Tag: RCT

Reading of the Week: RCTs & Mental Health – the New CJP Paper; Also, AI and Discharge Summaries (Lancet DH), and Mehler Paperny on Action (Globe)

From the Editor

How has psychiatric research changed over time?

In the first selection, Sheng Chen (of CAMH) and co-authors attempt to answer this question by focusing on randomized controlled trials in mental health in a new paper for The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. Using the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, they look at almost 6,700 RCTs published over the past decades. They find: “the number of mental health RCTs increased exponentially from 1965 to 2009, reaching a peak in the years 2005–2009,” and observe a shift away from pharmacologic studies.

RCTs: the gold standard of research

In the second selection, Sajan B. Patel (of St Mary’s Hospital) et al. consider ChatGPT and health care in a new Lancet Digital Health Comment. Noting that discharge summaries tend to be under-prioritized, they wonder if this AI program may help in the future, freeing doctor to do other things. “The question for the future will be how, not if, we adopt this technology.”

And in the third selection, writer Anna Mehler Paperny focuses on campaigns to reduce stigma in a hard-hitting essay for The Globe and Mail. She argues that action is urgently needed to address mental health problems. She writes: “We need more than feel-good bromides. Every time someone prominent utters something about how important mental health is, the follow should be: So what? What are you doing about it? And when?”


Continue reading

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.


Continue reading

Reading of the Week: Do the Meds Work? Peter Kramer’s Essay, and More

From the Editor

Do the pills really work?

It’s a question that we clinicians are repeatedly asked. Antidepressants are widely prescribed, but often doubted – by our patients and by people in general.

This week, we look at an essay penned by Dr. Peter Kramer, an American psychiatrist. Dr. Kramer, you may recall, made a name for himself two decades ago by extolling the super-therapeutic powers of Prozac. Today, he has a more modest goal: explaining the role of antidepressants in the treatment of depression.

Then, looking to The New England Journal of Medicine, we consider a paper that discusses the rise and, perhaps, fall of randomized controlled trials as the “gold standard” of medical research.

DG Continue reading