Psychiatry - Research Publications

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    The mental health of Farsi-Dari speaking asylum- seeking children and parents facing insecure residency in Australia
    Rostami, R ; Wells, R ; Solaimani, J ; Berle, D ; Hadzi-Pavlovic, D ; Silove, D ; Nickerson, A ; O'Donnell, M ; Bryant, R ; McFarlane, A ; Steel, Z (ELSEVIER, 2022-10-01)
    BACKGROUND: This research examined the mental health of a cohort of asylum-seeking children, adolescents and their primary caregiver affected by insecure residency while living in the community, compared to refugees and immigrants. METHODS: The project investigated the prevalence of psychosocial problems among Iranian and Afghani asylum seeker, refugee and immigrant children and adolescents, and their caregivers who arrived in Australia from 2010. In total, n=196 children and adolescents aged 5-18 years, and their primary caregiver were asked about family visa status, country of origin, level of education, parent symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (Harvard Trauma Questionnaire) and child wellbeing (Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire). An additional n=362 Farsi and Dari speaking children, recruited through the Building a New Life in Australia (BNLA) study, a national comparison sample of families with permanent refugee visas, were included. FINDINGS: Asylum seeker children and adolescents displayed significantly more psychosocial problems compared to those with full refugee protection and immigrant background within the current sample and when benchmarked against a national sample of Farsi-Dari speaking refugee children. Higher parental posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms was associated with poorer child and adolescent psychosocial functioning. This effect was more marked in families with insecure residency. INTERPRETATION: Insecure visa status is associated with higher rates of children's mental health problems and a stronger association with parental PTSD symptoms compared to children with secure residency. This raises important questions about Australia's restrictive immigration policies. FUNDING: This project was supported by an Australian Rotary Health Research Fund / Mental Health of Young Australians Research Grant and by the Australian Research Council (DP160104378).
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    Impact of displacement context on psychological distress in refugees resettled in Australia: a longitudinal population-based study
    Nickerson, A ; Kashyap, S ; Keegan, D ; Edwards, B ; Forrest, W ; Bryant, RA ; O'Donnell, M ; Felmingham, K ; McFarlane, AC ; Tol, WA ; Lenferink, L ; Hoffman, J ; Liddell, BJ (CAMBRIDGE UNIV PRESS, 2022-07-12)
    AIMS: Refugees typically spend years in a state of protracted displacement prior to permanent resettlement. Little is known about how various prior displacement contexts influence long-term mental health in resettled refugees. In this study, we aimed to determine whether having lived in refugee camps v. community settings prior to resettlement impacted the course of refugees' psychological distress over the 4 years following arrival in Australia. METHODS: Participants were 1887 refugees who had taken part in the Building a New Life in Australia study, which comprised of five annual face-to-face or telephone surveys from the year of first arrival in Australia. RESULTS: Latent growth curve modelling revealed that refugees who had lived in camps showed greater initial psychological distress (as indexed by the K6) and faster decreases in psychological distress in the 4 years after resettling in Australia, compared to those who had lived in community settings. Investigation of refugee camp characteristics revealed that poorer access to services in camps was associated with greater initial distress after resettlement, and greater ability to meet one's basic needs in camps was associated with faster decreases in psychological distress over time. CONCLUSIONS: These findings highlight the importance of the displacement context in influencing the course of post-resettlement mental health. Increasing available services and meeting basic needs in the displacement environment may promote better mental health outcomes in resettled refugees.
