From the Editor
“There are more psychiatrists of African origin in the US than in the whole of Africa. And I could actually say similar examples from the Philippines, or India, or many other countries. There is an enormous shortage of mental health resources…”
So comments Dr. Vikram Patel (of Harvard University). Across low-income nations, mental health care services are profoundly difficult to access. Could Shamir (Kiswahili for thrive) – an intervention built on simple psychological concepts and delivered by laypersons – be part of the solution?
This week, we look at a new paper from JAMA Psychiatry. Tom L. Osborn (of Kenya’s Shamiri Institute) and his co-authors describe the results of a study involving adolescents with depression and anxiety symptoms. “To our knowledge, this is one of the first adequately powered tests in this population of a scalable intervention grounded in simple positive psychological elements.” We look at the big paper.
But is the work ethical? In our second selection, we consider the editorial that accompanies the Osborn et al. paper. JAMA Psychiatry Editor Dr. Dost Öngür (of Harvard University) defends the study and his decision to publish it: “Because this trial was already conducted, we considered the obligations of the journal to be different than those of investigators and prospective reviewers. The question for us was whether there is a benefit to society by publishing the study as it was conducted.”
Finally, in our third selection, a reader writes us. Giorgio A. Tasca (of the University of Ottawa) responds to The New York Times article by Karen Brown considering chatbots. “Is scaling up an intervention with dubious research support – that results in low adherence and high dropout (and perhaps more demoralization as a result) – worth it?”
Please note that there will be no Reading next week.