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New from CPD Online [CPD Online]

2017-09-01T00:09:00-07:00




Controversy over exercise therapy for chronic fatigue syndrome: continuing the debate [Round the corner]

2017-09-01T00:09:00-07:00

EDITOR’S SUMMARY

In a recent Round the Corner, Mitchell commented on a Cochrane Review of exercise therapy for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). One of the trials included in that review, and discussed by Mitchell, was the PACE trial. In this month’s Round the Corner we are publishing a response we received from authors of the PACE trial (Chalder, White & Sharpe), together with Mitchell’s reply. Ed.




Clinical staging models: from general medicine to mental disorders [Articles]

2017-09-01T00:09:00-07:00

Revisions of international classification systems for mental disorders have focused on improving the reliability of diagnostic criteria. However, the uncertain validity of the current diagnostic categories means that they do not always fulfil their key purposes, namely to guide treatment and predict outcomes. This is especially true when traditional diagnostic approaches are applied to adolescents and young adults with emerging illnesses. A clinical staging model, similar to those used in general medicine, could improve diagnosis in psychiatry and aid treatment decision-making, especially if applied to individuals aged about 15–25 years, which is the peak age range for the onset of severe mental disorders. Staging models may offer a new framework for the development of interventions with high benefit and low risk, and for research into neurobiological and psychosocial risk factors. However, this approach is not without controversy: some experts oppose its introduction, some argue that it represents a transdiagnostic model, and some suggest it is only viable if disorder-specific models are used.




Why sex is important: background for helping patients with their sexual lives [Articles]

2017-09-01T00:09:00-07:00

Therapy for sexual problems is not solely based on findings from scientific studies; much of it has to do with intuitive knowledge that comes from personal and clinical experience. The author suggests that an ideal way to begin education about helping with patients’ sexual identity, sexual function and relational concerns is to consider why sex is important. Answering this question illuminates the subtle roles sexual behaviour play in our lives. These roles are explained by providing clinically based responses to twelve questions: How are adults nurtured in sexual relationships? How is psychological intimacy created? What is learnt over time through sex? What accounts for the pleasures of sex? Why is sex important? Why is sexual experience unstable? What is a couple’s sexual equilibrium? What is sensuality? Is a life of sexual pleasure possible? What is sexual health? What are the sources of distress about sex? How do these concepts facilitate therapy?




Does childhood trauma play a role in the aetiology of psychosis? A review of recent evidence [Articles]

2017-09-01T00:09:00-07:00

There has been a resurgence of interest in the role of childhood trauma in the aetiology of psychosis. In this review, recent findings on the association between childhood trauma and a continuum of psychotic symptoms are presented. Evidence of the association between specific childhood trauma subtypes and psychotic symptoms is examined, with a brief discussion of some current hypotheses about the potential mechanisms underlying the associations that have been found. Some practice implications of these findings are also highlighted.




Not a one-way street: COMMENTARY ON... DOES CHILDHOOD TRAUMA PLAY A ROLE IN THE AETIOLOGY OF PSYCHOSIS? [Commentary]

2017-09-01T00:09:00-07:00

Coughlan & Cannon have provided an extremely useful review, highlighting the evidence for the association between childhood trauma and psychosis. This is relevant to those working with individuals with psychosis across all age ranges. This commentary discusses further some of the points raised, the complexity of the association and developmental aspects.




Schizophrenia is not a kind of PTSD: COMMENTARY ON... DOES CHILDHOOD TRAUMA PLAY A ROLE IN THE AETIOLOGY OF PSYCHOSIS? [Commentary]

2017-09-01T00:09:00-07:00

Coughlan & Cannon’s article provides a helpful review of the current state of evidence regarding the connection between childhood trauma and psychotic-like symptoms. This commentary focuses on the clinical implications by noting that much of the data comes from studies in non-patient populations and to some extent depends on the underlying assumption of the continuum model of psychosis. I reconsider the presented data focusing purely on clinical diagnoses of psychosis, and consider the implications of the association between trauma and psychosis by looking at the evidence base for specific trauma-focused therapies in psychosis.




Thought disorder [Refreshment]

2017-09-01T00:09:00-07:00

We review thought disorder in psychopathology, including how one can assess it clinically, useful psychometric measures and its clinical importance. In the final section we discuss how recent studies in neuropsychology and neuroimaging have helped understand the mechanisms of abnormal speech and languages in psychotic illnesses.




