Tag: JAMA

Reading of the Week: Health Care Workers & Suicide – the new JAMA Paper; Also, Esketamine vs Quetiapine for Treatment-Resistant Depression (NEJM)

From the Editor

Sure, we are biased – but ours is a different type of job. Working in health care can involve life and death situations and trying to help those who are at their most vulnerable. The stakes can be high. 

But how does such work affect the workers themselves? Dr. Mark Olfson (of Columbia University) and his co-authors try to answer that question in a new paper for JAMA. In it, they analyze suicides among six different types of health care workers, including physicians, by drawing on a US data that offers a nationally representative sample from 2008 to 2019, including 1.84 million people. “Relative to non-health care workers, registered nurses, health technicians, and health care support workers in the US were at increased risk of suicide.” We consider the paper and its implications.

And in the other selection, Dr. Andreas Reif (of the University Hospital Frankfurt) and his co-authors focus on treatment-resistant depression. In this new paper published in The New England Journal of Medicine, they report on the findings from a study where 676 patients were randomized to either esketamine nasal spray or an antipsychotic augmenting agent in addition to an antidepressant. “In patients with treatment-resistant depression, esketamine nasal spray plus an SSRI or SNRI was superior to extended-release quetiapine plus an SSRI or SNRI with respect to remission at week 8.” We also look at the accompanying editorial.

DG

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Reading of the Week: Written Exposure Therapy for PTSD – the New JAMA Psychiatry Paper; Also, #MedEd & Knowledge Translation

From the Editor

How to help those with PTSD? Prolonged exposure therapy (PE) and cognitive processing therapy (CPT) are supported by good evidence but both are resource intense and often have high drop-out rates, partly because of the requirement that patients complete homework. Is there an alternative?

In the first selection, we look at a new study considering written exposure therapy (WET), an emerging therapy where patients write about traumatic events – but the therapy doesn’t demand so much from the system (in terms of resources) or patients (in terms of homework assignments). Denise Sloan (of Boston University) and her colleagues conducted a noninferiority trial, comparing this therapy with prolonged exposure therapy for US veterans with PTSD, involving 178 participants from three centres. “We found WET was noninferior to PE, a treatment that includes more treatment sessions, longer sessions, and between-session assignments.” We consider the study, an Editorial responding to it, and mull the clinical implications.

In the last selection, John W. Ayers (of the University of California San Diego, La Jolla) and his co-authors consider social media and medical education in JAMA. They argue that #MedEd is a dynamic platform with the potential to democratize medical education – but also warn of the problems of misinformation. “The potential for #MedEd to improve medical education and the health sciences is considerable, while the risks of dismissing #MedEd is potentially greater.”

DG

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Reading of the Week: IPT for Depression in Pregnancy – the New JAMA Psych Paper; Also, Treating Opioid Use (JAMA) and Substance Ed for Docs (Wash Post)

From the Editor

Prenatal depression affects two: the mother and her fetus. But how to effectively address depressive symptoms?

In the first selection, from JAMA Psychiatry, Benjamin L. Hankin (of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) and his co-authors consider a focused psychotherapy for that population. In a RCT involving 234 participants, they find that IPT was helpful. “Brief IPT significantly reduced prenatal depression symptoms and MDD compared with EUC [enhanced usual care] among pregnant individuals from diverse racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds recruited from primary OB/GYN clinics.” We look at the paper and its clinical implications.

In the second selection, Caroline King (of the Oregon Health & Science University) and her co-authors consider buprenorphine for opioid use disorder with a focus on adolescent residential treatment. In a JAMA research letter, they report the findings which included every identified facility in the United States. “In contrast to the standard of care, only 1 in 4 US facilities offered buprenorphine and 1 in 8 offered buprenorphine for ongoing treatment.”

And, in the third selection, former AMA president Dr. Patrice A. Harris (of Columbia University) and her co-authors argue that physicians should know more about addiction treatment. In a Washington Post essay, they argue for more robust training. “Opioid use disorder is treatable, and medicines are readily available. But doctors cannot learn to help patients by taking a weekend course alone.”

DG


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Reading of the Week: Polypharmacy & Health – the New AJP Paper; Also, Melatonin Gummies (JAMA) & Mehler Paperny on Involuntary Care (Globe)

From the Editor

When it comes to antipsychotics, polypharmacy (the use of more than one antipsychotic) has fallen out of fashion – the psychopharmacological equivalent of bell bottoms. Providers worry about side effects and the long-term physical health implications. Are the concerns overstated? In the first selection, Heidi Taipale (of the University of Eastern Finland) and her coauthors analyze Finnish data for The American Journal of Psychiatry. The study includes almost 62,000 patients with schizophrenia with a median follow up period of more than 14 years, and they find that the use of more than one antipsychotic isn’t linked to poorer health outcomes. “The results show that antipsychotic monotherapy is not associated with a lower risk of hospitalization for severe physical health problems when compared with antipsychotic polypharmacy.” We consider the paper and its clinical implications.

