AuthorDavid Gratzer

Reading of the Week: Measurement-based Care – Big Idea, Not-So-Big Reality

From the Editor

Imagine the excitement if a new antidepressant came to market that boasted that it could achieve the symptom reduction of other antidepressants in about half the time, yet had no significant new side effects.

There is no new antidepressant, but there is a study to mull: In 2015, The American Journal of Psychiatry published a paper on measurement-based care for people with depression, and the patients in the measurement group achieved remission in about half the time compared to people seeing a psychiatrist without the guidance of measurement. Though the paper has limitations, it also suggests the incredible potential of measurement-based care.

The measuring tape isolated on white backgroundThe measuring tape isolated on white background

In the first selection, we consider a new review paper published in JAMA Psychiatry. Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute’s Cara C. Lewis and her co-authors contemplate the potential of measurement-based care – and its reality (greatly underused). They make six points of observation and discussion before going on to propose an agenda.

In the second selection, we look at a paper by the University of Pennsylvania’s David W. Oslin and his co-authors who use survey data to consider the use of measurement-based care in a paper published by Psychiatric Services.

DG

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Reading of the Week: The Best of 2018

From the Editor

It’s an annual Reading of the Week tradition. At the end of each year, we pause, take stock, and consider the best selections of the past 12 months.

new-year-2018

2018 was an eventful year.

Start here: the federal government legalized the recreational use of cannabis.

We have heard so much about legalization over these past few years, that the event itself seemed almost anti-climactic. But remember: Canada is only the second country in the world to do this.

And 2018 has seen further evidence that stigma continues to fade: governments across the country have committed themselves to increased funding for mental health; more people spoke of their experiences with mental illness; more people talked about previously taboo topics, such as suicide.

And so with an eye on the future, let’s look back at the last year. In this final Reading of 2018, we look at a few memorable selections. Enjoy.

Please note that there will be no Reading for the next two weeks.

DG

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Reading of the Week: Smoking, Cognitive Performance, & Mental Illness: Quitting Matters – the New AJP Study

From the Editor

I don’t quite know when the shift occurred, but somewhere between the zeal of residency and the busyness of life as an attending physician, I stopped documenting nicotine use disorder. Indeed, working with severely ill patients, it was a given that they did smoke, and thus hardly worth mentioning. (Studies suggest that smoking is thrice as prevalent among those with schizophrenia compared to the general population.)

For many of our patients, tobacco use is a deadly problem – a major reason why people with severe, persistent mental illness have a life expectancy much shorter than ours.

This week, we consider a new paper from The American Journal of Psychiatry. The University of Academisch Medisch Centrum Universiteit van Amsterdam’s Dr. Jentien M. Vermeulen and her co-authors consider smoking in those with psychosis, their families and a control group, studying the impact on smoking on cognition – and also the impact of smoking cessation on cognition. Though work has been done in this area, the Vermenulen et al. paper is strong: they consider two comparison groups and follow people for six years. Spoiler alert: smoking cessation improved cognition in people with psychosis.

1304701062nosmokingButt out, think better?

In this Reading, we consider the paper, as well as the editorial by the University of Miami’s Philip D. Harvey, who raises some good points about what is – and isn’t – in the data.

We close the Reading with a couple of housekeeping items, including my new podcast (which may be of interest to Ontario doctors).

DG

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Reading of the Week: How to Improve Depression Treatment? Cuijpers in JAMA. Also, Kurdyak on Access & Goodman on Mental Health Screening for Docs

From the Editor

This week, we consider three provocative but thoughtful essays.

In the first selection, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam’s Pim Cuijpers – a highly published researcher in depression – wonders what needs to be done to improve depression outcomes. In this JAMA paper, he notes the importance of the task: “One estimate suggests that approximately 30% of patients with depressive disorders have a chronic course with limited response to treatment.”

ketamine-a-miracle-drug-for-depression-or-not-rm-1440x810Is ketamine a possible breakthrough for depression? Cuijpers ask.

In the second selection, the University of Toronto’s Dr. Paul Kurdyak considers how to address the shortage of psychiatrists – and notes, in this healthydebate.ca essay, that the problem is more complicated than some would suggest; he argues that the supply of psychiatrists across Ontario has little impact on access because of practice styles.