Functional near-infrared spectroscopy in psychiatry [Articles]

2017-09-01T00:09:00-07:00

Functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) has been used in healthcare and medical research for the past two decades. In particular, the use of fNIRS in academic and clinical psychiatry has increased rapidly owing to its advantages over other neuroimaging modalities. fNIRS is a tool that can potentially supplement clinical interviews and mental state examinations to establish a psychiatric diagnosis and monitor treatment progress. This article provides a review of the theoretical background of fNIRS, key principles of its applications in psychiatry and its limitations, and shares a vision of its future applicability in psychiatric research and clinical practice.




Disordered eating in older people: some causes and treatments [Articles]

2017-09-01T00:09:00-07:00

This overview considers causes of disordered eating, including eating disorders, in older people. Eating disorders are becoming more common in older adults and research has shown a related mortality of 21%. The wide range of medical and pharmacological causes of weight loss in older people means that eating disorders may go undetected, occurring insidiously and surreptitiously.




Therapeutic communities and planned environments for serious offenders in English prisons [Articles]

2017-09-01T00:09:00-07:00

Several English prisons contain democratic therapeutic communities (TCs) for personality disordered offenders, and addiction TCs for serious substance misusers. This article describes how these are organised and comments on how they are specifically tailored and accredited for use in custodial settings. It also describes ‘psychologically informed planned environments’ (PIPEs), offender pathways for those with personality disorders and psychopathy which provide additional support for psychological treatment. It ends by explaining how ‘enabling environments’ are assessed, since these are now becoming widely adopted in prisons to reverse toxic environments – which affect staff, the prison and the outside world as well as the individual prisoner – and to counter negative learning found in custodial institutions.




Danger in deep water or just ripples in the pool: has the Pool judgment changed the law on expert evidence? [Articles]

2017-09-01T00:09:00-07:00

The professional regulatory cases of the psychiatrist Dr Richard Pool and the neuropathologist Dr Waney Squier have given rise to concerns among expert psychiatric witnesses, and indeed medical experts in general. Here we restate the law on expert evidence with particular reference to the judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of Kennedy v Cordia. We emphasise that Pool does not change the law regarding ‘what is expertise’; in particular, the case does not establish restrictive, status-based tests governing the admissibility of expert evidence such as according to whether an expert psychiatric witness has undergone higher training, is on the specialist register as a specialist in a particular field or is a consultant. Rather, expertise continues to be legally defined in terms of a combination of qualification, knowledge and experience. Crucially, the test of medical expertise in legal proceedings is a legal test and not one determined within a medical paradigm.




New from CPD Online [CPD Online]

2017-07-03T00:08:02-07:00







Does the evidence support parent-infant psychotherapy?: COMMENTARY ON... COCHRANE CORNER [Round the corner]

2017-07-03T00:08:02-07:00

Parent–infant psychotherapy (PIP) is a psychoanalytic intervention that aims to improve parental and infant mental health. There is uncertainty about the clinical effectiveness of this intervention, particularly in comparison with other interventions. Based on a limited number of trials, this month’s Cochrane Corner review aimed to summarise the best evidence available. Although the review found some tentative support for PIP in relation to attachment outcomes, overall the evidence was of low quality and PIP was not found to be more effective than treatment as usual or other interventions. This commentary contextualises and summarises the findings, and considers their implications for researchers and clinicians.




Community treatment orders: are they useful? [Articles]

2017-07-03T00:08:02-07:00

In the wake of the deinstitutionalisation of mental health services, community treatment orders (CTOs) have been introduced in around 75 jurisdictions worldwide. They make it a legal requirement for patients to adhere to treatment plans outside of hospital. To date, about 60 CTO outcome studies have been conducted. All studies with a methodology strong enough to infer causality conclude that CTOs do not have the intended effect of preventing relapse and reducing hospital admissions. Despite this, CTOs are still debated, possibly reflecting different attitudes to the role of evidence-based practice in community psychiatry. There are clinical, ethical, legal, economic and professional reasons why the current use of CTOs should be reconsidered.




Ethical dilemmas in psychiatry: when teams disagree [Articles]

2017-07-03T00:08:02-07:00

Many ethical dilemmas in medicine are associated with highly unusual clinical situations and are an almost daily challenge for mental health teams. We describe the ethical issues that arose in relation to a significant difference of opinion between team members about using nasogastric clozapine in the treatment of a severely ill patient. We discuss how conflicting emotions and perspectives within teams acquire ethical significance and how negotiation and reflection are essential for good-quality ethical reasoning to take place.