Melatonin is a popular recommendation for sleep, but what’s the quality like? In the second selection from JAMA, Dr. Pieter A. Cohen (of Harvard University) and his co-authors try to answer that question with a focus on melatonin gummy products, looking at 30 brands. “The great majority of melatonin gummy products were inaccurately labeled, with most products exceeding the declared amount of melatonin and CBD.”

Gummy melatonin: colourful but what’s the quality?

In the third selection, in an essay for The Globe and Mail, journalist Anna Mehler Paperny writes about the push for more coercive care by different governments. Drawing on her personal experiences, she notes potential problems. “There is a role for coercive care. It’s arguably necessary for some people, sometimes. But used injudiciously, it can sour people on care and set them up for failure.”

There will be no Reading next week.

DG

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Reading of the Week: Mindfulness Self-Help for Depression? The New JAMA Psych Study; Also, Elderly Overdoses (JAMA Psych) and Sanford on Loss (JAMA)

From the Editor

He diagnosed himself. My patient suspected something was wrong, did some reading, and then completed a PHQ-9 survey (which he found on a website). But, like many, he struggled to get care.

The story is too familiar. Access to care is deeply problematic. Not surprisingly, then, low-cost interventions are of interest, with much work focused on CBT. What about mindfulness? In the first selection, Clara Strauss (of the University of Sussex) and her co-authors attempt to answer that question with direct comparison of mindfulness and CBT. In a new JAMA Psychiatry paper, they find: “practitioner-supported [mindfulness] was superior to standard recommended treatment (ie, practitioner-supported CBT) for mild to moderate depression in terms of both clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness.” We consider the paper and its implications.

In the second selection, Keith Humphreys (of Stanford University) and Chelsea L. Shover (of the University of California, Los Angeles) look at overdose deaths in older Americans for JAMA Psychiatry. Drawing on a database, they find a quadrupling between 2002 and 2021. “Even though drug overdose remains an uncommon cause of death among older adults in the US, the quadrupling of fatal overdoses among older adults should be considered in evolving policies focused on the overdose epidemic.” 

And in the third selection, Dr. Ethan L. Sanford (of the University of Texas) writes about the loss of his infant daughter. In a deeply personal essay for JAMA, he describes her illness and death – and his re-evaluation of his career. “I sometimes wish every physician could understand the loss of a child. I wish they could understand how I miss Ceci achingly, how I miss her in my bones.”

DG

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Reading of the Week: CBT for Depression – the Latest Evidence; Also, Digital Mental Health (World Psych) and Dr. Castro-Frenzel on Her Cancer (JAMA)

From the Editor

Cognitive behavioural therapy is widely used for the treatment of depression – but the last significant meta-analysis was published a decade ago. What’s the latest evidence? 

In the first selection, Pim Cuijpers (of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) and his co-authors try to answer this question with a new meta-analysis including more than 400 randomized trials with almost 53 000 patients (yes, you read that correctly). In this World Psychiatry paper, they compare the therapy with controls, other therapies, and medications. They write: “We can conclude that CBT is effective in the treatment of depression with a moderate to large effect size, and that its effect is still significant up to 12 months.” We consider the paper and its clinical implications.

Beck: the father of CBT

In the second selection, Dr. John Torous (of Harvard University) and his co-authors look at digital mental health. Despite widespread use of smartphones – perhaps 80% of the world’s population now has access to one – “digital mental health is not transforming care.” In this Editorial for World Psychiatry, they wonder why. They also point a way forward: “Developing a new generation of digital mental health tools/services to support more accessible, effective and equitable care is the true innovation ready to be stoked today by each person who becomes empowered to connect, set up, engage, start/stop, and demand more from mental health technology.”

Finally, in the third selection, Dr. Karla Castro-Frenzel (of the University of Central Florida) writes about a patient with advanced lung cancer. As it turns out, she’s that patient. In this personal essay published in JAMA, she writes about being a doctor and a patient. “My ultimate hope… is that we can create space for illness as well as wellness. In helping our colleagues feel safe and supported when they become patients, we rehumanize our environments and our very selves.”

DG

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Reading of the Week: Tobacco & Cessation – the New NEJM Paper; Also, the Health of Health Care Workers (JAMA)

From the Editor

He could barely get out of bed because his depression was so severe. Yet he asked to be discharged because he wanted to smoke.

So often our patients struggle with their tobacco use disorder. But what medications have the most evidence? Do apps help? What should a clinician say during a brief encounter? This week, we consider a new paper written by Dr. Peter Selby and Laurie Zawertailo (both of the University of Toronto), just published in The New England Journal of Medicine. The authors summarize the latest in the literature, offering a relevant review that provides answers to these and other questions. And they note the devastation caused by tobacco use: “The risk of lung cancer is 25 times as high and the risk of coronary heart disease or stroke is 2 to 4 times as high among smokers as among nonsmokers.” We summarize the paper and mull its clinical implications.

And in the other selection, Dr. Lisa S. Rotenstein (of Harvard University) and her co-authors think about well-being and burnout in a JAMA paper. In recent years, this topic has gathered more and more attention. That said, Dr. Rotenstein and her co-authors don’t focus on physicians and nurses, as many authors have, but consider other health care workers. They argue: “The everyday functioning of the health care system depends on hundreds of role types. Leaders must seek to address obstacles and causes of work-related frustration not only for physicians and nurses, but also for the home health care workers, nurses’ aides, respiratory therapists, and many others who serve patients every day.” 

