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author:("vaginum, Per")
1.  Corrigendum: “Ten year neurocognitive trajectories in first-episode psychosis” 
PMCID: PMC4032939
neurocognition; psychosis spectrum disorders; first-episode; longitudinal studies; neuropsychiatry
2.  A few more minutes make a difference? The relationship between content and length of GP consultations 
Objectives. To investigate the relationship between the length of a medical consultation in a general practice setting and the biopsychosocial information obtained by the physician, and to explore the characteristics of young physicians obtaining comprehensive, especially psychosocial information. Design. A prospective, longitudinal follow-up study. Setting. Videotaped consultations with standardized patients on two occasions were scored for the amount of biopsychosocial information obtained. Consultation length was recorded in minutes. Subjects. Final-year (T-1) medical school students (n = 111) participated in the project. On completion of their internship one and a half years later (T-2), 62 attended a second time, as young physicians. Main outcome measures. Content lists. Results. Pearson's r correlations between content and length at T-1 and T-2 were 0.27 and 0.66, respectively (non-overlapping confidence intervals). Psychosocial content increased significantly when consultations exceeded 13 minutes (15 minutes scheduled). Physicians using more than 13 minutes had previously, as hospital interns, perceived more stress in the emergency room and had worked in local hospitals. Conclusions. A strong association was found between consultation length and information, especially psychosocial information, obtained by the physicians at internship completion. This finding should be considered by faculty members and organizers of the internship period. Further research is needed to detect when, during the educational process, increased emphasis on communication skills training would be most beneficial for students/residents, and how the medical curriculum and internship period should be designed to optimize young physicians’ use of time in consultations.
PMCID: PMC3587298  PMID: 23282010
Consultation content; consultation length; general practice; medical students; Norway; physicians; psychosocial
3.  Ten year neurocognitive trajectories in first-episode psychosis 
Objective: Neurocognitive impairment is commonly reported at onset of psychotic disorders. However, the long-term neurocognitive course remains largely uninvestigated in first episode psychosis (FEP) and the relationship to clinically significant subgroups even more so. We report 10 year longitudinal neurocognitive development in a sample of FEP patients, and explore whether the trajectories of cognitive course are related to presence of relapse to psychosis, especially within the first year, with a focus on the course of verbal memory.
Method: Forty-three FEP subjects (51% male, 28 ± 9 years) were followed-up neurocognitively over five assessments spanning 10 years. The test battery was divided into four neurocognitive indices; Executive Function, Verbal Learning, Motor Speed, and Verbal Fluency. The sample was grouped into those relapsing or not within the first, second and fifth year.
Results: The four neurocognitive indices showed overall stability over the 10 year period. Significant relapse by index interactions were found for all indices except Executive Function. Follow-up analyses identified a larger significant decrease over time for the encoding measure within Verbal Memory for patients with psychotic relapse in the first year [F(4, 38) = 5.8, p = 0.001, η2 = 0.40].
Conclusions: Main findings are long-term stability in neurocognitive functioning in FEP patients, with the exception of verbal memory in patients with psychotic relapse or non-remission early in the course of illness. We conclude that worsening of specific parts of cognitive function may be expected for patients with on-going psychosis, but that the majority of patients do not show significant change in cognitive performance during the first 10 years after being diagnosed.
PMCID: PMC3791439  PMID: 24109449
neurocognition; longitudinal; first-episode psychosis; relapse; verbal memory
4.  The impact of change in a doctor's job position: a five-year cohort study of job satisfaction among Norwegian doctors 
Job satisfaction among physicians may be of importance to their individual careers and their work with patients. We lack prospective studies on whether a change in a doctor's job position influences their job satisfaction over a five-year period if we control for other workload factors.
A longitudinal national cohort of all physicians who graduated in Norway in 1993 and 1994 was surveyed by postal questionnaire in 2003 (T1) and 2008 (T2). Outcomes were measured with a 10-item job satisfaction scale. Predictor variables in a multiple regression model were: change in job position, reduction in work-home interface stress, reduction in work hours, age, and gender.