Finally, in the third selection, Columbia University’s Matthew L. Goldman and his co-authors note that doctors are screened for TB. They ask: “Should physicians also be screened for mental health conditions such as depression or burnout?”

DG

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Reading of the Week: A 20th Century Medical Renaissance Man – the Life & Legacy of Dr. Roger Bland

From the Editor

Few individuals have contributed more to the evolution psychiatry, the promotion of mental health, or served as a more committed and effective advocate for the mentally ill than Dr. Roger C. Bland. He inspired us, he guided us, he mentored us and enriched us. He was a father figure to many – a voice of experience, compassion, reason and intelligence we could always count on.

Simply put, Dr. Bland was a great man.

Dr. Roger Bland had a storied career.

He was a practicing psychiatrist for decades. He also held many leadership and administrative positions over the years: Chair of the University of Alberta’s Department of Psychiatry, President of the Alberta Psychiatric Association, Vice-President International Federation of Psychiatric Epidemiology, Assistant Deputy Minister of Health for Alberta, and Deputy Editor of The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. For his accomplishments, he was appointed to the Order of Canada. He also found time to be a father and grandfather. And he was an accomplished chef.

He passed at the end of July.

orderofcanadaDr. Roger Bland being invested in the Order of Canada

I had a few interactions with Dr. Bland. A couple of years ago, at the CPA Annual Conference, we started to talk about suicide prevention after a colleague’s presentation, and we ended up debating our interpretation of several papers. I remember breaking into a slight sweat as I realized that he had a near encyclopedic knowledge of the literature.

But if he could be tough in a discussion, he was an amazing collaborator. At the request of a younger colleague, I once asked Dr. Bland for input into a collaborative care project. He was generous of his time and very thoughtful. (Dr. Bland had been a founding member of the Canadian Collaborative Mental Health Initiative, which involved a dozen organizations; he testified before Parliament on the work of this Initiative.) Yet, he had no hesitation talking about how to structure a partnership with primary care and even how to think about our documentation – pro-tip: keep the notes short and focused; family doctors are busy.

In this Reading, we consider the life and contributions of Dr. Roger Bland.

I asked Dr. Scott Patten, the editor-in-chief of The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, to write about him – his work and also what it was like to work with him. Dr. Patten also discusses some of Dr. Bland’s most important papers.

For those who wish to read more about Dr. Bland, I’ve included links to his Globe and Mail obituary. There is also a link to the University of Alberta Department of Psychiatry’s monthly newsletter where colleagues reflect on his life and legacy – the opening quotation is from Dr. Xin-Min Li, the Chair; and Dr. Bland gives an interview – his last – on his career (spoiler alert: his training included 10,000 home visits).

DG

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Reading of the Week: Vulnerable Youth & ‘13 Reasons Why’ — the New Psych Services Paper; Also, Dr. Orford Considers his Brother’s Suicide in JAMA

From the Editor

It’s a hit show. Is it dangerous?

Since its launch, 13 Reasons Why has been highly controversial; the storyline of the Netflix series revolves around a teenager’s decision to suicide – which is graphically depicted over three minutes in one episode.

In this week’s Reading, we look at a new Psychiatric Services paper. University of Michigan’s Dr. Victor Hong and his co-authors consider the impact of the show on youth seeking psychiatric care for suicide-related risk. While other studies have analyzed the response in the larger community (including google searches), this study focuses on a vulnerable population. They find: “For certain youths, watching the series correlated with a perceived nonzero elevation in their suicide risk; identification with the main female character and strong affective reactions may be markers of increased risk associated with viewing the show.”

13-reasons-picBig buzz, big problem?

In the other selection, we look at a short essay recently published in JAMA. In “Grief After Suicide,” Dr. Orford discusses the suicide of his brother. The Deakin University intensivist notes that: “As a physician, I have cared for thousands of patients and families in the last hours and days of life. I have listened, watched, and learned.” The loss of his brother, however, continues to have a major effect on his life, three decades later.

