TagThe New York Times

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: Appointment Letters & Focused Therapies – Thinking Outside the Box

From the Editor

When we speak of improving the quality of mental health care, we often think about cutting-edge innovation – wearables, virtual reality, genetics, to name a few things.

This week, there are two selections. Both discuss innovations aimed at improving care – but neither could be considered particularly “cutting edge.”

In the first selection, researchers sought to improve outpatient appointment attendance with a decidedly low-tech idea: appointment letters reminding patients of the importance of follow up. Spoiler alert: it worked.

In the second selection, drawn from The New York Times, reporter Andrea Petersen discusses clinics that use a short, intense version of CBT.

Thinking outside the box

Together, these two selections illustrate some thinking outside the box.

DG

 
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Reading of the Week: Involuntary Psychiatric Admissions – More Common, But Why? Also, the Failure of AI

From the Editor

Some patients are so ill that we take away their basic rights and freedoms, admitting them involuntarily to hospital. But how common is the practice?

In the first selection, we consider a new paper by Michael Lebenbaum et al. that looks at involuntary admissions from 2009 to 2013. They find the percentage is not only high (by international standards) but that it has soared in recent years – from 70.7% in 2009 to 77.1% in 2013.

Hand holding key (with key hole)

We consider a recent essay on AI in the second selection. Google has made international headlines with its program, Duplex, that can call and book appointments. In this piece, the authors note that AI has failed to live up to its potential. “Schedule hair salon appointments? The dream of artificial intelligence was supposed to be grander than this…”

DG

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Reading of the Week: Mukherjee on Why Checklists Save Lives – Except When They Don’t

From the Editor

“How could an idea that worked so effectively in so many situations fail to work in this one? The most likely answer is the simplest: Human behavior changed, but it didn’t change enough.”

Readings of the Week generally focus on psychiatric topics. But here’s a task for all of us in health care: improving the quality of care. This week, we look at a new essay written by oncologist Siddhartha Mukherjee, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer. In it, he talks about the success of using checklists in reducing complications in some places – but not in others. The above quotation comes from this provocative essay.

checklist-850x476 Checklists: Shown to save lives, except when they don’t

Why do checklists work some of the time? In this Reading, we consider the essay, and the larger questions it raises.

DG

 

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Reading of the Week: Depression and Its Management — The American Journal of Psychiatry on Exercise and Long-term Use of Medication

From the Editor

It’s one of the most common and disabling illnesses. But how to treat depression in the long term?

In the first selection, we consider a paper just published by The American Journal of Psychiatry. In it, LaSalle University’s Felipe B. Schuch and his co-authors present a meta-analysis on exercise and depression. Drawing on 49 studies, they find that physical activity can protect against the development of depression, regardless of age and geographical region.

treat-alternative-exercise_an_alternative_adhd_treatment-article-3280a-man_running_sunset-ts_451886305-3Exercise: good for the heart, the lungs, and the prevention of depression?

In the second selection, Harvard University’s Roy H. Perlis writes a commentary for The American Journal of Psychiatry responding to a recent New York Times article that questioned the long-term use of antidepressants. He writes: “The informative analogy might be treatment of type 2 diabetes. While diet and exercise have a substantial impact on disease course (notably, results far more compelling than those in depression), it is hard to envision front-page articles in the New York Times about the dangers of long-term diabetes treatment.”

DG

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Reading of the Week: The Big NYT Article on Antidepressants & Withdrawal – Our Vioxx Moment?

From the Editor

“Many People Taking Antidepressants Discover They Cannot Quit.”

The New York Times. Front page. Sunday edition.

One of the most read newspapers in the world just ran a story suggesting that antidepressants may be linked to significant withdrawal symptoms. That news article is, well, news. Journalists Benedict Carey and Robert Gebeloff interview a mother of four who says, “Had I been told the risks of trying to come off this drug, I never would have started it.”

istock_000017711523xlargeAntidepressants: small pills but big problem?

This week’s Reading looks at the big article and considers its big implications.

DG

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Reading of the Week: Three Essays on Mental Illness

From the Editor

As stigma fades, we are as a society talking more and more about mental illness. And we are also writing more on the topic.

This week, the Reading features three essays that ask three provocative questions. Does naloxone access save lives? What’s it like to be depressed and in medical school? How do involuntary commitment laws affect the families of those with mental illness?

These essays are very different in part because they reflect very different perspectives on our collective experience with mental illness: the perspectives of providers, patients, and families.

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Enjoy.

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Reading of the Week: AI & Mental Health – Gordon Parker Looks Ahead; Also, Remembering Ronald Fieve

From the Editor

As artificial intelligence advances, what role will computers play in mental health care?

Today, computers touch practically every aspect of our lives – from suggesting books that may be of interest to us on Amazon to helping fly our planes to tropical destinations. But will computers soon help us with diagnosing and treating our patients? Will some parts of clinical medicine be replaced or assisted by computers?

This week, we look at a new paper from Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica considering AI and care. University of New South Wales’ Professor Gordon Parker sees a role for computers to help humans with diagnosis – but not more. “[R]ather than seeking to develop a computer program that will have diagnostic superiority to an ace clinical psychiatrist, it may be more important to develop programs that complement the psychiatrist’s judgement.”

AI: The next great doctor – or just a pretty face?

And in the second selection, we look back, not forward, and consider the career and contributions of psychiatrist Ronald R. Fieve, who recently passed. Dr. Fieve’s work helped bring lithium to North America.

DG

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Reading of the Week: The Pill That Talks to Doctors, & More

From the Editor

The pill. The criticism. The question.

Readings have covered everything from new books to political speeches. This week, we consider a few thought-provoking pieces. Is there a common theme? Maybe this: the world of mental health care is changing – and fast.

In these three selections, we look at: the pill that talks to doctors and family, the criticism of digital health, the question about the true nature of schizophrenia.

Enjoy.

DG

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Reading of the Week: Are the Kids Alright? NYT on Severe Anxiety & Adolescents

From the Editor

“The disintegration of Jake’s life took him by surprise.”

This quotation is from a long, moving essay about a young patient with a big problem. The piece begins with Jake in his junior year of high school with much on his plate: three Advanced Placement courses, a spot on the cross-country team, invitations to Model U.N. conferences – and significant anxiety.

The essay explores his anxiety, and the anxiety of teens like Jake.

The essay, which recently ran in The New York Times Magazine, traces the struggles of Jake, and the writer puts these problems in a larger context.

Teen anxiety: A growing problem?

In this Reading, we review this essay.

DG

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