DG

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Reading of the Week: Online DBT – the New JAMA Paper; Also, Prediabetes and Preaddiction, and Greenberg on the Delusional Ones (Acad Psych)

From the Editor

He cut himself out of frustration with a break-up. She came to the ED with suicidal thoughts after losing her job.

Some patients need help with ongoing self-harm and suicidal thoughts – but access to care is challenging, particularly for dialectal behavioural therapy. Could a simple intervention help? Could it be delivered virtually?

In the first selection, Dr. Gregory E. Simon (of Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute) and his co-authors detail a pragmatic randomized trial that evaluated two low-intensity outreach programs, aiming to reduce risk of self-harm and suicidal behaviour. In this new JAMA study, they conclude: “Compared with usual care, offering care management did not significantly reduce the risk of self-harm, and offering brief online dialectical behavior therapy skills training increased the risk of self-harm among at-risk adults.” We look at the study.

In the second selection, Thomas McLellan (of the University of Pennsylvania) and his co-authors note the failings of substance treatment and then mull a way forward: considering the approach to diabetic care and the concept of prediabetes. Should we embrace preaddiction? They write: “the diabetes example shows that an early intervention approach can work given a comprehensive, sustained effort.”

And in the third selection, Dr. Norman R. Greenberg (of Yale University) contemplates his patient’s psychosis and his approach. Drawing on an old Hasidic tale, this resident of psychiatry stops debating with his patient; he chooses to listen to him instead. He writes: “I may not always be able to convince others of my perspective, I hope that I am able to convince others that we share similar goals and that I care about them.”

DG


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Reading of the Week: Way Up – Alcohol-Related Deaths During the Pandemic (JAMA); Also, Addressing the Opioid Crisis (CJP) and the NYT on Grief

From the Editor

Three patients have recently told their stories to me. With his business failing, he turned to alcohol. When she couldn’t get hours at the restaurant because of the lockdown, she started drinking in the mornings. After a decade of sobriety, he explained that he found comfort in alcohol after his job loss.

These stories aren’t, unfortunately, surprising. With the pandemic, substance use appears to be on the rise. But what about substance-related deaths? In the first selection, we look at a new research letter from JAMA. Aaron M. White (of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism) and his co-authors examine alcohol-related deaths in the United States and the impact of the pandemic. They conclude: “The number and rate of alcohol-related deaths increased approximately 25% between 2019 and 2020, the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.” We consider the paper and its clinical implications.

In the second selection, Dr. Tony P. George (of the University of Toronto) and his co-authors focus on the opioid crisis. In this Canadian Journal of Psychiatry commentary, they argue for a stronger approach to help those with opioid use disorder (OUD), specifically by improving the psychosocial interventions available. “While psychosocial interventions are often expensive and time consuming, they do make a difference in the lives of patients with OUD and those at risk for fatal opioid overdoses, especially when combined with broad psychosocial supports that address social determinants of health.”

And in the third selection, continuing our consideration of the first update to the DSM series in nine years, we look at a New York Times article, just published. Reporter Ellen Barry writes about prolonged grief disorder: “The new diagnosis was designed to apply to a narrow slice of the population who are incapacitated, pining and ruminating a year after a loss, and unable to return to previous activities.”

DG

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Reading of the Week: Resilience after Disaster – Lessons from Japan; Also, Schizophrenia & Spending (CJP) and Dr. Brandeland on Her Father & His Addiction (JAMA)

From the Editor

My patient was involved in a terrible car accident. Though physically unharmed, she’s never really recovered (mentally). Her co-worker, sitting in the seat beside her, barely took off any time from work.

Why are some people resilient and others aren’t?

In The British Journal of Psychiatry, Dr. Taku Saito (of the National Defense Medical College) and his co-authors explore this question, focusing on a natural disaster. Drawing on an impressive database of first responders involved in the 2011 Japanese earthquake rescue/recovery effort, they do a seven-year prospective cohort study. They find: “The majority of first responders… were resilient and developed few or no PTSD symptoms.” Of course, some did develop mental health problems. The risk factors? Older age, personal disaster experiences, and working conditions. We consider the big paper.

In the second selection, Andrew J. Stewart (of the University of Calgary) and his co-authors analyze health spending in a new Canadian Journal of Psychiatry paper. They focus on people with schizophrenia, looking at a 10-year period. “Healthcare spending among patients with schizophrenia continues to increase and may be partially attributable to growing rates of multimorbidity within this population.”

And, in the third selection, Dr. Megan Ann Brandeland (of Stanford University) writes about her father’s death. In JAMA, she discusses his struggles and notes that – early in his career as a physician – a patient had a tragic outcome. “My hope in sharing this story is to encourage more physicians to share their own stories, to reduce the stigma around mental health, trauma, and addiction among physicians, and to honor my father’s life and the goodness he brought to the world.”

Please note that there will be no Reading next week; we will resume on 31 March 2022.

DG

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