AuthorDavid Gratzer

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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Reading of the Week: Cannabis Legalization – Clinical Implications & Major Papers

From the Editor

It’s legal.

After decades of debate, Canada has legalized recreational marijuana, joining an exclusive club of nations with just one other member: Uruguay.

In the coming weeks, many details will be sorted out – some small (the regulation of edibles), some not so small (driving and use). But starting this week, we clinicians work in a different world.

What are the clinical implications of legalization? Will we see more use? How will people present to our EDs and clinics? What should we ask on a history? And how do we treat cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome? (Spoiler alert: ginger stat.)

In the first selection, I highlight comments by CAMH’s Dr. Jonathan Bertram made in an interview with me. We discuss what every clinician should know about legalization.

p06999n5

And then with an eye on the journals, I pick a few essential articles on cannabis, drawing from The New England Journal, JAMA, and other major publications, considering topics from the adverse effects of marijuana to the implications for pain management.

DG

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Reading of the Week: Weight Loss for People with Schizophrenia? STEPWISE Didn’t Work. On the Big Paper, the Not-So-Big Result & Negative Results

From the Editor

Years ago, I worked with a patient who lost 70 pounds with an aggressive regiment of exercise. His determination was exceptional but his struggles with obesity weren’t. People with schizophrenia are twice as likely as the general population to deal with weight problems.

In the first selection, we consider a paper on weight loss for those with schizophrenia and related illnesses. STEPWISE offered these patients a thoughtful approach to weight management. The paper is remarkable for its finding: the intervention didn’t work. As the University of Southampton’s Dr. Richard I. G. Holt and his co-authors write: “the intervention was neither clinically nor cost-effective over the 12-month intervention period.”

In this Reading, we consider the paper, but also the larger issue of negative trials and their lack of presence in the literature.

bank-failure-lw-schwenk-locWe often read about bank failures; medical study failures, not so much

In the second selection, we draw on a New York Times essay by pediatrician Aaron E. Carroll who calls for the publication of more negative trials. “These actions might make for more boring news and more tempered enthusiasm. But they might also lead to more accurate science.”

DG

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Reading of the Week: Social Media & Paranoia — the new Acta Paper; Also, How Do We Change Docs? A Reader Responds

From the Editor

Politicians tweet about townhall meetings; celebrities put vacation pictures on Instagram; your cousin in Europe has her own YouTube channel.

Our world is very different than it was just a few short years ago. (Fun fact: Facebook – a decade and a half old – claims to have more than 2 billion active monthly users.)

But how has social media affected those with mental illness? While this is much discussed in the media, there is little in the literature. In this week’s Reading, we consider a new paper that looks at social media and mental illness, in particular psychosis. Tweet this: the University of Manchester’s Natalie Berry and her co-authors didn’t find a connection between use of social media and increased paranoia.

BELCHATOW POLAND - MAY 02 2013: Modern white keyboard with colored social network buttons.

In this week’s Reading, we consider this new paper from Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica. We also wonder about the role of the Internet and social media for those with psychosis, drawing from a Psychiatric Services paper.

Also, the University of Toronto’s Dr. Ivan Silver writes a letter to the editor about a previous Reading.

DG

 
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Reading of the Week: Do Antidepressants Beat Placebo? Does Measurement-based Care Work? Four Papers and Some Thoughts on a Fourth Anniversary

From the Editor

This month, the Reading of the Week – in its present form – turns four.

Today, the Readings are emailed out from sea to sea to sea. It’s a big evolution from the first Readings, started more than six and a half years ago, with me handing out photocopies of papers on the inpatient ward where I worked.

To celebrate our silk anniversary, I’ve picked four major selections from the past four years. I’ve also included some papers that haven’t been discussed – but should have been.

p9180013Silk: good for a fourth wedding anniversary, but a fourth Reading anniversary?

Enjoy.

DG

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