Tag: psychiatry

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.”


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Reading of the Week: TikTok is Popular & Cool But Good Mental Health Information? Also, Telemedicine and Practice (Psych Services)

From the Editor

Clever cats. Cool dancing videos. Tips on everything from calligraphy to home decorations.

A billion people are estimated to use TikTok on a monthly basis. The social media platform is incredibly popular here – and around the globe. And, as with other social media, people increasingly use it as a source of medical information.

To date, little research has been done on the credibility of that information. In a new Canadian Journal of Psychiatry paper, Dr. Anthony Yeung (of the University of British Columbia) and his co-authors focus on ADHD. They find uneven results: “In this analysis of popular TikTok videos about ADHD, there were over 2.8 million views per video and each video was shared on average 31,000 times. Approximately half of the videos analyzed (52%) were misleading…” We consider the paper and its clinical implications.

Continuing on the theme of technology and practice, in the second selection, we look at a new Psychiatric Services paper. Lori Uscher-Pines (of the RAND Corporation) and her co-authors do a qualitative analysis of why psychiatrists choose telemedicine for some patients and not others. The authors conclude: “psychiatrists did not perceive intermittent in-person visits as essential for high-quality care.”


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Reading of the Week: Less & Less – Psychiatrists & Psychotherapy; Also, Transgender Individuals & Care (Psych Services) and Digital Mental Health (ANZJP)

From the Editor

“For much of the 20th century, psychotherapy was viewed as synonymous with psychiatry and was the primary treatment modality employed by outpatient psychiatrists.” 

Daniel Tadmon and Dr. Mark Olfson (both of Columbia University) observe this in a new paper. But times have changed; has the practice of psychiatry moved away from psychotherapy?

This week, there are three selections. The first is a new paper from The American Journal of Psychiatry that looks at psychotherapy provided by US psychiatrists. Drawing on decades of data, Tadmon and Olfson find: “While a small group of psychiatrists (11% – 15%) continued to provide psychotherapy in all patient visits, in the 2010s, about half of psychiatrists did not provide psychotherapy at all, and those who provided psychotherapy in some patient visits came to do so more and more rarely.” We consider the paper and its implications.

Sorry Freud: most psychiatrists don’t practice psychotherapy

In the second selection, Dr. June Sing Hong Lam and his co-authors consider the mental health experiences of transgender individuals. In a Psychiatric Services paper, they draw on administrative databases focusing on both ED visits and hospitalizations. They conclude: “This study found that transgender individuals presenting for acute mental health care were more likely to experience marginalization than cisgender individuals and to present to acute care with different diagnostic patterns.”

Finally, in the third selection, Dr. Aswin Ratheesh and Mario Alvarez-Jimenez (both of the University of Melbourne) consider digital mental health and the post-pandemic world. In the Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, they write about various problems (for instance, with digital privacy). Still, they see much potential: “Effective digital tools, especially when blended and responsive can radically improve the availability of mental health care in our corner of resource-rich, yet manpower-poor world.”

Please note that there will be no Reading next week.


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Reading of the Week: Does Psychiatry Need Rebranding?

From the Editor

Is psychiatry in need of rebranding?

Time for a new name?

It’s easy to think about the incredible progress our field has made in the past decades: the rise of more evidence-based treatments; the fading of stigma; the political dialogue that has begun.

But is “psychiatry” holding psychiatry back? That is, is our old name cutting into our new reality.

In this week’s Reading, we take a look at a short but provocative blog that argues for a rebranding.

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Reading of the Week: Mindless Psychiatry?

Recently, a psychiatric study on first episodes of psychosis made front-page news. People seemed quite surprised by the finding: that treatment programs that emphasized lower doses of psychotropic drugs, along with individual psychotherapy, family education and a focus on social adaptation, resulted in decreased symptoms and increased wellness.

So begins a thoughtful essay considering the state of psychiatry.

This week’s Reading: “Psychiatry’s Mind-Brian Problem” by Dr. George Makari, which was published recently in The New York Times.

You can find the article here:


In this short essay, Dr. Makari, a professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College, opens by contemplating the new American Journal of Psychiatry paper by Dr. John M. Kane et al., which shows that first-episode psychosis patients treated with more than just medications – individual psychotherapy and family education and a focus on social adaptation in the study – did better than those treated with just meds.

The real surprise… was that this was considered so surprising.

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