This cross-sectional survey investigated whether there were ethnic differences in depressive symptoms among British South Asian (BSA) patients with cancer compared with British White (BW) patients during 9 months following presentation at a UK Cancer Centre. We examined associations between depressed mood, coping strategies and the burden of symptoms.
Questionnaires were administered to 94 BSA and 185 BW recently diagnosed patients with cancer at baseline and at 3 and 9 months. In total, 53.8% of the BSA samples were born in the Indian subcontinent, 33% in Africa and 12.9% in the UK. Three screening tools for depression were used to counter concerns about ethnic bias and validity in linguistic translation. The Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS-D), Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (both validated in Gujarati), Emotion Thermometers (including the Distress Thermometer (DT), Mini-MAC and the newly developed Cancer Insight and Denial questionnaire (CIDQ) were completed.
Leicestershire Cancer Centre, UK.
94 BSA and 185 BW recently diagnosed patients with cancer.
BSA self-reported significantly higher rates of depressive symptoms compared with BW patients longitudinally (HADS-D ≥8: baseline: BSA 35.1% vs BW 16.8%, p=0.001; 3 months BSA 45.6% vs BW 20.8%, p=0.001; 9 months BSA 40.6% vs BW 15.3%, p=0.004). BSA patients used potentially maladaptive coping strategies more frequently than BW patients at baseline (hopelessness/helplessness p=0.005, fatalism p=0.0005, avoidance p=0.005; the CIDQ denial statement ‘I do not really believe I have cancer’ p=0.0005). BSA patients experienced more physical symptoms (DT checklist), which correlated with ethnic differences in depressive symptoms especially at 3 months.
Health professionals need to be aware of a greater probability of depressive symptomatology (including somatic symptoms) and how this may present clinically in the first 9 months after diagnosis if this ethnic disparity in mental well-being is to be addressed.
Mental Health; Ethnicity; Depression
Determine whether adults with hepatitis C, regardless of substance use disorder, are more likely to discount delayed rewards than adults without hepatitis C, and explore the relationship between delay discounting and neuropsychological functioning.
Procedures included clinical interviews, neuropsychological testing, and a delay discounting task.
Regardless of substance abuse history, adults with hepatitis C were significantly more likely to choose smaller immediate rewards over larger delayed rewards. Delay discounting correlated with performance on executive functioning tasks.
Increased discounting is associated with broad executive dysfunction, suggesting that HCV associated executive dysfunction may lead to altered decision making style.
hepatitis C; neuropsychology; impulsive behavior; substance-related disorders; delay discounting
Systems for efficient case finding of women with major depression during pregnancy and postpartum are needed. Here we assess the diagnostic accuracy of a modified 2-item patient health questionnaire (PHQ-2) as a pre-screen in assessing depression.
Cross-sectional assessments at 15 weeks’ gestation (n = 414), 30 weeks’ gestation (n = 334), and 6 to 16 weeks postpartum (n = 193) among women from a diverse set of races/ethnicities, participating in the IMPLICIT maternal care quality improvement network. The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale score (≥13) was used as the criterion measure for the PHQ-2.
A positive 2-item screen had sensitivity of 93%, 82%, and 80% and specificity of 75%, 80%, and 86% for Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale score of ≥13 for assessment at 15 and 30 weeks gestational age and postpartum, respectively. The positive/negative predictive values for the PHQ-2 were 44/98, 24/91, and 30/98 for each time point, respectively. Areas under the receiver operating characteristic curve analysis suggested that 2-item assessments at each time point had approximately equal diagnostic validity.
Two questions were efficient to rule out depression and reduced the need for further screening of approximately 60% to 80% of women, depending on the point in pregnancy or postpartum. A diagnostic interview follow-up of women screening positive is still required.
The purpose of the present study was to estimate the prevalence of depression in Chinese university students, and to identify the socio-demographic factors associated with depression in this population. A multi-stage stratified sampling procedure was used to select university students (N = 5245) in Harbin (Heilongjiang Province, Northeastern China), who were aged 16–35 years. The Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) was used to determine depressive symptoms of the participants. BDI scores of 14 or higher were categorized as depressive for logistic regression analysis. Depression was diagnosed by the Structured Clinical Interview (SCID) for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-Fourth Edition (DSM-IV). 11.7% of the participants had a BDI score 14 or higher. Major Depressive Disorder was seen in 4.0% of Chinese university students. There were no statistical differences in the incidence of depression when gender, ethnicity, and university classification were analyzed. Multivariate analysis showed that age, study year, satisfaction with major, family income situation, parental relationship and mother's education were significantly associated with depression. Moderate depression is prevalent in Chinese university students. The students who were older, dissatisfied with their major, had a lower family income, poor parental relationships, and a lower level of mother's education were susceptible to depression.
Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most prevalent neurodegenerative disorders. However, there is no current treatment, which definitively influences disease progression over a sustained period. Numerous studies linking an increase in serum cholesterol, mainly during midlife, with the pathogenic process of Alzheimer’s disease have been published. Therefore, the role of statins as a therapy in this disorder may be of great interest. The aim of the present review is to summarize of the role of statins in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
animal models; epidemiology; HMGCoA-inhibitors; clinical trials; prevention; cognitive function
Depression is more likely in patients with chronic physical illness, and is associated with increased rates of disability and mortality. Effective treatment of depression may reduce morbidity and mortality. The use of two stem questions for case finding in diabetes and coronary heart disease is advocated in the Quality and Outcomes Framework, and has become normalised into primary care.
To define the most effective tool for use in consultations to detect depression in people with chronic physical illness.
The following data sources were searched: CENTRAL, CINAHL, Embase, HMIC, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, Web of Knowledge, from inception to July 2009. Three authors selected studies that examined identification tools and used an interview-based ICD (International Classification of Diseases) or DSM (Diagnostic and statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) diagnosis of depression as reference standard. At least two authors independently extracted study characteristics and outcome data and assessed methodological quality.
A total of 113 studies met the eligibility criteria, providing data on 20 826 participants. It was found that two stem questions, PHQ-9 (Patient Health Questionnaire), the Zung, and GHQ-28 (General Health Questionnaire) were the optimal measures for case identification, but no method was sufficiently accurate to recommend as a definitive case-finding tool. Limitations were the moderate-to-high heterogeneity for most scales and the facts that few studies used ICD diagnoses as the reference standard, and that a variety of methods were used to determine DSM diagnoses.
Assessing both validity and ease of use, the two stem questions are the preferred method. However, clinicians should not rely on the two-questions approach alone, but should be confident to engage in a more detailed clinical assessment of patients who score positively.
depression; diagnosis; meta-analysis; primary care
Genome3D, available at http://www.genome3d.eu, is a new collaborative project that integrates UK-based structural resources to provide a unique perspective on sequence–structure–function relationships. Leading structure prediction resources (DomSerf, FUGUE, Gene3D, pDomTHREADER, Phyre and SUPERFAMILY) provide annotations for UniProt sequences to indicate the locations of structural domains (structural annotations) and their 3D structures (structural models). Structural annotations and 3D model predictions are currently available for three model genomes (Homo sapiens, E. coli and baker’s yeast), and the project will extend to other genomes in the near future. As these resources exploit different strategies for predicting structures, the main aim of Genome3D is to enable comparisons between all the resources so that biologists can see where predictions agree and are therefore more trusted. Furthermore, as these methods differ in whether they build their predictions using CATH or SCOP, Genome3D also contains the first official mapping between these two databases. This has identified pairs of similar superfamilies from the two resources at various degrees of consensus (532 bronze pairs, 527 silver pairs and 370 gold pairs).
Methamphetamine (MA) is associated with behavioral and cognitive deficits that may be related to macrostructural abnormalities. Quantitative anatomical comparisons between controls and methamphetamine-dependent individuals have produced conflicting results. We examined local and global differences in brain structure in 61 abstinent methamphetamine-dependent individuals and 44 controls with voxel-based morphometry and tissue segmentation. We related regional differences in gray matter density and whole brain segmentation volumes to performance on a behavioral measure of impulsivity and group membership using multiple linear regression. Within the MA group, we related cortical and subcortical gray matter density to MA use history, length of abstinence and age of first use. Controls had greater density relative to MA in bilateral insula and left middle frontal gyrus. Impulsivity was higher in the MA group and, within all subjects, impulsivity was positively correlated with gray matter density in posterior cingulate cortex and ventral striatum and negatively correlated in left superior frontal gyrus. Length of abstinence from MA was associated with greater amygdalar density. Earlier age of first use of MA (in subjects who initiated use before age 21) was associated with smaller intracranial volume. The findings are consistent with multiple possible mechanisms including neuroadaptations due to addictive behavior, neuroinflammation as well as dopaminergic and serotonergic neurotoxicity.
