Tag: AI

Reading of the Week: Preventing Postpartum Depression in Pakistan – the New Nature Med Study; Also, Deaths of Despair and ChatGPT & Abstracts

From the Editor

Imagine that you are asked to design a program to prevent depression in a population at risk. Would you hire psychiatrists? Look to nurses? Tap the expertise of psychologists? All three?

In the first selection from Nature Medicine, Pamela J. Surkan (of Johns Hopkins University) and her co-authors describe a study that focused on prevention. As they worked in Pakistan – a nation with few mental health providers by Western standards – they chose to train lay people, teaching them to deliver CBT. In their single-blind, randomized controlled trial, 1 200 women who were pregnant and had anxiety (but not depression) were given enhanced usual care or CBT. “We found reductions of 81% and 74% in the odds of postnatal MDE and of moderate-to-severe anxiety…” We discuss the paper and its implications.

In the second selection, Joseph Friedman and Dr. Helena Hansen (both of the University of California, Los Angeles) look at deaths of despair in the United States in a research letter for JAMA Psychiatry. Their work builds on the idea that some deaths are related to the hopelessness of a person’s social or economic circumstance; past publications focused largely on White Americans. Friedman and Hansen drew on more than two decades of data, including ethnicity, from a US database, finding a different pattern and that: “Rising inequalities in deaths of despair among American Indian, Alaska Native and Black individuals were largely attributable to disproportionate early mortality from drug- and alcohol-related causes…”

A recent survey finds that psychiatrists see AI as potentially helpful with paperwork and diagnosing patients. But could AI help you keep up with the literature? In the third selection from Annals of Family Medicine, Dr. Joel Hake (of the University of Kansas) and his co-authors used ChatGPT to produce short summaries of studies, then evaluated their quality, accuracy, and bias. “We suggest that ChatGPT can help family physicians accelerate review of the scientific literature.”

DG

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Reading of the Week: tDCS for Depression – the New JAMA Psych Paper; Also, Psychiatrists & AI and Dr. Daniel Gorman on Charlatan Syndrome

From the Editor

In her autobiography, psychiatrist Linda Gask writes about her struggles with depression and the moment she realized that she was better: she started to hear the birds chirping again. For many of our patients, the songs of the birds remain elusive. Antidepressants work but some patients don’t respond, and others are cool to the idea of medication management. CBT is effective but difficult to access. What about Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) – an intervention that could be done at home?

Dr. Lucas Borrione (of the University of São Paulo) and his co-authors try to answer that question in a new JAMA Psychiatry paper. They report on a randomized clinical trial including 210 Brazilian adults with a major depressive episode who were offered tDCS and a digital intervention; the study featured two sham interventions. “The findings indicate that unsupervised home use tDCS should not be currently recommended in clinical practice.” We consider the paper and its clinical implications.

Would tDCS have helped?

Artificial intelligence is having a moment. Not surprisingly, many are seeing the possibilities for mental health care, from better therapy to reduced paperwork. In the second selection, from Psychiatry Research, Charlotte Blease (of Uppsala University) and her co-authors report on the findings of a survey of 138 psychiatrists with both qualitative and quantitative data. “The foremost interest was around the potential of these tools to assist psychiatrists with documentation.”

And in the third selection, Dr. Daniel Gorman (of the University of Toronto) writes about the struggles of taking a child to Disney World in JAMA. Any parent – or aunt or cousin or older sib – can relate. But Dr. Gorman notes the particular challenges that he faces: he’s a child psychiatrist. “Sometimes I fantasize about sharing with parents my doubts about parenting strategies, but the risks always seem too great – the risk of discrediting myself and my profession and the risk of robbing parents of agency and hope.”

DG

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Reading of the Week: Can Chatbots & AI Help Access? The new Nature Med Paper; Also, Telepsych in the US and the Latest in the News

From the Editor

More and more organizations use AI; today, a chatbot might assist you in ordering a pizza or tracking a package. But could a chatbot help our patients find the mental health care that they need? Could it help self-identified members of ethnic groups – who historically do less well in getting services – with access?

