PMCC PMCC

Search tips
Search criteria

Advanced
Results 1-25 (84)
 

Clipboard (0)
None

Select a Filter Below

Year of Publication
more »
1.  The mental health of the UK Armed Forces: where facts meet fiction 
European Journal of Psychotraumatology  2014;5:10.3402/ejpt.v5.23617.
A substantial amount of research has been conducted into the mental health of the UK military in recent years. This article summarises the results of the various studies and offers possible explanations for differences in findings between the UK and other allied nations. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) rates are perhaps surprisingly low amongst British forces, with prevalence rates of around 4% in personnel who have deployed, rising to 6% in combat troops, despite the high tempo of operations in recent years. The rates in personnel currently on operations are consistently lower than these. Explanations for the lower PTSD prevalence in British troops include variations in combat exposures, demographic differences, higher leader to enlisted soldier ratios, shorter operational tour lengths and differences in access to long-term health care between countries. Delayed-onset PTSD was recently found to be more common than previously supposed, accounting for nearly half of all PTSD cases; however, many of these had sub-syndromal PTSD predating the onset of the full disorder. Rates of common mental health disorders in UK troops are similar or higher to those of the general population, and overall operational deployments are not associated with an increase in mental health problems in UK regular forces. However, there does appear to be a correlation between both deployment and increased alcohol misuse and post-deployment violence in combat troops. Unlike for regular forces, there is an overall association between deployment and mental health problems in Reservists. There have been growing concerns regarding mild traumatic brain injury, though this appears to be low in British troops with an overall prevalence of 4.4% in comparison with 15% in the US military. The current strategies for detection and treatment of mental health problems in British forces are also described. The stance of the UK military is that psychological welfare of troops is primarily a chain of command responsibility, aided by medical advice when necessary, and to this end uses third location decompression, stress briefings, and Trauma Risk Management approaches. Outpatient treatment is provided by Field Mental Health Teams and military Departments of Community Mental Health, whilst inpatient care is given in specific NHS hospitals.
doi:10.3402/ejpt.v5.23617
PMCID: PMC4138705  PMID: 25206948
Military; combat; service personnel; veterans; reservists; post-traumatic stress disorder; delayed-onset PTSD; mild traumatic brain injury; Trauma Risk Management
2.  The role of mentoring in academic career progression: a cross-sectional survey of the Academy of Medical Sciences mentoring scheme 
Summary
Objectives
To describe a successful mentoring scheme designed for mid-career clinician scientists and to examine factors associated with mentee report of positive career impact.
Design
Mixed methods study including in-depth interviews and cross-sectional data collection via an online survey.
Setting
Academy of Medical Sciences mentoring scheme set up in 2002 and evaluated in 2010.
Participants
One hundred and forty-seven of 227 mentees took part in the study (response rate of 65%). Ten mentees, three mentors and eight stakeholders/scheme staff were selected to participate in in-depth interviews.
Main outcome measures
Qualitative data: Interviews were transcribed, and free text was analysed to identify themes and subthemes in the narrative. Quantitative data: We examined the associations of reported positive career impact of mentoring by performing simple and multiple logistic regression analysis.
Results
Mentoring success was determined by a variety of factors including reasons for selection (e.g. presence of a personal recommendation), mentee characteristics (e.g. younger age), experience and skills of the mentor (e.g. ‘mentor helped me to find my own solutions’) and the quality of the relationship (e.g. ‘my mentor and I set out clear expectations early on’).
Conclusions
Our evaluation demonstrates that both mentor and mentee value mentoring and that careful planning of a scheme including preparation, training and ongoing support of both mentor and mentee addressing expectations, building rapport and logistics are likely to be helpful in ensuring success and benefit from the intervention.
doi:10.1177/0141076814530685
PMCID: PMC4128076  PMID: 24739382
mentoring; mentor; career; research; medicine; academic
3.  The role of mentoring in academic career progression: a cross-sectional survey of the Academy of Medical Sciences mentoring scheme 
Summary
Objectives
To describe a successful mentoring scheme designed for mid-career clinician scientists and to examine factors associated with mentee report of positive career impact.
Design
Mixed methods study including in-depth interviews and cross-sectional data collection via an online survey.
Setting
Academy of Medical Sciences mentoring scheme set up in 2002 and evaluated in 2010.
Participants
One hundred and forty-seven of 227 mentees took part in the study (response rate of 65%). Ten mentees, three mentors and eight stakeholders/scheme staff were selected to participate in in-depth interviews.