Several thousand metagenomes have already been sequenced, and this number is set to grow rapidly in the forthcoming years as the uptake of high-throughput sequencing technologies continues. Hand-in-hand with this data bonanza comes the computationally overwhelming task of analysis. Herein, we describe some of the bioinformatic approaches currently used by metagenomics researchers to analyze their data, the issues they face and the steps that could be taken to help overcome these challenges.
metagenomics; next-generation sequencing (NGS); high-throughput sequencing (HTS); functional analysis; environmental bioinformatics
The PRINTS database, now in its 21st year, houses a collection of diagnostic protein family ‘fingerprints’. Fingerprints are groups of conserved motifs, evident in multiple sequence alignments, whose unique inter-relationships provide distinctive signatures for particular protein families and structural/functional domains. As such, they may be used to assign uncharacterized sequences to known families, and hence to infer tentative functional, structural and/or evolutionary relationships. The February 2012 release (version 42.0) includes 2156 fingerprints, encoding 12 444 individual motifs, covering a range of globular and membrane proteins, modular polypeptides and so on. Here, we report the current status of the database, and introduce a number of recent developments that help both to render a variety of our annotation and analysis tools easier to use and to make them more widely available.
There are international differences in the epidemiology of depression and the performance of primary care physicians but the factors underlying these national differences are uncertain.
To examine the international variability in diagnostic performance of primary care physicians when diagnosing depression in primary care.
Design of study
A meta-analysis of unassisted clinical diagnoses against semi-structured interviews.
A systematic literature search, critical appraisal, and pooled analysis were conducted and 25 international studies were identified involving 8917 individuals. A minimum of three independent studies per country were required to aid extrapolation.
Clinicians in the Netherlands performed best at case finding (the ability to rule in cases of depression with minimal false positives) (AUC+ 0.735) and this was statistically significantly better than the ability of clinicians in Australia (AUC+ 0.622) and the US (AUC+ 0.653), who were the worst performers. Clinicians from Italy had intermediate case-finding abilities. Regarding screening (the ability to rule out cases of no depression with minimal false negatives) there were no strong differences. Looking at overall accuracy, primary care physicians in Italy and the Netherlands were most successful in their diagnoses and physicians from the US and Australia least successful (83.5%, 81.9%, 74.3%, and 67.0%, respectively). GPs in the UK appeared to have the lowest ability to detect depression, as a proportion of all cases of depression (45.6%; 95% CI = 27.7% to 64.2%). Several factors influenced detection accuracy including: collecting data on clinical outcomes; routinely comparing the clinical performance of staff; working in small practices; and having long waits to see a specialist.
Assuming these differences are representative, there appear to be international variations in the ability of primary care physicians to diagnose depression, but little differences in screening success. These might be explained by organisational factors.
depression; diagnostic accuracy; international; screening; sensitivity
InterPro amalgamates predictive protein signatures from a number of well-known partner databases into a single resource. To aid with interpretation of results, InterPro entries are manually annotated with terms from the Gene Ontology (GO). The InterPro2GO mappings are comprised of the cross-references between these two resources and are the largest source of GO annotation predictions for proteins. Here, we describe the protocol by which InterPro curators integrate GO terms into the InterPro database. We discuss the unique challenges involved in integrating specific GO terms with entries that may describe a diverse set of proteins, and we illustrate, with examples, how InterPro hierarchies reflect GO terms of increasing specificity. We describe a revised protocol for GO mapping that enables us to assign GO terms to domains based on the function of the individual domain, rather than the function of the families in which the domain is found. We also discuss how taxonomic constraints are dealt with and those cases where we are unable to add any appropriate GO terms. Expert manual annotation of InterPro entries with GO terms enables users to infer function, process or subcellular information for uncharacterized sequences based on sequence matches to predictive models.
http://www.ebi.ac.uk/interpro. The complete InterPro2GO mappings are available at: ftp://ftp.ebi.ac.uk/pub/databases/GO/goa/external2go/interpro2go
InterPro (http://www.ebi.ac.uk/interpro/) is a database that integrates diverse information about protein families, domains and functional sites, and makes it freely available to the public via Web-based interfaces and services. Central to the database are diagnostic models, known as signatures, against which protein sequences can be searched to determine their potential function. InterPro has utility in the large-scale analysis of whole genomes and meta-genomes, as well as in characterizing individual protein sequences. Herein we give an overview of new developments in the database and its associated software since 2009, including updates to database content, curation processes and Web and programmatic interfaces.