Johanna Habicht (of Limbic) and her co-authors try to answer these questions in a new study for Nature Medicine. They looked at the use of a chatbot for self-referral against the standard option in the UK’s NHS when patients seek psychological care. The resulting multisite observational study involved almost 130 000 people. They found that AI increased referrals (especially, in terms of diversity). “Here we demonstrate that digital tools can reduce the accessibility gap by addressing several key barriers.” We look at the study and mull its implications.

As we move past the pandemic, we ask: is virtual care routinely offered for mental disorders? In the second selection from JAMA Health Forum, Jonathan Cantor (of the RAND Corporation) and his colleagues consider mental telehealth – or telepsychiatry, to use the older term – in the United States. With a secret shopper approach, trained callers phoned more than 1 400 US clinics, posing as potential clients with mental health problems. They found most offered virtual care. Further: “There were no differences in the availability of mental telehealth services based on the prospective patient’s clinical condition, perceived race or ethnicity, or sex.”

And, finally, we explore the latest in the news with recent articles from The Guardian and The New York Times. Among the topics: the mental health struggles of rising political star Lina Hidalgo, privacy and mental health apps, and help for those with schizophrenia and homelessness in Cameroon.

DG

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Reading of the Week: Global Burden of Schizophrenia – the new Molecular Psych Study; Also, MedEd’s Evolution & Saxbe on Helping Depressed Teens

From the Editor

Is there more mental illness than before? Or is there greater awareness? 

Dr. Marco Solmi (of the University of Ottawa) and his co-authors attempt to answer these questions in a new paper for Molecular Psychiatry that focuses on schizophrenia. Drawing on 30 years of data globally, they consider prevalence (how many have the illness), incidence (the number who develop it each year), and the disability-adjusted life-years (the loss of one healthy year of life) using more than 86 000 points of data. They find: “Globally, we show that, from 1990 to 2019, raw prevalence increased by over 65%, incidence by 37.11%, DALYs by over 65%, but age-adjusted prevalence and incidence estimates showed a slight decrease, and burden did not change.” We consider the paper and its implications.

Textbooks, highlighters, and classrooms? The world of medical education is changing. Today, we have AI, sim, and e-learning. In the second selection, we look at the new Quick Takes podcast with Dr. Ivan Silver (of the University of Toronto), former vice president of education at CAMH who marvels at the potential. “This is the renaissance period for health professional education.” 

And in the third selection, psychologist Darby Saxbe (of the University of Southern California) writes in The New York Times about ways to help depressed adolescents. Drawing on recent studies showing the failure of school-based psychosocial interventions, she argues for a different approach. “It’s critical to keep pace with the evidence and attend to the first principle of all health care providers: First, do no harm.”

DG

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Reading of the Week: MAiD, Suicide & the Patient-Family Perspective – the new CJP Paper; Also, AI & Misinformation, and Palus on Mental Health Merch 

From the Editor

In March, medical assistance in dying will be expanded in Canada to include those with mental illness. Not surprisingly, many people feel strongly about it, with some seeing the change as a natural extension of basic rights and others arguing that it will be a profound mistake. 

What do patients and family members think? How does it relate to their views of suicide in general? Lisa Hawke (of the University of Toronto) and her co-authors attempt to answer these questions in a new Canadian Journal of Psychiatry paper. They do a qualitative analysis, interviewing 30 people with mental illness and 25 family members on medical assistance in dying when the sole underlying medical condition is mental illness (or MAiD MI-SUMC). “Participants acknowledge the intersections between MAiD MI-SUMC and suicidality and the benefits of MAiD MI-SUMC as a more dignified way of ending suffering, but also the inherent complexity of considering [such] requests in the context of suicidality.” We consider the paper and its implications.

In the second selection, Dr. Scott Monteith (of Michigan State University) and his co-authors write about artificial intelligence and misinformation in a new British Journal of Psychiatry paper. They note the shift in AI – from predictive models to generative AI – and its implications for patients. “Misinformation created by generative AI about mental illness may include factual errors, nonsense, fabricated sources and dangerous advice.”

And in the third selection, writer Shannon Palus discusses the rise of “mental health merch” – clothing items and other merchandise that tout mental health problems, including a pricey sweatshirt with “Lexapro” written on the front (the US brand name for escitalopram). In Slate, Palus discusses her coolness to such things. “As a person who struggles with her own mental health, as a Lexapro taker – well, I hate this trend, honestly! I find it cloying and infantilizing.”

