MonthFebruary 2022

Reading of the Week: E-Cigs and Cessation – the New JAMA Paper; Also, Green Space & Schizophrenia (CJP) and Dr. Jessica Gregg on Needed Care (NEJM)

From the Editor

How to help him quit?

We often speak to our patients about the dangers of smoking – with middling success, especially with those who aren’t interested in cessation. Are e-cigarettes part of the solution? In a new JAMA Network Open paper, Karin A. Kasza (of the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center) and her co-authors report on a cohort study focused on this refractory population. “In this US nationally representative cohort study of 1600 adult daily cigarette smokers who did not initially use e-cigarettes and had no plans to ever quit smoking, subsequent daily e-cigarette use was significantly associated with an 8-fold greater odds of cigarette discontinuation compared with no e-cigarette use.”

In the second selection, we consider a new Canadian Journal of Psychiatry research letter. Dr. Martin Rotenberg (of the University of Toronto) and his co-authors look at green space and schizophrenia. A connection? They find one. “We found that residing in an area with the lowest amount of green space was associated with an increased risk of developing schizophrenia, independent of other sociodemographic and socioenvironmental factors.”

Finally, in the third selection, Dr. Jessica Gregg (of the Oregon Health and Science University) writes about her experiences as a physician and as a patient. In this New England of Journal paper, she talks personally about sudden illness and unsatisfactory health care. “I knew – and know – that our system of not-care for the sick and scared is broken. I knew – and know – that our system of un-care for people affected by addiction or poverty, for those who make bad choices and those who were never offered fair choices in the first place, is even more fractured.”

DG

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Reading of the Week: Physician, Heal Thyself – the New JAMA Paper on Visits for Mental Health; Also, the History of Physician Wellness (NEJM)

From the Editor

The days have been long. As we enter the third year of the pandemic, many are feeling it. 

What has the impact been on the mental health of us physicians? We have anecdotal evidence, but data has been lacking. In the first selection, we consider a new paper by Dr. Daniel T. Myran (of the University of Ottawa) and his co-authors. Drawing on data from 34,000 Ontario doctors, the authors considered MD visits for mental health and substance (in other words, doctors visiting their doctors), finding that such appointments were up 27% during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. “These findings may signal that the mental health of physicians has been negatively affected by the pandemic.” We look at the paper and the invited commentary that accompanies it.

In the second selection, Agnes Arnold-Forster (of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine) and her co-authors consider the evolving understanding of physician health by looking to history. They argue that three concepts – medical exceptionalism, medicalization, and an emphasis on individual responsibility – have harmed physicians, creating “excessive commitment and complete personal sacrifice.” They suggest an alternative. “By attending to the lessons of the past, we can envision a better future for patients and their physicians.”

DG


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Reading of the Week: Cannabis & Driving – a New RCT; Also, Prolonged Grief Disorder (JAMA Psych) and the Life and Legacy of Alan A. Stone (NYT)

From the Editor

It’s legal. It’s readily available. What are the implications for road safety?

Cannabis is the focus of more and more research. Little, though, has been studied for its effects on driving. In the first selection, Thomas D. Marcotte (of the University of California San Diego) and his co-authors consider cannabis and driving performance. In a new paper for JAMA Psychiatry, they report on an RCT: “In a placebo-controlled parallel study of regular cannabis users smoking cannabis with different THC content ad libitum, there was statistically significant worsening on driving simulator performance in the THC group compared with the placebo group.” We consider the paper and its clinical implications.

Next month, the American Psychiatric Association releases DSM-5-TR, the first major update to the DSM series in nine years. Though the diagnostic criteria of several disorders have been revised, there is only one new disorder: prolonged grief disorder. In the second selection, Holly G. Prigerson (of Cornell University) and her co-authors write about it for JAMA Psychiatry. “PGD is a serious mental disorder that puts the patient at risk for intense distress, poor physical health, shortened life expectancy, and suicide.”

Finally, in the third selection, we consider the life and legacy of Dr. Alan A. Stone, a psychiatrist who passed at the age of 92. In his obituary for The New York Times, reporter Clay Risen describes his incredible career – as a psychoanalyst, a Harvard professor (in both the faculties of law and medicine), and a former president of the American Psychiatric Association who championed dropping homosexuality as a psychiatric disorder.

DG

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Reading of the Week: Who’s Left Out of RCTs for Schizophrenia? (JAMA Psych) Also, Inman on Being the Mother of a Person with Schizophrenia (Medium)

From the Editor

Recently during a family meeting, a patient’s father leaned forward, looked me directly in the eye, and asked: “what would be the best for my son?”

As clinicians, we draw from many sources: personal experience, clinical guidelines, expert opinion, studies. For the latter, randomized clinical trials are considered to be the gold standard. But do such trials capture well the complexity of the patient sitting in front of you?

In the first selection, Heidi Taipale (of the University of Eastern Finland) and her co-authors offer new data to answer that question. Drawing on impressive databases (over 25 000 people diagnosed with schizophrenia spectrum disorders), they consider patients with schizophrenia in RCTs against real-world populations in a JAMA Psychiatry paper. They find: “In this study, we applied typical inclusion and exclusion criteria of RCTs to the real-world populations of individuals with schizophrenia in Finnish and Swedish national registries. We found that almost 80% of individuals with schizophrenia would be ineligible to participate in typical RCTs and are therefore not represented in them.”

Finland: Big Northern Lights and big databases

In this week’s other selection, we also consider schizophrenia but with a different perspective. What could we do better to support patients and their families? Susan Inman writes: “Mothers, like me, who provide caregiving for adult children with schizophrenia do not have much of a voice.” In a thoughtful essay for Medium.com, she speaks about problems that hinder an effective mental health system, including a lack of mental health literacy campaigns.

DG

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