A total of 59% of subjects (306/522) responded at both time points. The mean value of job satisfaction in the total sample increased from 51.6 (SD = 9.0) at T1 to 53.4 (SD = 8.2) at T2 (paired t test, t = 3.8, p < 0.001). The major groups or positions at T1 were senior house officers (45%), chief specialists in hospitals (23%), and general practitioners (17%), and the latter showed the highest levels of job satisfaction. Physicians who changed position during the period (n = 176) experienced an increase in job satisfaction from 49.5 (SD = 8.4) in 2003 to 52.9 (SD = 7.5) in 2008 (paired t test, t = 5.2, p < 0.001). Job satisfaction remained unchanged for physicians who stayed in the same position. There was also an increase in satisfaction among those who changed from positions other than senior house officer at T1 (p < 0.01). The significant adjusted predictor variables in the multiple regression model were the change in position from senior house officer at T1 to any other position (β = 2.83, p < 0.001), any change in job position (from any position except SHO at T1) (β = 4.18, p < 0.01) and reduction in work-home interface stress (β = 1.04, p < 0.001).
The physicians experienced an increase in job satisfaction over a five-year period, which was predicted by a change in job position and a reduction in work-home stress. This study has implications with respect to career advice for young doctors.
PMCID: PMC3342917  PMID: 22340521
5.  Contrasting Monosymptomatic Patients with Hallucinations and Delusions in First-Episode Psychosis Patients: A Five-Year Longitudinal Follow-Up Study 
Psychopathology  2011;44(2):90-97.
The main aim of this study was to identify subgroups of patients characterized by having hallucinations only or delusions only and to examine whether these groups differed with regard to demographic characteristics, clinical characteristics and outcome factors, including suicidality.
Out of 301 consecutively admitted patients with first-episode psychosis, individuals with delusions only (D) and hallucinations only (H) were identified based on Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) items P1 (delusions) and P3 (hallucinations) scores at baseline and through 4 follow-up interviews over 5 years. The subgroups were compared with regard to demographic data, premorbid functioning, duration of untreated psychosis, clinical variables, time to remission and suicidality.
Two groups of patients were identified; H (n = 16) and D (n = 106). 179 patients experienced both hallucinations and delusions (dual symptom group). The H group was significantly younger, had a longer duration of untreated psychosis, poorer premorbid function and better insight than the D group. Notably, the H group scored higher on measures of suicidality, and at 5 years follow-up a significantly higher proportion of patients was lost to suicide in this group. The dual symptom group was closer to the D group on significant parameters, including suicidality and suicide rate.
Patients with hallucinations only can be separated from patients with delusions only and the subgroups differ with regard to demographical data, clinical variables and notably with regard to suicidality. These findings suggest distinctions in the underlying biological and psychological processes involved in hallucinations and in delusions.
PMCID: PMC3031149  PMID: 21228615
Hallucinations; Delusions; Psychotic symptoms; Suicide
6.  The Key to Reducing Duration of Untreated First Psychosis: Information Campaigns 
Schizophrenia Bulletin  2007;34(3):466-472.
The TIPS early intervention program reduced the duration of untreated psychosis (DUP) in first-episode schizophrenia from 16 to 5 weeks in a health care sector using a combination of easy access detection teams (DTs) and a massive information campaign (IC) about the signs and symptoms of psychosis. This study reports what happens to DUP and presenting schizophrenia in the same health care sector when the IC is stopped. Methods: Using an historical control design, we compare 2 cohorts of patients with first-episode Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, non-affective psychosis at admission to treatment. The first cohort (N = 108) was recruited from January 1997 to December 2000, using an IC to raise awareness about recognizing psychosis to the public, the schools, and to general practitioners. The second cohort (N = 75) was recruited from January 2002 to June 2004 with no-IC. Easy access DTs were available to both cohorts. Results: In the no-IC period, DUP increased back up to 15 weeks (median) and fewer patients came to clinical attention through the DTs. No-IC patients were diagnosed less frequently with schizophreniform disorder, more Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale positive and total symptoms, and poorer Global Assessment of Functioning (symptom) Scale scores. Conclusions: Intensive education campaigns toward the general public, the schools, and the primary health care services appear to be an important and necessary part of an early detection program. When such a campaign was stopped, there was a clear regressive change in help-seeking behavior with an increase in DUP and baseline symptoms.