With increasing globalisation, the challenges of providing accessible and safe healthcare to all are great. Studies show that there are substantial numbers of people who are not fluent in English to a level where they can make best use of health services. We examined how health professionals manage language barriers in a consultation.
Methods and Findings
This was a cross-sectional study in 41 UK general practices . Health professionals completed a proforma for a randomly allocated consultation session.
Seventy-seven (63%) practitioners responded, from 41(59%) practices. From 1008 consultations, 555 involved patients who did not have English as a first language; 710 took place in English; 222 were in other languages, the practitioner either communicating with the patient in their own language/using an alternative language. Seven consultations were in a mixture of English/patient's own language. Patients' first languages numbered 37 (apart from English), in contrast to health practitioners, who declared at least a basic level of proficiency in 22 languages other than English. The practitioner's reported proficiency in the language used was at a basic level in 24 consultations, whereas in 21, they reported having no proficiency at all. In 57 consultations, a relative/friend interpreted and in 6, a bilingual member of staff/community worker was used. Only in 6 cases was a professional interpreter booked. The main limitation was that only one random session was selected and assessment of patient/professional fluency in English was subjective.
It would appear that professional interpreters are under-used in relation to the need for them, with bilingual staff/family and friends being used commonly. In many cases where the patient spoke little/no English, the practitioner consulted in the patient's language but this approach was also used where reported practitioner proficiency was low. Further research in different setting is needed to substantiate these findings.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of mortality among patients with serious mental illness (SMI) and the prevalence of metabolic syndrome—a constellation of cardiovascular risk factors—is significantly higher in these patients than in the general population. Metabolic monitoring among patients using second generation antipsychotics (SGAs)—a risk factor for metabolic syndrome—has been shown to be inadequate despite the release of several guidelines. However, patients with SMI have several factors independent of medication use that predispose them to a higher prevalence of metabolic syndrome. Our study therefore examines monitoring and prevalence of metabolic syndrome in patients with SMI, including those not using SGAs.
Methods and Findings
We retrospectively identified all patients treated at a Veterans Affairs Medical Center with diagnoses of schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder or bipolar disorder during 2005–2006 and obtained demographic and clinical data. Incomplete monitoring of metabolic syndrome was defined as being unable to determine the status of at least one of the syndrome components. Of the 1,401 patients included (bipolar disorder: 822; schizophrenia: 222; and schizoaffective disorder: 357), 21.4% were incompletely monitored. Only 54.8% of patients who were not prescribed SGAs and did not have previous diagnoses of hypertension or hypercholesterolemia were monitored for all metabolic syndrome components compared to 92.4% of patients who had all three of these characteristics. Among patients monitored for metabolic syndrome completely, age-adjusted prevalence of the syndrome was 48.4%, with no significant difference between the three psychiatric groups.
Only one half of patients with SMI not using SGAs or previously diagnosed with hypertension and hypercholesterolemia were completely monitored for metabolic syndrome components compared to greater than 90% of those with these characteristics. With the high prevalence of metabolic syndrome seen in this population, there appears to be a need to intensify efforts to reduce this monitoring gap.
Given the uncertainty about factors that influence receipt of Clinical Excellence Awards (CEA) and recent availability of advanced research metrics, we examined the factors that predict CEA success using a convenience sample of English psychiatrists.
Observational study examining region, subspecialty, H-index, M-index, number of publications, years since registration and years in specialty.
ACCEA Nominal Roll, cross-referenced with data from the GMC's list of registered medical practitioners and Thompson's Web of Science database.
A total of 494 psychiatrists including 245 with national levels awards and a random sample with local level awards.
Main outcome measures
Receipt of local or national CEA awards in 2008 and 2009.
Of those with national awards, 126 had university contracts and 119 NHS contracts. Across all staff, years since qualification in medicine and H-index were the dominant influences. For local awards we found that years worked in the specialty was the main predictor of a CEA award with a smaller contribution from H-index. For national awards to university staff (academics) years on the medical register and publication rate were significant predictors. For national awards to NHS staff (non-academics) H-index and total cites were predictive, but these were themselves related to age.
Progression in CEAs among psychiatrists is strongly influenced by age (years spent in specialty and years on the medical register) with an additional contribution from research productivity. Currently, research impact is crudely assessed in the CEA process. We suggest that CEA committees formally assess the impact of NHS-related research using standardized research metrics which are openly available. We also suggest that supporting organizations and local trusts adhere to the rules mandated by the ACCEA.