Note that there will be no Reading next week.

DG

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Reading of the Week: Self-stigma & Depression – the new JAD Study; Also, ChatGPT & Mental Health Care, and Dr. Catherine Hickey on the Opioid Crisis

From the Editor 

Depression is the result of character weakness. So explained my patient who had a major depressive disorder and hesitated to take medications.

Though fading, stigma about mental illness continues to exist, including self-stigma, the negative thoughts and beliefs that patients have about their own disease – as with my patient. How common is self-stigma? How does its prevalence differ around the globe? What are risk factors for it? Nan Du (of the University of Hong Kong) and co-authors attempt to answer these questions in a new Journal of Affective Disorders paper. They do a systematic review and meta-analysis of self-stigma for people with depression, drawing on 56 studies with almost 12 000 participants, and they a focus on international comparisons. “The results showed that the global prevalence of depression self-stigma was 29%. Levels of self-stigma varied across regions, but this difference was not significant.” We consider the paper and its clinical implications.

In this week’s second selection, we look at ChatGPT and mental health care. Dr. John Torous (of Harvard University) joins me for a Quick Takes podcast interview. He sees potential for patients – including making clinical notes more accessible by bridging language and knowledge divides – and for physicians, who may benefit from a more holistic differential diagnosis and treatment plan based on multiple data sets. He acknowledges problems with privacy, accuracy, and ChatGPT’s tendency to “hallucinate,” a term he dislikes. “We want to really be cautious because these are complex pieces of software.” 

And in the third selection, Dr. Catherine Hickey (of Memorial University) writes about the opioid crisis for Academic Psychiatry. The paper opens personally, with Dr. Hickey describing paramedics trying to help a young man who had overdosed. She considers the role of psychiatry and contemplates societal biases. “[I]n a better world, the needless deaths of countless young people would never be tolerated, regardless of their skin color.”

DG

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Reading of the Week: Fatal Overdoses & Drug Decriminalization – the new JAMA Psych Paper; Also, ChatGPT vs Residents, and Chang on Good Psychiatry

From the Editor

Does decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of street drugs reduce overdoses? Proponents argue yes because those who use substances can seek care – including in emergency situations – without fear of police involvement and charges. Opponents counter that decriminalization means fewer penalties for drug use, resulting in more misuse and thus more overdoses. The debate can be shrill – but lacking in data.

Spruha Joshi (of New York University) and co-authors bring numbers to the policy discussion with a new JAMA Psychiatry paper. They analyze the impact of decriminalization in two states, Oregon and Washington, contrasting overdoses there and in other US states that didn’t decriminalize. “This study found no evidence of an association between legal changes that removed or substantially reduced criminal penalties for drug possession in Oregon and Washington and fatal drug overdose rates.” We consider the paper and its implications.

In the second selection, Dr. Ashwin Nayak (of Stanford University) and his co-authors look at AI for the writing of patient histories. In a new research letter for JAMA Internal Medicine, they do a head-to-head (head-to-CPU?) comparison with ChatGPT and residents both writing patient histories (specifically, the history of present illness, or HPI). “HPIs generated by a chatbot or written by senior internal medicine residents were graded similarly by internal medicine attending physicians.”

And in the third selection, medical student Howard A. Chang (of Johns Hopkins University) wonders about “good” psychiatry in a paper for Academic Psychiatry. He reflects on the comments of surgeons, pediatricians, and obstetricians, and then mulls the role of our specialty. “I have gleaned that a good psychiatrist fundamentally sees and cares about patients with mental illness as dignified human beings, not broken brains. The good psychiatrist knows and treats the person in order to treat the disease.”

DG

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Reading of the Week: Antidepressants & Bipolar – the New NEJM Paper; Also, AI & Med Ed and Humphreys on Language

From the Editor

What’s the role of antidepressants in the treatment of bipolar disorder? That question is openly debated.