PMCID: PMC2632428  PMID: 17905788
first-episode psychosis; early intervention; schizophrenia
7.  Observed communication skills: how do they relate to the consultation content? A nation-wide study of graduate medical students seeing a standardized patient for a first-time consultation in a general practice setting 
In this study, we wanted to investigate the relationship between background variables, communication skills, and the bio-psychosocial content of a medical consultation in a general practice setting with a standardized patient.
Final-year medical school students (N = 111) carried out a consultation with an actor playing the role of a patient with a specific somatic complaint, psychosocial stressors, and concerns about cancer. Based on videotapes, communication skills and consultation content were scored separately.
The mean level of overall communication skills had a significant impact upon the counts of psychosocial issues, the patient's concerns about cancer, and the information and planning parts of the consultation content being addressed. Gender and age had no influence upon the relationship between communication skills and consultation content.
Communication skills seem to be important for final-year students' competence in addressing sensitive psychosocial issues and patients' concerns as well as informing and planning with patients being representative for a fairly complex case in general practice. This result should be considered in the design and incorporation of communication skills training as part of the curriculum of medical schools.
PMCID: PMC2213643  PMID: 17996053
8.  Curriculum factors influencing knowledge of communication skills among medical students 
Communication training builds on the assumption that understanding of the concepts related to professional communication facilitates the training. We know little about whether students' knowledge of clinical communication skills is affected by their attendance of communication training courses, or to what degree other elements of the clinical training or curriculum design also play a role. The aim of this study was to determine which elements of the curriculum influence acquisition of knowledge regarding clinical communication skills by medical students.
The study design was a cross-sectional survey performed in the four Norwegian medical schools with different curricula, spring 2003. A self-administered questionnaire regarding knowledge of communication skills (an abridged version of van Dalen's paper-and-pencil test) was sent to all students attending the four medical schools. A total of 1801 (59%) students responded with complete questionnaires.
At the end of the 1st year of study, the score on the knowledge test was higher in students at the two schools running communication courses and providing early patient contact (mean 81%) than in the other two medical schools (mean 69–75%, P ≤ 0.001), with students studying a traditional curriculum scoring the lowest. Their scores increased sharply towards the end of the 3rd year, during which they had been subjected to extensive patient contact and had participated in an intensive communication course (77% vs. 72% the previous year, P ≤ 0.01). All students scored generally lower in academic years in which there was no communication training. However, at the end of the final year the difference between the schools was only 5% (81% vs. 86%, P ≤ 0.001).
The acquisition of knowledge regarding communication skills by medical students may be optimised when the training is given together with extensive supervised patient contact, especially if this teaching takes place in the initial years of the curriculum.
PMCID: PMC2089059  PMID: 17925041
9.  Predictors of suicide attempters in substance-dependent patients: a six-year prospective follow-up 
This is a six-year prospective follow-up of a former cross sectional study of suicide attempters in a sample of treatment-seeking substance-dependent patients. The aims were to explore the frequency of patients with new suicide attempts (SA) during the six-year observation period, and to explore the predictive value of lifetime Axis I and II disorders, measured at index admission, on SA in the observation period, when age, gender and substance-use variables, measured both at admission and at follow-up, were controlled for.
A consecutive sample of 156 alcohol-dependent and 131 poly-substance-dependent inpatients and outpatients in two Norwegian counties were assessed at index admission (T1) with the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (Axis I disorders), Mon's Clinical Multiaxial Inventory (Axis II disorders) and Hopkins Symptom Checklist-25 (mental distress). At follow-up six years later (T2), 56% (160/287 subjects, 29% women) were assessed using the HSCL-25 and measures of harmful substance use (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test and Drug Use Disorders Identification Test).