Main outcome measures
Qualitative data: Interviews were transcribed, and free text was analysed to identify themes and subthemes in the narrative. Quantitative data: We examined the associations of reported positive career impact of mentoring by performing simple and multiple logistic regression analysis.
Results
Mentoring success was determined by a variety of factors including reasons for selection (e.g. presence of a personal recommendation), mentee characteristics (e.g. younger age), experience and skills of the mentor (e.g. ‘mentor helped me to find my own solutions’) and the quality of the relationship (e.g. ‘my mentor and I set out clear expectations early on’).
Conclusions
Our evaluation demonstrates that both mentor and mentee value mentoring and that careful planning of a scheme including preparation, training and ongoing support of both mentor and mentee addressing expectations, building rapport and logistics are likely to be helpful in ensuring success and benefit from the intervention.
doi:10.1177/0141076814530685
PMCID: PMC4128076  PMID: 24739382
mentoring; mentor; career; research; medicine; academic
4.  Are Reports of Psychological Stress Higher in Occupational Studies? A Systematic Review across Occupational and Population Based Studies 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e78693.
Objectives
The general health questionnaire (GHQ) is commonly used to assess symptoms of common mental disorder (CMD). Prevalence estimates for CMD caseness from UK population studies are thought to be in the range of 14–17%, and the UK occupational studies of which we are aware indicate a higher prevalence. This review will synthesise the existing research using the GHQ from both population and occupational studies and will compare the weighted prevalence estimates between them.
Methods
We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to examine the prevalence of CMD, as assessed by the GHQ, in all UK occupational and population studies conducted from 1990 onwards.
Results
The search revealed 65 occupational papers which met the search criteria and 15 relevant papers for UK population studies. The weighted prevalence estimate for CMD across all occupational studies which used the same version and cut-off for the GHQ was 29.6% (95% confidence intervals (CIs) 27.3–31.9%) and for comparable population studies was significantly lower at 19.1% (95% CIs 17.3–20.8%). This difference was reduced after restricting the studies by response rate and sampling method (23.9% (95% CIs 20.5%–27.4%) vs. 19.2% (95 CIs 17.1%–21.3%)).
Conclusions
Counter intuitively, the prevalence of CMD is higher in occupational studies, compared to population studies (which include individuals not in employment), although this difference narrowed after accounting for measures of study quality, including response rate and sampling method. This finding is inconsistent with the healthy worker effect, which would presume lower levels of psychological symptoms in individuals in employment. One explanation is that the GHQ is sensitive to contextual factors, and it seems possible that symptoms of CMD are over reported when participants know that they have been recruited to a study on the basis that they belong to a specific occupational group, as in nearly all “stress” surveys.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0078693
PMCID: PMC3817075  PMID: 24223840
5.  Randomised controlled trial of a brief alcohol intervention in a general hospital setting 
Trials  2013;14:345.
Background
The evidence suggests that brief alcohol-focused interventions, directed at hazardous and harmful drinkers in non-specialist settings such as primary care are effective in reducing alcohol consumption. However, there is a need for further research in the hospital setting. This is a randomised controlled trial to investigate the effectiveness of a 10-minute brief intervention amongst 'at risk’ drinkers admitted to general hospital wards. Unlike some previous trials, this trial is randomised, used blinded assessors, includes an intention-to-treat analysis, included female subjects and excluded people with alcohol dependence.
Methods
A total of 250 'at risk’ drinkers admitted to King’s College Hospital were identified using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT). Some 154 subjects entered the study and were randomly allocated to the control and intervention groups. Subjects in the control group received no advice about their drinking whilst subjects in the intervention group received 10 minutes of simple advice on reducing alcohol consumption. Recruitment took place between 1995 and 1997. The primary outcome was the AUDIT questionnaire at 12 months. Secondary outcomes were a previous week’s Drinks Diary, questionnaires (General Health Questionnaire, Alcohol Problems Questionnaire and the Severity of Alcohol Dependence Questionnaire) and laboratory blood tests (gamma glutamyl transferase, mean cell volume and haemoglobin).
Results
At 3-month and 12-month follow-up, all participants were included in the intention-to-treat analysis. At both time points there was no evidence of an intervention effect that could be attributed to the brief intervention. Both the intervention and control groups had an improved AUDIT score and reduced levels of alcohol consumption as measured by a subjective Drinks Diary at 3 months which was maintained at 12 months.