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    Course and predictors of posttraumatic stress and depression longitudinal symptom profiles in refugees: A latent transition model
    Lenferink, LIM ; Liddell, BJ ; Byrow, Y ; O'Donnell, M ; Bryant, RA ; Mau, V ; McMahon, T ; Benson, G ; Nickerson, A (PERGAMON-ELSEVIER SCIENCE LTD, 2021-12-18)
    Exposure to potentially traumatic events and post-migration living difficulties (PMLDs) may explain the high rates of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression in resettled refugees. Latent class analyses (LCAs) in refugees have identified subgroups that differ in symptom profiles of PTSD and comorbid symptoms. However, knowledge on longitudinal symptom profiles in refugees is sparse. Examining longitudinal PTSD and depression symptom profiles could provide information on risk factors underlying worsening of symptoms post-resettlement. Self-rated PTSD (Posttraumatic Diagnostic Scale) and depression (Patient Health Questionnaire-9) symptoms were assessed among 613 refugees who had resettled in Australia up to two years previously (W1) and at 6 months follow-up (W2). PTSD and depression symptom profiles were identified using LCAs for W1 and W2 separately. Latent transition analysis was used to examine (predictors of) changes in symptom profiles, including gender, age, trauma exposure, and PMLDs. Four classes were identified that were consistent across timepoints: a No symptoms (W1 61%; W2 68%), Low PTSD/Moderate depression (W1 16%; W2 10%), Moderate PTSD/depression (W1 16%; W2 14%), and High symptoms class (W1 7%; W2 7%). Higher levels of problems with PMLDs, including being discrimination and family separation, predicted movements out of the No symptom class at W1 to classes with psychopathology at W2. To conclude, most participants did not develop PTSD or depression symptoms. The risk of developing these symptoms seems higher when problems with interpersonal PMLDs increased, pointing to the need for considering these stressors when addressing the mental health needs in this population.
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    Dropout from guideline-recommended psychological treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder: A systematic review and meta-analysis
    Varker, T ; Jones, KA ; Arjmand, HA ; Hinton, M ; Hiles, SA ; Freijah, I ; Forbes, D ; Kartal, D ; Phelps, A ; Bryant, RA ; McFarlane, A ; Hopwood, M ; O'Donnell, M (Elsevier BV, 2021-04-01)
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    Enhancing Discovery of Genetic Variants for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Through Integration of Quantitative Phenotypes and Trauma Exposure Information
    Maihofer, AX ; Choi, KW ; Coleman, JR ; Daskalakis, NP ; Denckla, CA ; Ketema, E ; Morey, RA ; Polimanti, R ; Ratanatharathorn, A ; Torres, K ; Wingo, AP ; Zai, CC ; Aiello, AE ; Almli, LM ; Amstadter, AB ; Andersen, SB ; Andreassen, OA ; Arbisi, PA ; Ashley-Koch, AE ; Austin, SB ; Avdibegovic, E ; Borglum, AD ; Babic, D ; Baekvad-Hansen, M ; Baker, DG ; Beckham, JC ; Bierut, LJ ; Bisson, J ; Boks, MP ; Bolger, EA ; Bradley, B ; Brashear, M ; Breen, G ; Bryant, RA ; Bustamante, AC ; Bybjerg-Grauholm, J ; Calabrese, JR ; Caldas-de-Almeida, JM ; Chen, C-Y ; Dale, AM ; Dalvie, S ; Deckert, J ; Delahanty, DL ; Dennis, MF ; Disner, SG ; Domschke, K ; Duncan, LE ; Kulenovic, AD ; Erbes, CR ; Evans, A ; Farrer, LA ; Feeny, NC ; Flory, JD ; Forbes, D ; Franz, CE ; Galea, S ; Garrett, ME ; Gautam, A ; Gelaye, B ; Gelernter, J ; Geuze, E ; Gillespie, CF ; Goci, A ; Gordon, SD ; Guffanti, G ; Hammamieh, R ; Hauser, MA ; Heath, AC ; Hemmings, SMJ ; Hougaard, DM ; Jakovljevic, M ; Jett, M ; Johnson, EO ; Jones, I ; Jovanovic, T ; Qin, X-J ; Karstoft, K-I ; Kaufman, ML ; Kessler, RC ; Khan, A ; Kimbrel, NA ; King, AP ; Koen, N ; Kranzler, HR ; Kremen, WS ; Lawford, BR ; Lebois, LAM ; Lewis, C ; Liberzon, I ; Linnstaedt, SD ; Logue, MW ; Lori, A ; Lugonja, B ; Luykx, JJ ; Lyons, MJ ; Maples-Keller, JL ; Marmar, C ; Martin, NG ; Maurer, D ; Mavissakalian, MR ; McFarlane, A ; McGlinchey, RE ; McLaughlin, KA ; McLean, SA ; Mehta, D ; Mellor, R ; Michopoulos, V ; Milberg, W ; Miller, MW ; Morris, CP ; Mors, O ; Mortensen, PB ; Nelson, EC ; Nordentoft, M ; Norman, SB ; O'Donnell, M ; Orcutt, HK ; Panizzon, MS ; Peters, ES ; Peterson, AL ; Peverill, M ; Pietrzak, RH ; Polusny, MA ; Rice, JP ; Risbrough, VB ; Roberts, AL ; Rothbaum, AO ; Rothbaum, BO ; Roy-Byrne, P ; Ruggiero, KJ ; Rung, A ; Rutten, BPF ; Saccone, NL ; Sanchez, SE ; Schijven, D ; Seedat, S ; Seligowski, A ; Seng, JS ; Sheerin, CM ; Silove, D ; Smith, AK ; Smoller, JW ; Sponheim, SR ; Stein, DJ ; Stevens, JS ; Teicher, MH ; Thompson, WK ; Trapido, E ; Uddin, M ; Ursano, RJ ; van den Heuvel, LL ; Van Hooff, M ; Vermetten, E ; Vinkers, CH ; Voisey, J ; Wang, Y ; Wang, Z ; Werge, T ; Williams, MA ; Williamson, DE ; Winternitz, S ; Wolf, C ; Wolf, EJ ; Yehuda, R ; Young, KA ; Young, RM ; Zhao, H ; Zoellner, LA ; Haas, M ; Lasseter, H ; Provost, AC ; Salem, RM ; Sebat, J ; Shaffer, RA ; Wu, T ; Ripke, S ; Daly, MJ ; Ressler, KJ ; Koenen, KC ; Stein, MB ; Nievergelt, CM (ELSEVIER SCIENCE INC, 2022-04-01)
    BACKGROUND: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is heritable and a potential consequence of exposure to traumatic stress. Evidence suggests that a quantitative approach to PTSD phenotype measurement and incorporation of lifetime trauma exposure (LTE) information could enhance the discovery power of PTSD genome-wide association studies (GWASs). METHODS: A GWAS on PTSD symptoms was performed in 51 cohorts followed by a fixed-effects meta-analysis (N = 182,199 European ancestry participants). A GWAS of LTE burden was performed in the UK Biobank cohort (N = 132,988). Genetic correlations were evaluated with linkage disequilibrium score regression. Multivariate analysis was performed using Multi-Trait Analysis of GWAS. Functional mapping and annotation of leading loci was performed with FUMA. Replication was evaluated using the Million Veteran Program GWAS of PTSD total symptoms. RESULTS: GWASs of PTSD symptoms and LTE burden identified 5 and 6 independent genome-wide significant loci, respectively. There was a 72% genetic correlation between PTSD and LTE. PTSD and LTE showed largely similar patterns of genetic correlation with other traits, albeit with some distinctions. Adjusting PTSD for LTE reduced PTSD heritability by 31%. Multivariate analysis of PTSD and LTE increased the effective sample size of the PTSD GWAS by 20% and identified 4 additional loci. Four of these 9 PTSD loci were independently replicated in the Million Veteran Program. CONCLUSIONS: Through using a quantitative trait measure of PTSD, we identified novel risk loci not previously identified using prior case-control analyses. PTSD and LTE have a high genetic overlap that can be leveraged to increase discovery power through multivariate methods.