Compassion-focused therapy with children and adolescents [Articles]

2017-07-03T00:08:02-07:00

Compassion-focused therapy (CFT) is embedded in an evolutionary, functional analysis of psychopathology, with a focus on affiliative, caring and compassion processes. CFT has been applied in a number of adult settings, but its clinical applications in child and adolescent psychopathology and psychotherapy have not been systematically explored. This article describes the applications of CFT in paediatric populations. Specifically, the following developmental considerations are discussed: the unique importance of parent–child and attachment relationships for the development of self-compassion, being open to compassion from others and being compassionate to others; the potential effect of compassion training on the maturing brain (affective regulation systems); and the therapeutic targeting of shame and self-criticism to alleviate psychological distress and enhance the effectiveness of cognitive–behavioural interventions.




Managing aggression in epilepsy [Articles]

2017-07-03T00:08:02-07:00

Behavioural changes associated with epilepsy can be challenging for patients and clinicians. Evidence suggests an association between aggression and epilepsy that involves various neurophysiological and neurochemical disturbances. Anti-epileptics have variable effects on behaviour and cognition that need consideration. Early detection and careful consideration of history, symptomatology and possible common comorbid psychiatric disorders is essential. Appropriate investigations should be considered to aid diagnosis, including electroencephalogram (EEG), video EEG telemetry and brain imaging. Optimising treatment of epilepsy, treatment of psychiatric comorbidities and behavioural management can have a major positive effect on patients’ recovery and well-being.




HIV infection and its psychiatric manifestations: a clinical overview [Articles]

2017-07-03T00:08:02-07:00

Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has led to a reduction in HIV-related morbidity and mortality, and the life expectancy of HIV-positive individuals has improved significantly. It is therefore becoming more likely that clinicians will encounter patients with psychiatric manifestations of the disease. This review summarises the evidence on prevalence, manifestations and treatment of psychiatric conditions in HIV-positive adults. The most prevalent psychiatric illness in this population is depression (35.6%), followed by substance misuse, anxiety, psychosis, adjustment disorder and bipolar affective disorder. Neurocognitive impairment is also common, ranging in severity from asymptomatic (the most frequent) to dementia (the least frequent). Effective treatment of both HIV and psychiatric manifestations is essential to maximising life expectancy and quality of life.




Management of antipsychotic-induced hyperprolactinaemia [Articles]

2017-07-03T00:08:02-07:00

Hyperprolactinaemia is a common endocrine disorder that can be associated with significant morbidity. Antipsychotic medications are frequently linked to hyperprolactinaemia. This disorder usually presents as menstrual problems in women and sexual problems in men, which affect the patients’ quality of life and adherence to antipsychotic treatment. In the past, treatment for hyperprolactinaemia was recommended only for symptomatic patients. However, it has become clear that persistent asymptomatic hyperprolactinaemia can be associated with long-term physical morbidities such as osteoporosis and possibly breast cancer. Hence, it is imperative that hyperprolactinaemia is managed even if asymptomatic when initially detected. This article discusses the various management options, such as reducing the dose of antipsychotic medication, switching to a prolactin-sparing antipsychotic and adding aripiprazole to the treatment regimen.




New from CPD Online [CPD Online]

2017-05-02T00:05:15-07:00







Controversy over exercise therapy for chronic fatigue syndrome: key lessons for clinicians and academics: COMMENTARY ON... COCHRANE CORNER [Round the corner]

2017-05-02T00:05:15-07:00

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is syndrome of unremitting fatigue of at least 6 months’ duration that causes significant disability. Exercise therapy has a proven track record in medicine and could be effective for some patients with CFS. An updated Cochrane review of eight studies appeared to suggest that exercise helps fatigue symptoms, but with only a small probability of recovery and/or improvement in daily function. Provisional data on acceptability suggest that most patients are willing to participate. However, one key study (PACE), which was well powered and influential in the Cochrane review, has been met with considerable controversy owing to lack of clarity on outcomes. Following release of the PACE study primary data, re-analysis suggested smaller effect sizes than initially reported.




Microdeletion syndromes and psychiatry: an update [Articles]

2017-05-02T00:05:15-07:00

Microdeletion syndrome is an important topic in intellectual disability, associated with various psychiatric symptoms, such as autism, attention deficit, hyperactivity, obsession and compulsion, and psychosis. In this article, we provide a clinical update on the following syndromes and their associated psychiatric disorders: Prader– Willi syndrome, Angelman syndrome, Williams syndrome, Wolf–Hirschhorn syndrome, cri du chat syndrome, DiGeorge syndrome and Rubinstein– Taybi syndrome.