Conclusions
This study has added further evidence on brief interventions in the hospital setting. In contrast to the recent Cochrane review by McQueen et al., the results of this study do not support the effectiveness of a brief alcohol intervention in general hospital wards. However our study was underpowered and there were flaws in the statistical analyses, and these limitations temper the strength of our conclusions.
doi:10.1186/1745-6215-14-345
PMCID: PMC4016505  PMID: 24148799
Brief alcohol intervention; General hospital; Alcohol problems; Controlled clinical trial
6.  Risk factors for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder amongst United Kingdom Armed Forces personnel 
Psychological medicine  2008;38(4):511-522.
Background
Understanding the factors which increase the risk of PTSD for military personnel is important. This study aims to investigate the relative contribution of pre-deployment, peri-deployment, and post deployment variables to the prevalence of post traumatic stress symptoms in UK Armed Forces personnel who have been deployed in Iraq since 2003.
Method
Data are drawn from stage 1 of a retrospective cohort study comparing a random sample of UK military personnel deployed to the 2003 Iraq War with a control group who were not deployed to the initial phase of war fighting (response rate 61%). The analyses are limited to 4762 regular service individuals who responded and who deployed to Iraq since 2003.
Results
Post traumatic stress symptoms were associated with lower rank, being unmarried, low educational attainment and a history of childhood adversity. Exposure to potentially traumatising events was associated with post traumatic stress symptoms. Appraisals of the experience as involving threat to life or that work in theatre was above an individual’s trade and experience were strongly associated with post traumatic stress symptoms Low morale, poor social support within the unit and non-receipt of a homecoming brief were associated with greater risk of post traumatic stress symptoms.
Conclusions
These results support that there are modifiable occupational factors which may influence an individual’s risk of PTSD. Personal appraisal of threat to life during the trauma emerged as the strongest predictor of symptoms, and therefore interventions focused on reinstating a sense of control are an important focus for treatment.
doi:10.1017/S0033291708002778
PMCID: PMC3785135  PMID: 18226287
7.  DSM-5: a collection of psychiatrist views on the changes, controversies, and future directions 
BMC Medicine  2013;11:202.
The recent release of the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) by the American Psychiatric Association has led to much debate. For this forum article, we asked BMC Medicine Editorial Board members who are experts in the field of psychiatry to discuss their personal views on how the changes in DSM-5 might affect clinical practice in their specific areas of psychiatric medicine. This article discusses the influence the DSM-5 may have on the diagnosis and treatment of autism, trauma-related and stressor-related disorders, obsessive-compulsive and related disorders, mood disorders (including major depression and bipolar disorders), and schizophrenia spectrum disorders.
doi:10.1186/1741-7015-11-202
PMCID: PMC3846446  PMID: 24229007
DSM-5; Psychiatry; Autism; PTSD; Mood disorders; Bipolar; Obsessive-compulsive disorders; Depression; Schizophrenia
8.  A novel method of assessing quality of postgraduate psychiatry training: experiences from a large training programme 
BMC Medical Education  2013;13:85.
Background
Most assessments of the quality of postgraduate training are based on anonymised questionnaires of trainees. We report a comprehensive assessment of the quality of training at a large postgraduate psychiatry training institute using non-anonymised face-to-face interviews with trainees and their trainers.
Methods
Two consultant psychiatrists interviewed 99 trainees and 109 trainers. Scoring of interview responses was determined by using a pre-defined criteria. Additional comments were recorded as free text. Interviews covered 13 domains, including: Clinical, teaching, research and management opportunities, clinical environment, clinical supervision, adequacy of job description, absence of bullying and job satisfaction. Multiple interview domain scores were combined, generating a ‘Combined’ score for each post.
Results
The interview response rate was 97% for trainers 88% for trainees. There was a significant correlation between trainee and trainer scores for the same interview domains (Pearson’s r = 0.968, p< 0.001). Overall scores were significantly higher for specialist psychiatry posts as compared to general adult psychiatry posts (Two tailed t-test, p < 0.001, 95% CI: -0.398 to −0.132), and significantly higher for liaison psychiatry as compared to other specialist psychiatry posts (t-test: p = 0.038, 95% CI: -0.3901, -0.0118). Job satisfaction scores of year 1 to year 3 core trainees showed a significant increase with increasing seniority (Linear regression coefficient = 0.273, 95% CI: 0.033 to 0.513, ANOVA p= 0.026).
