Tagprevention

Reading of the Week: Can a Fake Intervention Help Real Pain? Also, Preventing Depression

From the Editor 

“To a degree which has never been suspected, what powerful influence upon diseases is produced by mere imagination.” British physician John Haygarth wrote those words more than two centuries ago when considering the placebo effect.

Is it possible to successfully treat people with placebo in an open-label trial? That is, if people know they are taking placebo, will they still experience the benefit of placebo?

painCan a fake intervention help real pain?

In this week’s selection, we look at a new study where participants were offered placebo for back pain. Spoiler alert: it worked.

And, in a new feature for the Reading of the Week, we include an invited letter to the editor from Dr. Albert H. C. Wong who writes about the best way of preventing depression.

DG Continue reading

Reading of the Week: Can We Prevent Psychosis? Part 2 of 2

From the Editor

Is an ounce of prevention worth a pound of cure? As noted last week, psychiatry tends to emphasize the treatment of illness, not its prevention. But preventing illness is our ultimate goal.

Can we prevent psychotic illness?

Prevention is built on two things: we need to identify at risk individuals, and then we need to use appropriate measures to prevent the illness.

Last week. The psychosis risk calculator.

This week. Cost-effective prevention.

In this week’s Reading, we look at a paper that considers CBT to prevent psychosis in an ultra high-risk group; the paper also considers the cost-effectiveness of the intervention. So is Ben Franklin right in arguing that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure? The paper doesn’t weigh in on Franklin, of course, but it does find that CBT is economically sound with an 83% likelihood of reducing the transition to psychosis and at a lower cost.

DG Continue reading

Reading of the Week: Can We Prevent Psychosis? Part 1 of 2

From the Editor

Here’s a quick statistical summary of the Readings for the past 12 months.

Total: 48.

Number discussing the prevention of mental illness: One.

Is an ounce of prevention really worth a pound of cure?

Like all of medicine, psychiatry tends to emphasize the treatment of illness, not its prevention. This isn’t the result of a vast medical-industrial conspiracy, of course, but the reality that our field is young and the causes of mental illness aren’t well understood.

But preventing illness is our ultimate goal. Consider the suffering and cost that could be avoided if a person at risk of psychosis didn’t convert, as an example.

Can we prevent psychotic illness?

Prevention is built on two things: we need to identify at risk individuals, and then we need to use appropriate measures to prevent the illness.

Over the next two weeks, we look at a few papers that seek to identify at risk individuals and prevent psychosis in them.

This week. The psychosis risk calculator.

Next week. Cost-effective prevention.

In this week’s paper from The American Journal of Psychiatry, Cannon et al. develop a risk calculator to predict psychotic disorder. The tool they develop has an accuracy rate of 71% – comparable to calculators used for determining cancer recurrence.

DG Continue reading

Reading of the Week: Can We Prevent Depression For Those At Risk?

Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide and commonly begins in adolescence. Prevention is one viable strategy for reducing the population burden of depression because most depressed adolescents do not receive specialty mental health treatment and because untreated depression is associated with enduring deleterious effects on interpersonal relationships, educational attainment, and occupational status.

Single-site studies have demonstrated the efficacy of an adaptation of the Coping with Depression for Adolescents intervention in preventing the onset of depression relative to usual care in adolescents with subsyndromal depressive symptoms and in those with a parental history of depression. These results were replicated in our 4-site randomized clinical trial of 316 high-risk adolescents randomly assigned to either an adaptation of the Coping with Depression for Adolescents (cognitive-behavioral prevention [CBP]) plus usual care or usual care alone, which found a lower incidence of depressive episodes at 9 and 33 months after enrollment in those who received CBP.

So begins a new paper that seeks a lofty goal: using a psychological intervention to prevent depression before it starts.

This week’s Reading: “Effect of a Cognitive-Behavioral Prevention Program on Depression 6 Years After Implementation Among At-Risk Adolescents: A Randomized Clinical Trial” by Dr. David A. Brent et al., which was published in the November JAMA Psychiatry.

In this paper, Brent et al. attempt something we often dream about in psychiatry – but are so rarely able to achieve: prevention. That alone would make this paper worth considering. But there’s more: the study features an incredible follow up period (a full six years) and a consideration of the parent, not just the at-risk adolescent. Pulling it together: this is a big paper in a big journal with a big result.

Dr. David Brent

So, can we take an at risk population and, with therapy, prevent them from developing a major mental illness? This is what the study authors seek to find out. As they note early in the paper: “We hypothesized that those who received CBP would have a lower hazard of depression onsets and better developmental competence during emerging adulthood.” Continue reading