Psychiatry - Research Publications

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    A latent profile analysis of moral injury appraisals in refugees
    Hoffman, J ; Liddell, B ; Bryant, RA ; Nickerson, A (TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD, 2019-01-01)
    Background: Refugees often exhibit reactions to traumatic events that may be conceptualized as moral injury (i.e. the impact of events that violate important moral values). There have been two types of moral injury appraisals found in refugees: transgressions by others and transgressions by oneself. Objective: To examine whether these types of moral injury appraisals co-occur or whether one form is usually predominant. Additionally, to investigate what types of events (trauma, living difficulties) and outcomes (PTSD, depression, anger, suicidality) were associated with each moral injury appraisal profile. Method: Participants included 221 refugees and asylum seekers residing in Australia. Data was collected online, and via pen and paper. A latent profile analysis was used to identify profiles of moral injury appraisals. Results: Results indicated a three-profile solution: Moral Injury-Other (MI-O; 37.8%), Moral Injury Other + Self (MI-OS; 35.2%), and no moral injury (No-MI; 26.9%). MI-O and MI-OS were predicted by both trauma experience and living difficulties. MI-O and MI-OS were also associated with greater psychopathology across all outcome variables compared to No-MI. MI-OS was also associated with greater anger and depression, compared to the MI-O profile. Conclusions: The association between the moral injury appraisal profiles and traumatic events, living difficulties and psychopathology, will have important clinical implications.
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    Predictors of treatment response for cognitive behaviour therapy for prolonged grief disorder.
    Bryant, RA ; Kenny, L ; Joscelyne, A ; Rawson, N ; Maccallum, F ; Cahill, C ; Hopwood, S (Informa UK Limited, 2017)
    Background: Prolonged grief disorder (PGD) causes significant impairment in approximately 7% of bereaved people. Although cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) has been shown to effectively treat PGD, there is a need to identify predictors of treatment non-response. Methods: PGD patients (N = 80) were randomly allocated to receive 10 weekly two-hour group CBT sessions and (a) four individual sessions of exposure therapy or (b) CBT without exposure. PGD was assessed by self-report measures at baseline, post-treatment (N = 61), and six-months (N = 56) after treatment. Results: Post-treatment assessments indicated that greater reduction in grief severity relative to pretreatment levels was associated with being in the CBT/Exposure condition, and lower baseline levels of self-blame and avoidance. At follow-up, greater grief symptom reduction was associated with being in the CBT/Exposure condition and lower levels of avoidance. Conclusions: These patterns suggest that strategies that target excessive self-blame and avoidance during treatment may enhance response to grief-focused cognitive behaviour therapy.
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    Strengthening mental health care systems for Syrian refugees in Europe and the Middle East: integrating scalable psychological interventions in eight countries
    Sijbrandij, M ; Acarturk, C ; Bird, M ; Bryant, RA ; Burchert, S ; Carswell, K ; de Jong, J ; Dinesen, C ; Dawson, KS ; El Chammay, R ; van Ittersum, L ; Jordans, M ; Knaevelsrud, C ; McDaid, D ; Miller, K ; Morina, N ; Park, A-L ; Roberts, B ; van Son, Y ; Sondorp, E ; Pfaltz, MC ; Ruttenberg, L ; Schick, M ; Schnyder, U ; van Ommeren, M ; Ventevogel, P ; Weissbecker, I ; Weitz, E ; Wiedemann, N ; Whitney, C ; Cuijpers, P (TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD, 2017-01-01)
    The crisis in Syria has resulted in vast numbers of refugees seeking asylum in Syria's neighbouring countries as well as in Europe. Refugees are at considerable risk of developing common mental disorders, including depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Most refugees do not have access to mental health services for these problems because of multiple barriers in national and refugee specific health systems, including limited availability of mental health professionals. To counter some of challenges arising from limited mental health system capacity the World Health Organization (WHO) has developed a range of scalable psychological interventions aimed at reducing psychological distress and improving functioning in people living in communities affected by adversity. These interventions, including Problem Management Plus (PM+) and its variants, are intended to be delivered through individual or group face-to-face or smartphone formats by lay, non-professional people who have not received specialized mental health training, We provide an evidence-based rationale for the use of the scalable PM+ oriented programmes being adapted for Syrian refugees and provide information on the newly launched STRENGTHS programme for adapting, testing and scaling up of PM+ in various modalities in both neighbouring and European countries hosting Syrian refugees.