Conclusions
This in-depth examination of the quality of training on a large psychiatry training programme successfully elicited strengths and weakness of our programme. Such an interview scheme could be easily implemented in smaller schemes and may well provide important information to allow for targeted improvement of training. Additionally, trends in quality of training and job satisfaction amongst various psychiatric specialities were identified; specifically speciality posts and liaison posts in psychiatry were revealed to be the most popular with trainees.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-13-85
PMCID: PMC3695804  PMID: 23768083
Postgraduate Training; Postgraduate Medical Education; Psychiatry Training; Non-anonymised interviews; Non-anonymised feedback; Training quality; Trainees Feedback; Trainer Feedback
9.  Chronic fatigue syndrome 
Clinical Evidence  2011;2011:1101.
Introduction
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) affects between 0.006% and 3% of the population depending on the criteria of definition used, with women being at higher risk than men.
Methods and outcomes
We conducted a systematic review and aimed to answer the following clinical question: What are the effects of treatments for chronic fatigue syndrome? We searched: Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library, and other important databases up to March 2010 (Clinical Evidence reviews are updated periodically; please check our website for the most up-to-date version of this review). We included harms alerts from relevant organisations such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Results
We found 46 systematic reviews, RCTs, or observational studies that met our inclusion criteria. We performed a GRADE evaluation of the quality of evidence for interventions.
Conclusions
In this systematic review we present information relating to the effectiveness and safety of the following interventions: antidepressants, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), corticosteroids, dietary supplements, evening primrose oil, galantamine, graded exercise therapy, homeopathy, immunotherapy, intramuscular magnesium, oral nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, and prolonged rest.
Key Points
Chronic fatigue syndrome is characterised by severe, disabling fatigue, and other symptoms including musculoskeletal pain, sleep disturbance, impaired concentration, and headaches. CFS affects between 0.006% and 3% of the population depending on the criteria used, with women being at higher risk than men.
Graded exercise therapy has been shown to effectively improve measures of fatigue and physical functioning. Educational interventions with encouragement of graded exercise (treatment sessions, telephone follow-ups, and an educational package explaining symptoms and encouraging home-based exercise) improve symptoms more effectively than written information alone.
CBT is effective in treating chronic fatigue syndrome in adults. CBT may also be beneficial when administered by therapists with no specific experience of chronic fatigue syndrome, but who are adequately supervised.In adolescents, CBT can reduce fatigue severity and improve school attendance compared with no treatment.
We don't know how effective antidepressants, corticosteroids, and intramuscular magnesium are in treating chronic fatigue syndrome. Antidepressants should be considered in people with affective disorders, and tricyclics in particular have potential therapeutic value because of their analgesic properties.
Interventions such as dietary supplements, evening primrose oil, oral nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, homeopathy, and prolonged rest have not been studied in enough detail in RCTs for us to draw conclusions on their efficacy.
Based on a single large RCT galantamine seems no better than placebo at improving symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome.
Although there is some RCT evidence that immunotherapy can improve symptoms compared with placebo, it is associated with considerable adverse effects, and should therefore probably not be offered as a treatment for chronic fatigue.
PMCID: PMC3275316  PMID: 21615974
10.  What are the effects of having an illness or injury whilst deployed on post deployment mental health? A population based record linkage study of UK Army personnel who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan 
BMC Psychiatry  2012;12:178.
Background
The negative impact of sustaining an injury on a military deployment on subsequent mental health is well-documented, however, the relationship between having an illness on a military operation and subsequent mental health is unknown.
Methods
Population based study, linking routinely collected data of attendances at emergency departments in military hospitals in Iraq and Afghanistan [Operational Emergency Department Attendance Register (OpEDAR)], with data on 3896 UK Army personnel who participated in a military health study between 2007 and 2009 and deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan between 2003 to 2009.
Results
In total, 13.8% (531/3896) of participants had an event recorded on OpEDAR during deployment; 2.3% (89/3884) were medically evacuated. As expected, those medically evacuated for an injury were at increased risk of post deployment probable PTSD (odds ratio 4.27, 95% confidence interval 1.80-10.12). Less expected was that being medically evacuated for an illness was also associated with a similarly increased risk of probable PTSD (4.39, 1.60-12.07) and common mental disorders (2.79, 1.41-5.51). There was no association between having an OpEDAR event and alcohol misuse. Having an injury caused by hostile action was associated with increased risk of probable PTSD compared to those with a non-hostile injury (3.88, 1.15 to 13.06).
Conclusions
Personnel sustaining illnesses on deployment are just as, if not more, at risk of having subsequent mental health problems as personnel who have sustained an injury. Monitoring of mental health problems should consider those with illnesses as well as physical injuries.
doi:10.1186/1471-244X-12-178
PMCID: PMC3507752  PMID: 23095133
Mental Health; Military; PTSD; Alcohol use; Depression; Deployment
12.  Does anonymity increase the reporting of mental health symptoms? 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:797.