Prospective memory (ProM) is the ability to become aware of a previously-formed plan at the right time and place. For over twenty years, researchers have been debating whether prospective memory declines with aging or whether it is spared by aging and, most recently, whether aging spares prospective memory with focal vs. non-focal cues. Two recent meta-analyses examining these claims did not include all relevant studies and ignored prevalent ceiling effects, age confounds, and did not distinguish between prospective memory subdomains (e.g., ProM proper, vigilance, habitual ProM) (see Uttl, 2008, PLoS ONE). The present meta-analysis focuses on the following questions: Does prospective memory decline with aging? Does prospective memory with focal vs. non-focal cues decline with aging? Does the size of age-related declines with focal vs. non-focal cues vary across ProM subdomains? And are age-related declines in ProM smaller than age-related declines in retrospective memory?
Methods and Findings
A meta-analysis of event-cued ProM using data visualization and modeling, robust count methods, and conventional meta-analysis techniques revealed that first, the size of age-related declines in ProM with both focal and non-focal cues are large. Second, age-related declines in ProM with focal cues are larger in ProM proper and smaller in vigilance. Third, age-related declines in ProM proper with focal cues are as large as age-related declines in recall measures of retrospective memory.
The results are consistent with Craik's (1983) proposal that age-related declines on ProM tasks are generally large, support the distinction between ProM proper vs. vigilance, and directly contradict widespread claims that ProM, with or without focal cues, is spared by aging.
The hospital anxiety and depression scale (HADS) is a widely used instrument for evaluating psychological distress from anxiety and depression. HADS has not yet been validated in Ethiopia. The aim of this study was to evaluate the reliability and validity of the Amharic (Ethiopian language) version of HADs among HIV infected patients.
The translated scale was administered to 302 HIV/AIDS patients on follow up for and taking anti-retroviral treatment. Consistency assessment was conducted using Cronbach's alpha, test-retest reliability using intra-class correlation coefficients (ICC). Construct validity was examined using principal components analysis (PCA). Parallel analysis, Kaiser's criterion and the scree test were used for factor extraction.
The internal consistency was 0.78 for the anxiety, 0.76 for depression subscales and 0.87 for the full scale of HADS. The intra-class correlation coefficient (ICC) was 80%, 86%, and 84% for the anxiety and depression subscales, and total score respectively. PCA revealed a one dimensional scale.
This preliminary validation study of the Ethiopian version of the HADs indicates that it has promising acceptability, reliability and validity. The adopted scale has a single underlying dimension as indicated by Razavi's model. The HADS can be used to examine psychological distress in HIV infected patients. Findings are discussed and recommendations made.
Background: Despite disproportionately high rates of hepatitis C (HCV) among patients with severe mental illness, to date, there is scant empirical data available regarding antiviral therapy outcomes within this population. Objective: To compare antiviral therapy completion and response rates between HCV patients with vs those without schizophrenia (SCHZ). Methods: A regional Veterans Healthcare Administration database was used to identify veterans meeting criteria for this retrospective chart review. All patients confirmed to have SCHZ and to have received antiviral therapy between 1998 and 2006 (n = 30) were compared with a control group of demographically matched (HCV genotype, age, race, gender) patients with no history of SCHZ (n = 30). Results: For HCV patients with genotype 1, antiviral completion, end of treatment response (ETR), and sustained viral response (SVR) rates did not significantly differ between groups. For those with genotypes 2 and 3 combined, antiviral therapy completion rates did not significantly differ between groups; however, the SCHZ group was significantly (P < 0.050) more likely to achieve an ETR and an SVR. For all genotypes combined, the SCHZ patients were no more likely than controls to discontinue therapy early for psychiatric symptoms, medical complications, or other adverse events, and groups did not significantly differ in terms of hospitalization rates during antiviral therapy. Conclusion: Our retrospective chart review suggests that patients with SCHZ complete and respond to antiviral therapy for HCV at rates comparable with those without SCHZ. Based on these data, SCHZ should not be considered a contraindication to antiviral therapy for HCV.
interferon; mental disorders; psychotic disorders; adverse effects
Antiviral therapy for chronic infection with HCV is associated with significant neuropsychiatric side effects. Research indicates that patients with mental illness are less likely to receive antiviral therapy, despite limited data regarding the influence of antiviral therapy on psychiatric symptoms in patients with specific psychiatric disorders. The aim of this study was to determine whether antiviral therapy is associated with higher rates of psychiatric symptoms in patients with schizophrenia (SCHZ).
