related outcomes. Regarding sex differences in the epidemiology of opioid dependence, one third of the patients are women of childbearing age. Women have an earlier age of initiation of substance use and a more rapid progression to drug involvement and dependence than men. Generally few studies exist which focus on the special needs of women in opioid maintenance therapy. The aim of this paper is to provide an overview of treatment options for opioid-dependent women, with a special focus on buprenorphine, and to look at recent findings related to other factors that should be taken into consideration in optimizing the treatment of opioid-dependent women. Issues addressed include the role of gender in the choice of medication assisted treatment, sex differences in pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics of buprenorphine drug interactions, cardiac interactions, induction of buprenorphine in pregnant patients, the neonatal abstinence syndrome and breastfeeding. This paper aims to heighten the awareness for the need to take gender into consideration when making treatment decisions in an effort to optimize services and enhance the quality of life of women suffering from substance abuse.
PMCID: PMC2858865  PMID: 20407978
Gender; buprenorphine; opioid dependence; neonatal abstinence syndrome
11.  How Patients With Schizophrenia Use the Internet: Qualitative Study 
The Internet is an important source of health information for people with psychiatric conditions. Little is known about the way patients with schizophrenia use the Internet when it comes to issues related to their illness. Data on their specific needs, difficulties, and the consequences related to Internet use are lacking.
Our objective was to investigate the nature and subjective consequences of health-related Internet use among patients with schizophrenia.
In all, 26 individual semistructured interviews were conducted and analyzed qualitatively in groups of 4 until theoretical saturation was achieved.
Study results suggest that the Internet is an influential source of illness-related information for patients with schizophrenia. Many aspects of their behavior around the Internet resemble those of individuals not afflicted by mental illness. Importantly, problems specific to patients with schizophrenia were stimulus overflow, an inability to deal with the abundance of information, difficulties with concentration, lack of energy, paranoid ideas, symptom provocation, and the need to distance themselves from illness-related topics as part of the recovery process. Internet information was subjectively perceived as having the potential to significantly change patients’ attitudes toward medication and their relationships with doctors.
These findings provide insight into how individuals with schizophrenia handle illness-related Internet information. The data could contribute to the continuous development of Internet-based interventions and offer novel approaches to optimizing traditional treatment options.
PMCID: PMC3057320  PMID: 21169176
Schizophrenia; psychosis; Internet; attitudes; behaviors

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