Background
There is no doubt that the perceived stigma of having a mental disorder acts as a barrier to help seeking. It is possible that personnel may be reluctant to admit to symptoms suggestive of poor mental health when such data can be linked to them, even if their personal details are only used to help them access further care. This may be particularly relevant because individuals who have a mental health problem are more likely to experience barriers to care and hold stigmatizing beliefs. If that is the case, then mental health screening programmers may not be effective in detecting those most in need of care. We aimed to compare mental health symptom reporting when using an anonymous versus identifiable questionnaire among UK military personnel on deployment in Iraq.
Methods
Survey among UK military personnel using two questionnaires, one was anonymous (n = 315) and one collected contact details (i.e. identifiable, n = 296). Distribution was by alternate allocation. Data were collected in Iraq during January-February 2009.
Results
No significant difference in the reporting of symptoms of common mental disorders was found (18.1% of identifiable vs. 22.9% of anonymous participants). UK military personnel were more likely to report sub-threshold and probable PTSD when completing questionnaires anonymously (sub-threshold PTSD: 2.4% of identifiable vs. 5.8% of anonymous participants; probable PTSD: 1.7% of identifiable vs. 4.8% of anonymous participants). Of the 11 barriers to care and perceived social stigma statements considered, those completing the anonymous questionnaire compared to those completing the identifiable questionnaire were more likely to endorse three statements: “leaders discourage the use of mental health services” (9.3% vs. 4.6%), “it would be too embarrassing” (41.6% vs. 32.5%) and “I would be seen as weak” (46.6% vs. 34.2%).
Conclusions
We found a significant effect on the reporting of sub-threshold and probable PTSD and certain stigmatizing beliefs (but not common mental disorders) when using an anonymous compared to identifiable questionnaire, with the anonymous questionnaire resulting in a higher prevalence of PTSD and increased reporting of three stigmatizing beliefs. This has implications for the conduct of mental health screening and research in the US and UK military.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-797
PMCID: PMC3532328  PMID: 22985427
Military; Mental health; Anonymity; Stigma; Barriers to care
13.  The function of ‘functional’: a mixed methods investigation 
Objective
The term ‘functional’ has a distinguished history, embodying a number of physiological concepts, but has increasingly come to mean ‘hysterical’. The DSM-V working group proposes to use ‘functional’ as the official diagnostic term for medically unexplained neurological symptoms (currently known as ‘conversion disorder’). This study aimed to explore the current neurological meanings of the term and to understand its resilience.
Design
Mixed methods were used, first interviewing the neurologists in a large UK region and then surveying all neurologists in the UK on their use of the term.
Results
The interviews revealed four dominant uses—‘not organic’, a physical disability, a brain disorder and a psychiatric problem—as well as considerable ambiguity. Although there was much dissatisfaction with the term, the ambiguity was also seen as useful when engaging with patients. The survey confirmed these findings, with a majority adhering to a strict interpretation of ‘functional’ to mean only ‘not organic’, but a minority employing it to mean different things in different contexts - and endorsing the view that ‘functional’ would one day be a neurological construct again.
Conclusions
‘Functional’ embodies real divisions in neurologists' conceptualisation of unexplained symptoms and, perhaps, between those of patients and neurologists: its diversity of meanings allows it to be a common term while meaning different things to different people, or at different times, and thus conceal some of the conflict in a particularly contentious area. This flexibility may help explain the term's longevity.
doi:10.1136/jnnp-2011-300992
PMCID: PMC3277687  PMID: 22250186
14.  How not to make a drama out of a crisis 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2008;336(7655):1251.
A new book that describes the changing responses of medical professionals to people who have been in a disaster represents a welcoming maturing of the field, finds Simon Wessely
doi:10.1136/bmj.39587.679086.3A
PMCID: PMC2405885
15.  Confidentiality 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2008;336(7649):888-891.
doi:10.1136/bmj.39521.357731.BE
PMCID: PMC2323098  PMID: 18420695
16.  Chronic fatigue syndrome in an ethnically diverse population: the influence of psychosocial adversity and physical inactivity 
BMC Medicine  2011;9:26.
Background
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a complex multifactorial disorder. This paper reports the prevalence of chronic fatigue (CF) and CFS in an ethnically diverse population sample and tests whether prevalence varies by social adversity, social support, physical inactivity, anxiety and depression.