In a New England Journal of Medicine paper that was just published, Dr. Lakshmi N. Yatham (of the University of British Columbia) and his co-authors try to shed light on this issue. In their study, people with bipolar depression who were in remission were given an antidepressant or a placebo and followed for a year. The study involved 209 people from three countries. “[A]djunctive treatment with escitalopram or bupropion XL that continued for 52 weeks did not show a significant benefit as compared with treatment for 8 weeks in preventing relapse of any mood episode.” We consider the paper and its implications.

In the second selection, Drs. Avraham Cooper (of Ohio State University) and Adam Rodman (of Harvard University) consider AI and medical education in The New England Journal of Medicine. They talk about previous technological advancements in history, including the stethoscope. AI, in their view, will change practice and ethics – with clear implications for training and education. “If we don’t shape our own future, powerful technology companies will happily shape it for us.”

And in the third selection, Keith Humphreys (of Stanford University) writes about words and word choices to describe vulnerable populations in an essay for The Atlantic. He notes historic disputes, such as the use of the term patient. “[M]aking these judgments in a rigorous, fact-based way would prevent experts, policy makers, and the general public from being distracted by something easy – arguing about words – when we need to focus on doing something much harder: solving massive social problems.” 

DG

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Reading of the Week: tDCS vs Sham for Depression – the New Lancet Paper; Also, US Ketamine Seizures and Dr. Lamas on Medical Practice & AI

From the Editor

He’s tried several medications, but still struggles with his depression. The story is too familiar. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is an option, and increasingly the focus of research. With relatively few side effects and the possibility of doing the treatment at home, the advantages of tDCS are clear.

But how do patients taking antidepressants respond? In the first selection, from the pages of The Lancet, Dr. Gerrit Burkhardt (of the University of Munich) and his co-authors report the findings of an impressive study, with a comparison against sham treatment, across eight sites, and involving triple blinding. “Active tDCS was not superior to sham stimulation during a 6-week period. Our trial does not support the efficacy of tDCS as an additional treatment to SSRIs in adults with MDD.” We consider the paper, an accompanying Comment, and the implications.

In the second selection, Joseph J. Palamar (of New York University) and his colleagues analyze data on US ketamine seizures in a Research Letter for JAMA Psychiatry. They view seizures as a measure of recreational and nonmedical use, and conclude: “These data suggest increasing availability of illicit ketamine.”

And in this week’s third selection, Dr. Daniela J. Lamas (of Harvard University), an internist, writes about AI for The New York Times. In thinking about medical practice, she sees artificial intelligence doing more and more, and ultimately helping with diagnosis. She also sees trade-offs. Still, she concludes: “Beyond saving us time, the intelligence in A.I. – if used well – could make us better at our jobs.”

Note that there will be no Reading next week.

DG

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Reading of the Week: Lithium Prescribing – the New CJP Paper; Also, AI vs. Doctors (JAMA Int Med) and Bergner on Compulsory Mental Health (NYT)

From the Editor

For patients with bipolar disorder, lithium is an important medication, shown to reduce hospitalizations and suicides better than newer agents. But has it fallen out of fashion? International reports suggest that it has.

In the first selection, Samreen Shafiq (of the University of Calgary) and her co-authors try to answer this question with Canadian data in a new paper for The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. They draw on a decade of Alberta prescription data with more than 580,000 lithium scripts. “This population-based study suggests that the overall number of new and prevalent lithium users is decreasing in Alberta between the years of 2009 and 2018, but the observed pattern suggests that this decrease may have stopped by the end of our study interval.” We consider the paper and its clinical implications.

In the second selection, John W. Ayers (of University of California San Diego) considers AI-generated responses to health care questions posted on social media, like the need to seek medical attention after a minor head injury with a presentation of a lump and a headache. In a JAMA Internal Medicine paper, they compare ChatGPT answers to those of physicians in terms of quality and empathy. “In this cross-sectional study, a chatbot generated quality and empathetic responses to patient questions posed in an online forum.”

The debate over coercive care is hot, with proposals to rebalance patients’ rights actively discussed in New York City, Alberta, and California. In the third selection, author Daniel Bergner writes that we should look for alternatives to medications. In a New York Times essay, he argues that antipsychotics are problematic. “By doubling down on existing methods, we’re only beckoning more failure.”

DG

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