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    Thinking of attachment figures blocks differential fear conditioning
    Toumbelekis, M ; Liddell, BJ ; Bryant, RA (OXFORD UNIV PRESS, 2018-09-01)
    Thinking of attachment figures can potentially impact acquisition and extinction of fear memories. In this study, 50 participants underwent a fear conditioning and extinction paradigm. Half the participants thought about a supportive attachment figure and half thought about a non-attachment positive experience prior to the fear conditioning. All participants then underwent a differential fear conditioning and fear extinction paradigm, and returned 2 days later for an extinction recall task. Fear-potentiated startle and subjective expectancy of shock ratings were measured as the primary indicators of fear learning across trials. The attachment prime significantly reduced the acquisition of fear-potentiated startle, and this lower level of fear was maintained at the extinction recall task. These results demonstrate that attachment primes can modulate the acquisition of conditioned fear. These findings provide preliminary evidence for the protective nature of attachment relationships at times that are characterized by fear learning.
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    Acute exercise-induced enhancement of fear inhibition is moderated by BDNF Val66Met polymorphism
    Keyan, D ; Bryant, RA (NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2019-04-09)
    Rodent research indicates that acute physical exercise facilitates fear learning and inhibition. Expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) may moderate the memory enhancing effects of acute exercise. We assessed the role of acute exercise in modulating extinction retention in humans, and investigated the extent to which the BDNF polymorphism influenced extinction retention. Seventy non-clinical participants engaged in a differential fear potentiated startle paradigm involving conditioning and extinction followed by random assignment to either intense exercise (n = 35) or no exercise (n = 35). Extinction retention was assessed 24 h later. Saliva samples were collected to index BDNF genotype. Exercised participants displayed significantly lower fear 24 h later relative to non-exercised participants. Moderation analyses indicated that after controlling for gender, the BDNF Val66Met polymorphism moderated the relationship between exercise and fear recovery 24 h later, such that exercise was associated with greater fear recovery in individuals with the Met allele. These findings provide initial evidence that acute exercise can impact fear extinction in humans and this effect is reduced in Met-allele carriers. This finding accords with the role of BDNF in extinction learning, and has implications for augmenting exposure-based therapies for anxiety disorders.
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    Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder in a clinical sample of refugees: a network analysis
    Spiller, TR ; Schick, M ; Schnyder, U ; Bryant, RA ; Nickerson, A ; Morina, N (TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD, 2017-01-01)
    Background: Network analysis is an emerging methodology for investigating psychopathological symptoms. Given the unprecedented number of refugees and the increased prevalence of mental disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in this population, new methodologies that help us better to understand psychopathology in refugees are crucial. Objective: The objective of this study was to explore the network structure and centrality indices of DSM-5 PTSD symptoms in a cross-sectional clinical sample of 151 severely traumatized refugees with and without a formal PTSD diagnosis. Method: The R-packages qgraph and bootnet were used to estimate the structure of a PTSD symptom network and its centrality indices. In addition, robustness and significance analyses for the edges weights and the order of centrality were performed. Results: Three pairs of symptoms showed significantly stronger connections than at least half of the other connections: hypervigilance and exaggerated startle response, intrusion and difficulties falling asleep, and irritability or outbursts of anger and self-destructive or reckless behaviour. Emotional cue reactivity had the highest centrality and trauma-related amnesia the lowest. Conclusion: Although only 51.0% of participants fulfilled criteria for a probable PTSD diagnosis, emotional cue reactivity showed the highest centrality, emphasizing the importance of emotional trauma reminders in severely traumatized refugees attending an outpatient clinic. However, due to the small sample size, the results should be interpreted with care.
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    Correction to: Early Adolescent Skills for Emotions (EASE) intervention for the treatment of psychological distress in adolescents: study protocol for randomised controlled trials in Lebanon and Jordan.
    Brown, FL ; Steen, F ; Taha, K ; Aoun, M ; Bryant, RA ; Jordans, MJD ; Malik, A ; van Ommeren, M ; Abualhaija, A ; Aqel, IS ; Ghatasheh, M ; Habashneh, R ; Sijbrandij, M ; El Chammay, R ; Watts, S ; Akhtar, A ; STRENGTHS-consortium, (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2019-10-29)
    Following publication of the original article [1], we have been notified that Figure 1 was published with the track changes. In this Correction the incorrect and correct Fig. 1 are shown.