Methods
Analysis of survey data linking the Health Survey for England (1998 and 1999) and the Ethnic Minority Psychiatric Illness Rates in the Community (EMPIRIC) study undertaken in 2000. The study population comprised a national population sample of 4,281 people ages 16 to 74 years. CF and CFS were operationally defined on the basis of an interview in the EMPIRIC study, alongside questions about psychosocial risk factors. Previous illnesses were reported in the Health Survey for England during 1998 and 1999, as was physical inactivity.
Results
All ethnic minority groups had a higher prevalence of CFS than the White group. The lowest prevalence was 0.8% in the White group, and it was highest at 3.5% in the Pakistani group (odds ratio (OR), 4.1; 95% confidence interval (95% CI), 1.6 to 10.4). Anxiety (OR, 1.8; 95% CI, 1.4 to 2.2), depression (OR, 1.4; 95% CI, 1.1 to 1.8), physical inactivity (OR, 2.0; 95% CI, 1.1 to 3.8), social strain (OR, 1.24; 95% CI, 1.04 to 1.48) and negative aspects of social support (OR, 2.12; 95% CI, 1.4 to 3.3) were independent risk factors for CFS in the overall sample. Together these risk factors explained ethnic differences in the prevalence of CFS, but no single risk factor could explain a higher prevalence in all ethnic groups.
Conclusions
The prevalence of CFS, but not CF, varies by ethnic group. Anxiety, depression, physical inactivity, social strain and negative aspects of social support together accounted for prevalence differences of CFS in the overall sample.
doi:10.1186/1741-7015-9-26
PMCID: PMC3072345  PMID: 21418640
17.  Investigation into the Presence of and Serological Response to XMRV in CFS Patients 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(3):e17592.
The novel human gammaretrovirus xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV), originally described in prostate cancer, has also been implicated in chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). When later reports failed to confirm the link to CFS, they were often criticised for not using the conditions described in the original study. Here, we revisit our patient cohort to investigate the XMRV status in those patients by means of the original PCR protocol which linked the virus to CFS. In addition, sera from our CFS patients were assayed for the presence of xenotropic virus envelope protein, as well as a serological response to it. The results further strengthen our contention that there is no evidence for an association of XMRV with CFS, at least in the UK.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0017592
PMCID: PMC3052320  PMID: 21408077
18.  Neurologists' understanding and management of conversion disorder 
Background
Conversion disorder is largely managed by neurologists, for whom it presents great challenges to understanding and management. This study aimed to quantify these challenges, examining how neurologists understand conversion disorder, and what they tell their patients.
Methods
A postal survey of all consultant neurologists in the UK registered with the Association of British Neurologists.
Results
349 of 591 practising consultant neurologists completed the survey. They saw conversion disorder commonly. While they endorsed psychological models for conversion, they diagnosed it according to features of the clinical presentation, most importantly inconsistency and abnormal illness behaviour. Most of the respondents saw feigning as entangled with conversion disorder, with a minority seeing one as a variant of the other. They were quite willing to discuss psychological factors as long as the patient was receptive but were generally unwilling to discuss feigning even though they saw it as their responsibility. Those who favoured models in terms of feigning were older, while younger, female neurologists preferred psychological models, believed conversion would one day be understood neurologically and found communicating with their conversion patients easier than it had been in the past.
Discussion
Neurologists accept psychological models for conversion disorder but do not employ them in their diagnosis; they do not see conversion as clearly different from feigning. This may be changing as younger, female neurologists endorse psychological views more clearly and find it easier to discuss with their patients.
doi:10.1136/jnnp.2010.233114
PMCID: PMC3191819  PMID: 21325661
19.  The stigma of mental health problems and other barriers to care in the UK Armed Forces 
Background
As with the general population, a proportion of military personnel with mental health problems do not seek help. As the military is a profession at high risk of occupational psychiatric injury, understanding barriers to help-seeking is a priority.
Method
Participants were drawn from a large UK military health study. Participants undertook a telephone interview including the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ); a short measure of PTSD (Primary Care PTSD, PC-PTSD); a series of questions about service utilisation; and barriers to care. The response rate was 76% (821 participants).
Results
The most common barriers to care reported are those relating to the anticipated public stigma associated with consulting for a mental health problem. In addition, participants reported barriers in the practicalities of consulting such as scheduling an appointment and having time off for treatment. Barriers to care did not appear to be diminished after people leave the Armed Forces. Veterans report additional barriers to care of not knowing where to find help and a concern that their employer would blame them for their problems. Those with mental health problems, such as PTSD, report significantly more barriers to care than those who do not have a diagnosis of a mental disorder.