The prevalence of patients with SA between T1 and T2 was 19% (30/160), with no difference between sexes or between patient type (alcohol-dependent versus poly-substance-dependent). Sober patients also attempted suicide. At the index admission, lifetime eating disorders, agoraphobia with and without panic disorder, and major depression were significantly and independently associated with SA. Prospectively, only lifetime dysthymia increased the risk of SA during the following six years, whereas lifetime generalized anxiety disorder reduced the risk of SA. Individually, neither the numbers of Axis I and Axis II disorders nor the sum of these disorders were independently related to SA in the observation period. Substance use measured at T1 did not predict SA in the follow-up period, nor did harmful use of substances at follow-up or in the preceding year.
A high prevalence of SA was found six years later, both in patients still abusing substances and in sober patients. To prevent SA, treatment of both affective disorders and substance abuse is important.
PMCID: PMC2098764  PMID: 17927822
10.  Early Detection of First-Episode Psychosis: The Effect on 1-Year Outcome 
Schizophrenia Bulletin  2006;32(4):758-764.
Early intervention is assumed to improve outcome in first-episode psychosis, but this has not been proven. Objective: To study whether 1-year outcome will be better in a health care sector with early detection (ED) of psychosis compared with sectors with no early detection (no-ED). Design: a quasi-experimental study with ED in 2 experimental sectors and no-ED in 2 control sectors. ED was achieved through low-threshold ED teams and information campaigns about psychosis for the public, schools, and primary health care providers. The ED and no-ED health care areas offered an equivalent assessment and treatment program during the first year. Two hundred and eighty-one patients were included; 88% were reassessed after 1 year. Results: The ED-area patients (N = 141) had a median duration of untreated psychosis of 5 weeks at baseline compared with 16 weeks for patients in the no-ED area (N = 140). Positive and general symptoms, global assessment of functioning, quality of life, time to remission, and course of psychosis at 1 year after the start of treatment were not different between ED and no-ED groups. Outcome was significantly better for the ED area for negative symptoms. Conclusions: The ED, no-ED differences at baseline become attenuated by 1 year but not the difference in negative symptoms, suggesting secondary prevention in this domain of psychopathology. However, this possibility requires further testing by follow-up and replication.
PMCID: PMC2632264  PMID: 16809640
psychosis; schizophrenia; early detection; outcome
11.  Axis I and II disorders as long-term predictors of mental distress: a six-year prospective follow-up of substance-dependent patients 
BMC Psychiatry  2007;7:29.
A high prevalence of lifetime psychiatric disorders among help-seeking substance abusers has been clearly established. However, the long-term course of psychiatric disorders and mental distress among help-seeking substance abusers is still unclear. The aim of this research was to examine the course of mental distress using a six-year follow-up study of treatment-seeking substance-dependent patients, and to explore whether lifetime Axis I and II disorders measured at admission predict the level of mental distress at follow-up, when age, sex, and substance-use variables measured both at baseline and at follow-up are controlled for.
A consecutive sample of substance dependent in- and outpatients (n = 287) from two counties of Norway were assessed at baseline (T1) with the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (Axis I), Millon's Clinical Multiaxial Inventory (Axis II), and the Hopkins Symptom Checklist (HSCL-25 (mental distress)). At follow-up (T2), 48% (137/287 subjects, 29% women) were assessed with the HSCL-25, the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test, and the Drug Use Disorders Identification Test.
The stability of mental distress is a main finding and the level of mental distress remained high after six years, but was significantly lower among abstainers at T2, especially among female abstainers. Both the number of and specific lifetime Axis I disorders (social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and somatization disorder), the number of and specific Axis II disorders (anxious and impulsive personality disorders), and the severity of substance-use disorder at the index admission were all independent predictors of a high level of mental distress at follow-up, even when we controlled for age, sex, and substance use at follow-up.