DG

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Reading of the Week: Computers & Health Care – Dr. Gawande’s New Essay on “Why Doctors Hate Their Computers”

From the Editor

I’m running late – and I’m more than a bit concerned. I need to get to a meeting at the other campus, but first, I need to discharge a patient. That involves printing out a prescription and writing a short note. I’m in my fourteenth year of inpatient work, not counting residency, and I’m pretty good with prescriptions and notes. I believe I can do this. But does the EHR believe I can do this?

Many of us are frustrated with electronic health records (EHRs). In this week’s selection, we consider a new essay by Harvard University’s Atul Gawande, a surgeon, who considers EHRs and practice. Dr. Gawande talks about his own struggles with computers, and ties into the larger literature.

frustrateddocBig computer system, big problem?

We discuss his essay, and the potential and problems of EHRs. We touch on the Canadian experience and wonder about quality improvement. To that end, we look at “Getting Rid of Stuff,” just published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

DG

 

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Reading of the Week: Suicidal? Get a Postcard. The New JCP Paper on Suicide Prevention. Also, Ketamine & Inpatients

From the Editor

Can we do better at suicide prevention?

In recent years, several studies have tried brief contact interventions – that is, interventions aimed at maintaining a post-discharge connection – reporting success. These interventions have been relatively simple, such as handwritten postcards or phone calls for people post-attempt.

In this week’s selection, we look at a new paper from The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. Involving 23 emergency departments and crisis centres in France, the authors pulled together different interventions, coming up with an algorithm offering patients care informed by the best evidence. So some patients received calls, but others were given crisis cards.

It’s an ambitious project. Did it work? The results weren’t statistically significant.

p1110389Postcards: colourful and pretty – and life-saving?

We consider this paper, the negative result, and ask: what does this say about suicide prevention? And then, looking at the evolving literature on suicide, we briefly consider a paper written by Sunnybook’s Mark Sinyor that uses IV ketamine for suicidal thoughts.

Please note: there will be no Reading next week.

DG
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Reading of the Week: Prevention Works – the New JAMA Psychiatry Paper on MIs & Mortality in Patients with Schizophrenia

From the Editor

Statistically, people with major mental illness have a life expectancy that is decades shorter than those without. Not only is that gap significant, but it may be growing. In a 2013 paper, drawing on Danish data, Nielsen et al. showed that the expansion of life expectancy seen in the general population over the past 30 years hasn’t been enjoyed by those with schizophrenia.

Why the gap? And what can be done? A major new paper in JAMA Psychiatry considers the treatment of myocardial infarction. Like Nielsen et al., Aalborg University’s Pirathiv Kugathasan and his co-authors use Danish national databases. They focus on the use (or lack of use) of cardioprotective medications, like statins, after MI. Interestingly, they find that when people with schizophrenia have cardioprotective medications, they can match the outcomes of those without mental illness.

Female doctor with the stethoscope holding heartIs heart health the way to address the gap?

In this week’s Reading, we consider the Kugathasan et al. paper, as well as the accompanying editorial. Then we consider the big question: what can be done?

DG

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Reading of the Week: “The Name of the Dog” – Dr. Tafder’s Excellent NEJM Paper & More

From the Editor

There is something often dehumanizing about the health-care experience – the way patients can be reduced to medical-record numbers, the way lives can be summarized in disease names and a few demographic details (“a 30 year old woman with schizophrenia”).

This week, we consider two essays that are about people who happen to be patients – and the lessons that our colleagues have drawn from their stories.

In the first selection, we look at a paper written by Dr. Taimur Safder that was published in The New England Journal of Medicine. It’s about the name of a dog – and much more. During his training, Dr. Safder presents the case of a person who develops chest pain when walking his dog. When the supervisor asks the name of the dog, the physician isn’t sure. “Four years later, I’m not sure anything I’ve carried from residency has been more useful than that question.”

dy_wosjwsamveozNo, this Reading isn’t really about dogs

And, in the second selection, we consider a short essay by Dr. Lee Lu. The Texas doctor describes her experiences working with a patient with substance use problems – and wrestling with her own biases.

Finally, returning to the topic of cannabis legalization, we consider some responses to last week’s Reading, and a CMAJ editorial on the topic.

DG

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