Conclusions
Despite recent efforts to de-stigmatise mental disorders in the military, anticipated stigma and practical barriers to consulting stand in the way of access to care for some Service personnel. Further interventions to reduce stigma and ensuring that Service personnel have access to high quality confidential assessment and treatment remain priorities for the UK Armed Forces.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-11-31
PMCID: PMC3048487  PMID: 21310027
20.  Enduring beliefs about effects of gassing in war: qualitative study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2007;335(7633):1313-1315.
Objectives To discover the content of enduring beliefs held by first world war veterans about their experience of having been gassed.
Design Collection and thematic analysis of written and reported statements from a sample of veterans about gassing.
Subjects 103 veterans with a war pension.
Results Twelve themes were identified, which were related to individual statements. The systemic nature of chemical weapons played a key part in ideas and beliefs about their capacity to cause enduring harm to health. Unlike shrapnel or a bullet that had a defined physical presence, gas had unseen effects within the body, while its capacity to cause damage was apparent from vesicant effects to skin and eyes. The terror inspired by chemical weapons also served to maintain memories of being gassed, while anti-gas measures were themselves disconcerting or a source of discomfort.
Conclusions Chronic symptoms and work difficulties maintained beliefs about the potency of chemical weapons. In the period after the war, gas continued to inspire popular revulsion and was associated with a sense of unfairness.
doi:10.1136/bmj.39420.533461.25
PMCID: PMC2151157  PMID: 18156245
21.  50 ways to trace your veteran: increasing response rates can be cheap and effective 
European Journal of Psychotraumatology  2010;1:10.3402/ejpt.v1i0.5516.
Background
while low response rates need not introduce bias into research, having a lower percentage of responders does increase the potential for this to occur. This is of particular concern given the decline that has been occurring in response rates since the 1950s. However, there are various methods that can be incorporated into the study design, which can assist in increasing levels of participation.
Objective
To outline the methods used by the King's Centre for Military Health Research (KCMHR) when conducting a recent telephone survey of serving and ex-Service military personnel.
Design
Using participants who had already taken part in a questionnaire-based study on the health effects of serving in the UK Armed Forces (n=10,272), a subsample was selected for an in-depth telephone interview-based follow-up study. The subsample consisted of 1,105 participants, selected on the basis of their mental health status. An adjusted response rate of 76% was achieved (n=821).
Results
Various methods of contact were used in this study to ensure an adequate response rate was achieved.
Conclusions
Simple research strategies increase response rates and are likely to reduce bias. Use of multiple simultaneous tracing methods and customisation of the approach to the target population increases rapport between participants, ensuring that those who take part feel valued as members of the study. In the current climate of decreasing participation in studies, research teams need to engage with their study population and devise innovative strategies to keep participants involved in the research being undertaken.
doi:10.3402/ejpt.v1i0.5516
PMCID: PMC3401995  PMID: 22893795
Response rates; methodology; telephone surveys; bias; UK Armed Forces
22.  Differential effects of pre and post-payment on neurologists' response rates to a postal survey 
BMC Neurology  2010;10:100.
Background
Monetary incentives are an effective way of increasing response rates to surveys, though they are generally less effective in physicians, and are more effective when the incentive is paid up-front rather than when made conditional on completion.
Methods
In this study we examine the effectiveness of pre- and post-completion incentives on the response rates of all the neurologists in the UK to a survey about conversion disorder, using a cluster randomised controlled design. A postal survey was sent to all practicing consultant neurologists, in two rounds, including either a book token, the promise of a book token, or nothing at all.
Results
Three hundred and fifty-one of 591 eligible neurologists completed the survey, for a response rate of 59%. While the post-completion incentive exerted no discernible influence on response rates, a pre-completion incentive did, with an odds-ratio of 2.1 (95% confidence interval 1.5 - 3.0).
Conclusions
We conclude that neurologists, in the UK at least, may be influenced to respond to a postal survey by a pre-payment incentive but are unaffected by a promised reward.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-10-100
PMCID: PMC2984383  PMID: 20973984
23.  Occupational outcomes in soldiers hospitalized with mental health problems 
Background Little is known about the longer term occupational outcome in UK military personnel who require hospital-based treatment for mental health problems.
Aims To examine the documented occupational outcomes following hospital-based treatment for mental health problems within the British Army.
Methods Hospital admission records were linked to occupational outcome data from a database used for personnel administration.