A regional Veterans Healthcare Administration database was used to identify veterans meeting criteria for this retrospective chart review. Patients confirmed to have SCHZ and to have received antiviral therapy for HCV between 1998 and 2006 (n=30) were compared with a control group of demographically matched (age, race and gender) patients with SCHZ who did not receive antiviral therapy (n=30). Clinicians blinded to antiviral therapy status used chart notes to evaluate whether patients exhibited prominent symptoms of SCHZ, depression or mania during a 6 month pre-treatment period, the treatment period and a 6 month post-treatment period (or during equivalent periods for the control group).
Groups did not significantly differ in rates of symptoms of SCHZ, depression or mania during any study period. During the treatment period, groups did not significantly differ in rates of emergency room visits or inpatient hospitalizations.
Our retrospective chart review suggests that patients with SCHZ experience similar rates of psychiatric symptoms on and off antiviral therapy. Despite limitations and constraints of the methods, our data suggest that SCHZ is not a contraindication to antiviral therapy for HCV.
We have previously documented inequalities in the quality of medical care provided to those with mental ill health but the implications for mortality are unclear. We aimed to test whether disparities in medical treatment of cardiovascular conditions, specifically receipt of medical procedures and receipt of prescribed medication, are linked with elevated rates of mortality in people with schizophrenia and severe mental illness. We undertook a systematic review of studies that examined medical procedures and a pooled analysis of prescribed medication in those with and without comorbid mental illness, focusing on those which recruited individuals with schizophrenia and measured mortality as an outcome. From 17 studies of treatment adequacy in cardiovascular conditions, eight examined cardiac procedures and nine examined adequacy of prescribed cardiac medication. Six of eight studies examining the adequacy of cardiac procedures found lower than average provision of medical care and two studies found no difference. Meta-analytic pooling of nine medication studies showed lower than average rates of prescribing evident for the following individual classes of medication; angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors (n = 6, aOR = 0.779, 95% CI = 0.638–0.950, p = 0.0137), beta-blockers (n = 9, aOR = 0.844, 95% CI = 0.690–1.03, p = 0.1036) and statins (n = 5, aOR = 0.604, 95% CI = 0.408–0.89, p = 0.0117). No inequality was evident for aspirin (n = 7, aOR = 0.986, 95% CI = 0.7955–1.02, p = 0.382). Interestingly higher than expected prescribing was found for older non-statin cholesterol-lowering agents (n = 4, aOR = 1.55, 95% CI = 1.04–2.32, p = 0.0312). A search for outcomes in this sample revealed ten studies linking poor quality of care and possible effects on mortality in specialist settings. In half of the studies there was significantly higher mortality in those with mental ill health compared with controls but there was inadequate data to confirm a causative link. Nevertheless, indirect evidence supports the observation that deficits in quality of care are contributing to higher than expected mortality in those with severe mental illness (SMI) and schizophrenia. The quality of medical treatment provided to those with cardiac conditions and comorbid schizophrenia is often suboptimal and may be linked with avoidable excess mortality. Every effort should be made to deliver high-quality medical care to people with severe mental illness.
Mortality; quality of care; schizophrenia; severe mental illness; substance abuse
Accelerated leukocyte telomere shortening has been previously associated to self-perceived stress and psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia and mood disorders. We set out to investigate whether telomere length is affected in patients with anxiety disorders in which stress is a known risk factor. We also studied the effects of childhood and recent psychological distress on telomere length. We utilized samples from the nationally representative population-based Health 2000 Survey that was carried out between 2000–2001 in Finland to assess major public health problems and their determinants. We measured the relative telomere length of the peripheral blood cells by quantitative real-time PCR from 321 individuals with DSM-IV anxiety disorder or subthreshold diagnosis and 653 matched controls aged 30–87 years, who all had undergone the Composite International Diagnostic Interview. While telomere length did not differ significantly between cases and controls in the entire cohort, the older half of the anxiety disorder patients (48–87 years) exhibited significantly shorter telomeres than healthy controls of the same age (P = 0.013). Interestingly, shorter telomere length was also associated with a greater number of reported childhood adverse life events, among both the anxiety disorder cases and controls (P = 0.005). Childhood chronic or serious illness was the most significantly associated single event affecting telomere length at the adult age (P = 0.004). Self-reported current psychological distress did not affect telomere length. Our results suggest that childhood stress might lead to accelerated telomere shortening seen at the adult age. This finding has potentially important implications supporting the view that childhood adversities might have a considerable impact on well being later in life.