These results underscore the importance of diagnosing and treating both substance-use disorder and non-substance-use disorder Axis I and Axis II disorders in the same programme.
PMCID: PMC1914057  PMID: 17594479
12.  Assessing medical students' attitudes towards learning communication skills – which components of attitudes do we measure? 
The Communication Skills Attitudes Scale (CSAS) created by Rees, Sheard and Davies and published in 2002 has been a widely used instrument for measuring medical students' attitudes towards learning communication skills. Earlier studies have shown that the CSAS mainly tests two dimensions of attitudes towards communication; positive attitudes (PAS) and negative attitudes (NAS). The objectives of our study are to explore the attitudes of Norwegian medical students towards learning communication skills, and to compare our findings with reports from other countries.
The CSAS questionnaire was mailed simultaneously to all students (n = 3055) of the four medical schools in Norway in the spring of 2003. Response from 1833 students (60.0%) were analysed by use of SPSS ver.12.
A Principal component analysis yielded findings that differ in many respects from those of earlier papers. We found the CSAS to measure three factors. The first factor describes students' feelings about the way communication skills are taught, whereas the second factor describes more fundamental attitudes and values connected to the importance of having communication skills for doctors. The third factor explores whether students feel that good communication skills may help them respecting patients and colleagues.
Our findings indicate that in this sample the CSAS measures broader aspects of attitudes towards learning communication skills than the formerly described two-factor model with PAS and NAS. This may turn out to be helpful for monitoring the effect of different teaching strategies on students' attitudes during medical school.
PMCID: PMC1851955  PMID: 17394673
13.  Impact of comorbid psychiatric disorders on the outcome of substance abusers: a six year prospective follow-up in two Norwegian counties 
BMC Psychiatry  2006;6:44.
Most help-seeking substance abusers have comorbid psychiatric disorders. The importance of such disorders for the long-term course of substance abuse is, however, still unclear. The aim of this paper is to describe six-year outcomes regarding death and relapse among alcoholics and poly-substance abusers and to analyse the predictive value of lifetime psychiatric disorders on relapse.
A consecutive sample of substance-dependent patients who received treatment in two counties in Norway (n = 287) was followed up after approximately six years. Information on socio-demographics, Axis I (CIDI) and II disorders (MCMI-II) and mental distress (HSCL-25) was gathered at baseline. At follow-up, detailed information regarding socio-demographics, use of substances (AUDIT and DUDIT) and mental distress (HSCL-25) was recorded (response rate: 63%).
At six-year follow-up, 11% had died, most often male alcoholics (18%). Among the surviving patients, 70% had drug or alcohol related problems the year prior to follow-up. These patients were, classified as "relapsers". There were no significant differences in the relapse rate between women and men and among poly-substance abusers and alcoholics. The relapsers had an earlier onset of a substance use disorder, and more frequently major depression and agoraphobia. Multivariate analysis indicated that both psychiatric disorders (major depression) and substance use factors (early onset of a substance use disorder) were independent predictors of relapse.
For reducing the risk of long-term relapse, assessment and treatment of major depression (and agoraphobia) are important. In addition, we are in need of a comprehensive treatment and rehabilitation program that also focuses on the addictive behaviour.
PMCID: PMC1626456  PMID: 17054775
14.  Life satisfaction and resilience in medical school – a six-year longitudinal, nationwide and comparative study 
This study examined the relationship between life satisfaction among medical students and a basic model of personality, stress and coping. Previous studies have shown relatively high levels of distress, such as symptoms of depression and suicidal thoughts in medical undergraduates. However despite the increased focus on positive psychological health and well-being during the past decades, only a few studies have focused on life satisfaction and coping in medical students. This is the first longitudinal study which has identified predictors of sustained high levels of life satisfaction among medical students.