Hyperprolactinaemia: a guide for psychiatrists [Articles]

2017-05-02T00:05:15-07:00

Medications prescribed by psychiatrists are known to elevate serum prolactin levels, but hyperprolactinaemia remains underrecognised, as the adverse effects of an elevated prolactin are mostly not visible. Hyperprolactinaemia can lead to adverse health outcomes, so clinicians need not only to be alert to its symptoms, but to manage the consequences as well. In this article we provide a brief overview of prolactin physiology, regulation and function. We list various factors that can lead to elevated serum prolactin. We discuss the interpretation of blood results and the management of psychotropic-induced hyperprolactinaemia. We include a flow diagram to assist clinicians in decision-making in the clinical management of hyperprolactinaemia.




Comorbidity, consanguinity and co-occurrence [Refreshment]

2017-05-02T00:05:15-07:00

The adjective ‘comorbid’, and its fellow noun ‘comorbidity’, are used repeatedly in psychiatric practice, but we frequently use them sloppily and ignore what they really mean. Here, I briefly define comorbidity of disorders, and suggest the alternative categories of consanguinity and co-occurrence.




Controversial treatments in psychiatry [Articles]

2017-05-02T00:05:15-07:00

Psychiatry uses some of the most controversial treatments in medicine. This may be partly because several are administered under coercion and opposed to the patient’s expressed will, under the protection of the relevant mental health legislation. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is perhaps the archetypal controversial treatment; although it is considered to be effective, the research supporting it is much less impressive than one would expect. The prescription of stimulant drugs for childhood attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and substitution therapy (such as methadone maintenance) in addictions treatment remain topical and appear to be subject to political interference. ‘Treatment’ for homosexuality and psychosurgery were common in the past but are now rare. These issues are discussed to give insight into how once common controversial treatments can decline and become obsolete. However, seclusion and covert medication remain in practice and are highly scrutinised.




Supporting carers of people with dementia: what is effective? [Articles]

2017-05-02T00:05:15-07:00

Carer stress is well documented, especially in those caring for individuals with dementia. A recommendation of all national dementia strategies is to provide excellent support and information to informal carers of people with dementia. NICE guidance suggests that a range of tailored interventions, including psychological input, psychoeducation and training courses, should be offered to reduce caregiver burden and stress, although good-quality outcome-based evidence is lacking. On the basis of a narrative review of the literature, we describe individual and multicomponent carer support packages and discuss their evidence base, reflecting on outcomes for carers. Multicomponent interventions have the best evidence for effectiveness.




Moral responsibility in psychopathy: a clinicophilosophical case discussion [Articles]

2017-05-02T00:05:15-07:00

This article examines the concept of moral responsibility in psychopathy. In doing so it shows how philosophical ideas can be used to help approach a complex issue in psychiatry. Building on a fictitious case, we explore two arguments: the exempting view, which proposes that psychopaths lack any ability to function as moral agents; and the mitigating view, which concedes that there are impairments in moral understanding in psychopathy, but takes these to be insufficient to be completely exempting, instead concluding that such individuals are at least partially morally responsible. Typically, clinicians (and the courts) are more comfortable with a mitigating view, whereas philosophers tend to extol an exempting view. Through discussion of the case, we illustrate the value that philosophy brings to clinical psychiatry and the ways in which psychiatry can enrich philosophical debate.




Parity of esteem: addressing the inequalities between mental and physical healthcare [Articles]

2017-05-02T00:05:15-07:00

Parity of esteem means valuing mental health as much as physical health in order to close inequalities in mortality, morbidity or delivery of care. There is clear evidence that patients with mental illness receive inferior medical, surgical and preventive care. This further exacerbated by low help-seeking, high stigma, medication side-effects and relatively low resources in mental healthcare. As a result, patients with severe mental illness die 10–20 years prematurely and have a high rate of cardiometabolic complications and other physical illnesses. Many physical healthcare guidelines and policy recommendations address parity of esteem, but their implementation to date has been poor. All clinicians should be aware that inequalities in care are adversely influencing mental health outcomes, and managers, health-care organisations and politicians should provide resources and education to address this gap.




Quality improvement for psychiatrists [Articles]

2017-05-02T00:05:15-07:00

Quality improvement (QI) offers a route to transforming care delivery at the scale and pace needed to ensure sustainability in the National Health Service. However, it is a complex endeavour with numerous challenges to consider, and it takes time. There are many ways of understanding quality and QI in healthcare, and it is important for doctors to develop knowledge of the core principles of QI, which increasingly feature in clinical settings and in training curricula for healthcare professionals.