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    Mental health across the early years in the military
    Dell, L ; Casetta, C ; Benassi, H ; Cowlishaw, S ; Agathos, J ; O'Donnell, M ; Crane, M ; Lewis, V ; Pacella, B ; Terhaag, S ; Morton, D ; McFarlane, A ; Bryant, R ; Forbes, D (CAMBRIDGE UNIV PRESS, 2022-02-24)
    BACKGROUND: The mental health impact of the initial years of military service is an under-researched area. This study is the first to explore mental health trajectories and associated predictors in military members across the first 3-4 years of their career to provide evidence to inform early interventions. METHODS: This prospective cohort study surveyed Australian Defence personnel (n = 5329) at four time-points across their early military career. Core outcomes were psychological distress (K10+) and posttraumatic stress symptoms [four-item PTSD Checklist (PCL-4)] with intra-individual, organizational and event-related trajectory predictors. Latent class growth analyses (LCGAs) identified subgroups within the sample that followed similar longitudinal trajectories for these outcomes, while conditional LCGAs examined the variables that influenced patterns of mental health. RESULTS: Three clear trajectories emerged for psychological distress: resilient (84.0%), worsening (9.6%) and recovery (6.5%). Four trajectories emerged for post-traumatic stress, including resilient (82.5%), recovery (9.6%), worsening (5.8%) and chronic subthreshold (2.3%) trajectories. Across both outcomes, prior trauma exposure alongside modifiable factors, such as maladaptive coping styles, and increased anger and sleep difficulties were associated with the worsening and chronic subthreshold trajectories, whilst members in the resilient trajectories were more likely to be male, report increased social support from family/friends and Australian Defence Force (ADF) sources, and use adaptive coping styles. CONCLUSIONS: The emergence of symptoms of mental health problems occurs early in the military lifecycle for a significant proportion of individuals. Modifiable factors associated with wellbeing identified in this study are ideal targets for intervention, and should be embedded and consolidated throughout the military career.
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    Factors associated with COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy amongst refugees in Australia
    Liddell, BJ ; Murphy, S ; Mau, V ; Bryant, R ; O'Donnell, M ; McMahon, T ; Nickerson, A (TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD, 2021-01-01)
    BACKGROUND: Refugees may be especially vulnerable to the adverse effects of COVID-19. Therefore it is critical that refugee communities are supported to access COVID-19 vaccines and for public health responses to address vaccine hesitancy. OBJECTIVE: To investigate the key demographic factors, barriers and attitudes associated with vaccine hesitancy in a community sample of refugees. METHOD: Participants in the Refugee Adjustment Study, a cohort of refugees living in Australia, were invited to complete a survey about their COVID-19 vaccine intentions, barriers to access and attitudes relating to the vaccine. RESULTS: Of the 516 participants, 88% were unvaccinated and 28.1% were classed as vaccine hesitant. Key predictors of vaccine hesitancy were younger age, information and trust barriers, lower logistical barriers, and attitudes relating to low control and risk posed by COVID-19. CONCLUSIONS: Findings suggest that public health strategies need to address trust, control and risk perception attitudes to increase COVID-19 vaccine uptake in resettled refugee communities.
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    The association between COVID-19 related stressors and mental health in refugees living in Australia
    Liddell, BJ ; O'Donnell, M ; Bryant, RA ; Murphy, S ; Byrow, Y ; Mau, V ; McMahon, T ; Benson, G ; Nickerson, A (TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD, 2021-01-01)
    BACKGROUND: Refugees may be particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health due to their traumatic pasts and the challenges of the postmigration environment. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the prevalence of COVID-19 related stressors and their relationship to key mental health and functioning outcomes in a resettled refugee sample. METHOD: N = 656 refugees and asylum seekers living in Australia completed a survey in June 2020 to index their mental health (posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, health anxiety and disability) and COVID-19 experiences. The relationship between COVID-19 stressors and mental health was examined using a series of hierarchical linear regression models while controlling for other key demographic factors. RESULTS: Refugees' most prevalent stressors related to worries of being infected by COVID-19 or the risk COVID-19 posed to others, which predicted health