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    Early Adolescent Skills for Emotions (EASE) intervention for the treatment of psychological distress in adolescents: study protocol for randomised controlled trials in Lebanon and Jordan
    Browne, FL ; Steen, F ; Taha, K ; Aoun, M ; Bryant, RA ; Jordans, MJD ; Malik, A ; van Ommeren, M ; Abualhaija, A ; Aqel, IS ; Ghatasheh, M ; Habashneh, R ; Sijbrandij, M ; El Chammay, R ; Watts, S ; Akhtar, A (BMC, 2019-09-02)
    BACKGROUND: There are significant barriers to providing accessible, quality mental health care for young adolescents affected by adversity. In an attempt to overcome this, the World Health Organization (WHO) has developed the Early Adolescent Skills for Emotions (EASE) psychological intervention for young adolescents with internalising problems. EASE is group-based (seven sessions for adolescents, three sessions for their caregivers) and can be delivered by non-specialist providers. This paper outlines the study protocols for two trials of EASE in the Middle East - one in Lebanon and one in Jordan. METHODS: We will conduct two, single-blind, two-arm, individually randomised group treatment trials in Lebanon and Jordan, with at least 445 young adolescents per trial. Adolescents will be screened eligible for the trial if they demonstrate levels of psychological distress indicative of internalizing problems requiring treatment. Participants will be randomly assigned to receive the EASE intervention, or enhanced usual care (one home-visit psychoeducation session). The primary outcome is reduction in overall child-reported psychological distress over time, with 3 months post-treatment as the primary end point. Secondary child-reported outcomes include post-traumatic stress symptoms, depression symptoms, daily functioning, and wellbeing. Secondary caregiver-reported outcomes include parenting style, overall child distress, and caregiver psychological distress. Coping strategy use will be explored as a mediator of treatment effects in Lebanon, and relevant moderators of treatment effects will be explored. DISCUSSION: These trials will provide the first assessments of the effectiveness of the EASE intervention for use in the Middle East, with important implications for the use of low-intensity, non-specialist interventions for this age range. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Lebanon: ISRCTN75375136 . Registered on 11 March 2019. Jordan: Australia New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry, ACTRN12619000341123. Registered on 5 March 2019 ( https://www.anzctr.org.au/ ).
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    Correction to: Problem management plus (PM+) for common mental disorders in a humanitarian setting in Pakistan; study protocol for a randomised controlled trial (RCT).
    Sijbrandij, M ; Farooq, S ; Bryant, RA ; Dawson, K ; Hamdani, SU ; Chiumento, A ; Minhas, F ; Saeed, K ; Rahman, A ; van Ommeren, M (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2018-10-15)
    Following publication of the original article [1], the first author reported an error in referring his paper.
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    Application of data pooling to longitudinal studies of early post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): the International Consortium to Predict PTSD (ICPP) project
    Qi, W ; Ratanatharathorn, A ; Gevonden, M ; Bryant, R ; Delahanty, D ; Matsuoka, Y ; Olff, M ; deRoon-Cassini, T ; Schnyder, U ; Seedat, S ; Laska, E ; Kessler, RC ; Koenen, K ; Shalev, A (TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD, 2018-06-14)
    Background: Understanding the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a precondition for efficient risk assessment and prevention planning. Studies to date have been site and sample specific. Towards developing generalizable models of PTSD development and prediction, the International Consortium to Predict PTSD (ICPP) compiled data from 13 longitudinal, acute-care based PTSD studies performed in six different countries. Objective: The objectives of this study were to describe the ICPP's approach to data pooling and harmonization, and present cross-study descriptive results informing the longitudinal course of PTSD after acute trauma. Methods: Item-level data from 13 longitudinal studies of adult civilian trauma survivors were collected. Constructs (e.g. PTSD, depression), measures (questions or scales), and time variables (days from trauma) were identified and harmonized, and those with inconsistent coding (e.g. education, lifetime trauma exposure) were recoded. Administered in 11 studies, the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS) emerged as the main measure of PTSD diagnosis and severity. Results: The pooled data set included 6254 subjects (39.9% female). Studies' average retention rate was 87.0% (range 49.1-93.5%). Participants' baseline assessments took place within 2 months of trauma exposure. Follow-up durations ranged from 188 to 1110 days. Reflecting studies' inclusion criteria, the prevalence of baseline PTSD differed significantly between studies (range 3.1-61.6%), and similar differences were observed in subsequent assessments (4.3-38.2% and 3.8-27.0% for second and third assessments, respectively). Conclusion: Pooling data from independently collected studies requires careful curation of individual data sets for extracting and optimizing informative commonalities. However, it is an important step towards developing robust and generalizable prediction models for PTSD and can exceed findings of single studies. The large differences in prevalence of PTSD longitudinally cautions against using any individual study to infer trauma outcome. The multiplicity of instruments used in individual studies emphasizes the need for common data elements in future studies.