Results A total of 384 records were identified that were then linked to occupational outcome after an episode of hospitalization. Seventy-four per cent of those admitted to hospital with mental health problems were discharged from the Army prematurely, and 73% of the discharges occurred in the first year following hospitalization. Discharge from the Army was associated with holding a junior rank, completing <5 years military service, having a combat role, being male and receiving community mental health team treatment prior to admission.
Conclusions Hospitalization for a mental health problem in a military context is associated with a low rate of retention in service. Outcome was not influenced greatly by duration of hospital stay; however, those who reported receiving individual rather than group-based therapy while in hospital appeared to do better.
doi:10.1093/occmed/kqp115
PMCID: PMC2752400  PMID: 19666961
Armed Forces; hospitalization; mental health; occupational outcomes; soldiers; United Kingdom
24.  In the psychiatrist's chair: how neurologists understand conversion disorder 
Brain  2009;132(10):2889-2896.
Conversion disorder (‘hysteria’) was largely considered to be a neurological problem in the 19th century, but without a neuropathological explanation it was commonly assimilated with malingering. The theories of Janet and Freud transformed hysteria into a psychiatric condition, but as such models decline in popularity and a neurobiology of conversion has yet to be found, today's neurologists once again face a disorder without an accepted model. This article explores how today's neurologists understand conversion through in-depth interviews with 22 neurology consultants. The neurologists endorsed psychological models but did not understand their patients in such terms. Rather, they distinguished conversion from other unexplained conditions clinically by its severity and inconsistency. While many did not see this as clearly distinct from feigning, they did not feel that this was their problem to resolve. They saw themselves as ‘agnostic’ regarding non-neuropathological explanations. However, since neurologists are in some ways more expert in conversion than psychiatrists, their continuing support for the deception model is important, and begs an explanation. One reason for the model's persistence may be that it is employed as a diagnostic device, used to differentiate between those unexplained symptoms that could, in principle, have a medical explanation and those that could not.
doi:10.1093/brain/awp060
PMCID: PMC2759333  PMID: 19321463
conversion disorder; hysteria; malingering; deception; factitious disorder
25.  Chronic fatigue syndrome 
Clinical Evidence  2008;2008:1101.
Introduction
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) affects between 0.006% and 3% of the population depending on the criteria of definition used, with women being at higher risk than men.
Methods and outcomes
We conducted a systematic review and aimed to answer the following clinical question: What are the effects of treatments for chronic fatigue syndrome? We searched: Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library, and other important databases up to September 2007 (BMJ Clinical evidence reviews are updated periodically, please check our website for the most up-to-date version of this review). We included harms alerts from relevant organisations such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Results
We found 45 systematic reviews, RCTs, or observational studies that met our inclusion criteria. We performed a GRADE evaluation of the quality of evidence for interventions.
Conclusions
In this systematic review we present information relating to the effectiveness and safety of the following interventions: antidepressants, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), corticosteroids, dietary supplements, evening primrose oil, galantamine, graded exercise therapy, homeopathy, immunotherapy, intramuscular magnesium, oral nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, and prolonged rest.
Key Points
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is characterised by severe, disabling fatigue, and other symptoms including musculoskeletal pain, sleep disturbance, impaired concentration, and headaches. CFS affects between 0.006% and 3% of the population depending on the criteria used, with women being at higher risk than men.
Graded exercise therapy has been shown to effectively improve measures of fatigue and physical functioning. Educational interventions with encouragement of graded exercise (treatment sessions, telephone follow-ups, and an educational package explaining symptoms and encouraging home-based exercise) improve symptoms more effectively than written information alone.
CBT is also effective in treating chronic fatigue syndrome. CBT may also be beneficial when administered by therapists with no specific experience of chronic fatigue syndrome, but who are adequately supervised.In adolescents, CBT can reduce fatigue severity and improve school attendance compared with no treatment.
We don't know how effective antidepressants, corticosteroids, and intramuscular magnesium are in treating chronic fatigue syndrome. Antidepressants should be considered in people with affective disorders, and tricyclics in particular have potential therapeutic value because of their analgesic properties.
Interventions such as dietary supplements, evening primrose oil, oral nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, homeopathy, and prolonged rest have not been studied in enough detail for us to draw conclusions on their efficacy.
A large study has found that galantamine is no better than placebo at improving symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome.
Although there is some evidence that immunotherapy can improve symptoms compared with placebo, it is associated with considerable adverse effects, and should therefore probably not be offered as a treatment for chronic fatigue.
PMCID: PMC2907931  PMID: 19445810

Results 1-25 (84)