anxiety and PTSD. Social-related difficulties predicted depression and disability symptoms. Accessing and trusting information from authorities were the least prevalent stressors and were not significantly associated with mental health outcomes; neither was accessing basic supplies and financial support. Fears relating to the future such as concerns about visa application processes predicted health anxiety and disability. Crucially, the strongest predictor of all mental health outcomes was COVID-19 serving as a reminder of difficult past events. CONCLUSIONS: Refugees may be uniquely affected by COVID-19 because the pandemic serves as a reminder of their past conflict and persecution trauma. It is critical that mental health strategies accommodate the specific needs of refugees during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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    Differentiating PTSD from anxiety and depression: Lessons from the ICD-11 PTSD diagnostic criteria
    Barbano, AC ; van der Mei, WF ; deRoon-Cassini, TA ; Grauer, E ; Lowe, SR ; Matsuoka, YJ ; O'Donnell, M ; Olff, M ; Qi, W ; Ratanatharathorn, A ; Schnyder, U ; Seedat, S ; Kessler, RC ; Koenen, KC ; Shalev, AY ; Bryant, R ; Delahanty, D ; Goslings, C ; Luitse, J ; Moergeli, H ; Mouthaan, J ; Nishi, D ; Sijbrandij, M ; Suliman, S ; van Zuiden, M (WILEY, 2019-06-01)
    OBJECTIVE: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is frequently associated with depression and anxiety, but the nature of the relationship is unclear. By removing mood and anxiety diagnostic criteria, the 11th edition of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) aims to delineate a distinct PTSD phenotype. We examined the effect of implementing ICD-11 criteria on rates of codiagnosed depression and anxiety in survivors with recent PTSD. METHOD: Participants were 1,061 survivors of traumatic injury admitted to acute care centers in Israel. ICD-10 and ICD-11 diagnostic rules were applied to the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale for DSM-IV. Co-occurring disorders were identified using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV (SCID). Depression severity was measured by the Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II). Assessments were performed 0-60 ("wave 1") and 90-240 ("wave 2") days after trauma exposure. RESULTS: Participants identified by ICD-11 PTSD criteria were equally or more likely than those identified by the ICD-10 alone to meet depression or anxiety disorder diagnostic criteria (for wave 1: depressive disorders, OR [odds ratio] = 1.98, 95% CI [confidence interval] = [1.36, 2.87]; anxiety disorders, OR = 1.04, 95% CI = [0.67, 1.64]; for wave 2: depressive disorders, OR = 1.70, 95% CI = [1.00, 2.91]; anxiety disorders, OR = 1.04, 95% CI = [0.54, 2.01]). ICD-11 PTSD was associated with higher BDI scores (M = 23.15 vs. 17.93, P < 0.001 for wave 1; M = 23.93 vs. 17.94, P < 0.001 for wave 2). PTSD symptom severity accounted for the higher levels of depression in ICD-11 PTSD. CONCLUSIONS: Despite excluding depression and anxiety symptom criteria, the ICD-11 identified equal or higher proportion of depression and anxiety disorders, suggesting that those are inherently associated with PTSD.
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    The role of site and severity of injury as predictors of mental health outcomes following traumatic injury
    Baecher, K ; Kangas, M ; Taylor, A ; O'Donnell, ML ; Bryant, RA ; Silove, D ; McFarlane, AC ; Wade, D (WILEY, 2018-10-01)
    The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of injury site and severity as predictors of mental health outcomes in the initial 12 months following traumatic injury. Using a multisite, longitudinal study, participants with a traumatic physical injury (N = 1,098) were assessed during hospital admission and followed up at 3 months (N = 932, 86%) and at 12 months (N = 715, 71%). Injury site was measured using the Abbreviated Injury Scale 90, and objective injury severity was measured using the Injury Severity Score. Participants also completed the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale and the Clinician Administered Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Scale. A random intercept mixed modelling analysis was conducted to evaluate the effects of site and severity of injury in relation to anxiety, PTSD, and depressive symptoms. Injury severity, as well as head and facial injuries, was predictive of elevated PTSD symptoms, and external injuries were associated with both PTSD and depression severity. In contrast, lower extremity injuries were associated with depressive and anxiety symptoms. The findings suggest that visible injuries are predictive of reduced mental health, particularly PTSD following traumatic injury. This has clinical implications for further advancing the screening for vulnerable injured trauma survivors at risk of chronic psychopathology.