This longitudinal, nationwide questionnaire study examined the course of life satisfaction during medical school, compared the level of satisfaction of medical students with that of other university students, and identified resilience factors. T-tests were used to compare means of life satisfaction between and within the population groups. K-means cluster analyses were applied to identify subgroups among the medical students. Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) and logistic regression analyses were used to compare the subgroups.
Life satisfaction decreased during medical school. Medical students were as satisfied as other students in the first year of study, but reported less satisfaction in their graduation year. Medical students who sustained high levels of life satisfaction perceived medical school as interfering less with their social and personal life, and were less likely to use emotion focused coping, such as wishful thinking, than their peers.
Medical schools should encourage students to spend adequate time on their social and personal lives and emphasise the importance of health-promoting coping strategies.
PMCID: PMC1592096  PMID: 16984638
15.  Self-prescribing among young Norwegian doctors: a nine-year follow-up study of a nationwide sample 
BMC Medicine  2005;3:16.
Self-prescribing among doctors is common, but no longitudinal studies have documented this issue. We studied the self-prescribing behaviour among young Norwegian physicians and the predictors of self-prescribing.
We conducted a nationwide, prospective and longitudinal study following young Norwegian physicians from internship through the subsequent nine years using three postal questionnaires. Chi-square tests and logistic regression models were applied.
About 54% of the physicians in their fourth and ninth postgraduate years had self-prescribed medication at least once during the previous year. Among those who had used prescription medication during the previous year, about 90% had self-prescribed. Self-prescribing behaviour did not differ significantly between men and women, or according to the type of work at any time. The most frequently self-prescribed medications were antibiotics (71%–81%), contraceptives (24%–25%), analgesics (18%–21%), and hypnotics (9%–12%). Those who had needed treatment for mental problems had self-prescribed hypnotics and sedatives to a greater extent than the others. Being male, having self-prescribed during internship, somatic complaints, mental distress, subjective health complaints, and not having sought help from a general practitioner, were significant adjusted predictors of self-prescribing in the ninth postgraduate year.
The level of self-prescribing among young Norwegian physicians is relatively high, and this behaviour is established early in their professional lives. Although self-prescribing is acceptable in some situations, physicians should seek professional help for illness. Efforts to inculcate more rational help-seeking behaviour should probably start in medical schools.
PMCID: PMC1276798  PMID: 16242034
16.  Which young physicians are satisfied with their work? A prospective nationwide study in Norway 
Few studies have investigated personality and medical school variables in regard to job satisfaction after graduation. It is of great importance to investigate these factors because this information may be used in the recruitment/admittance process to medical schools, and possibly to improve medical education.
We conducted a nationwide prospective 10-year follow-up study of medical students at all medical schools in Norway. They were approached three times during their medical training: at very beginning (T1), in the middle (T2), in the last year of medical school (T3), and then four years after graduation (T4). There were 210 participants who responded on all four occasions. Job satisfaction was measured with the Job Satisfaction Scale, which was used as the outcome variable. In addition to conducting multiple regression analysis for the total sample, we also conducted similar analyses separately for men and women.
Among the demographic and personality variables, 'having a father who is a physician' and 'interpersonal functioning (being withdrawn)' were significantly associated with job satisfaction at T4. Among the medical school variables, 'well-being with peers', 'identification with the doctor's role at the end of curriculum', 'perceived medical school stress', and 'perceived clinical skills' were significantly associated with job satisfaction. In the multiple regression analysis only 'father as a physician' and 'perceived clinical skills' yielded an independent influence on the outcome variable in separate analyses within sub-groups of male and female students, 'perceived clinical skills' differentiated among woman only, while 'well-being with peers' differentiated only among men.
The main finding of this study is that the young physicians who are the most satisfied in their work are those whose fathers are physicians and those who have a high level of perceived clinical skills at the end of medical school. There are also differences in regard to predictors of job satisfaction among men and women. These findings indicate that medical schools should invest substantial effort in clinical skills training, and this seems to be especially important among female students.
PMCID: PMC1164416  PMID: 15932648

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