Medicine (RMH Academic Centre) - Research Publications

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    Placement Instability Among Young People Removed from Their Original Family and the Likely Mental Health Implications.
    Rice, S ; Cotton, S ; Moeller-Saxone, K ; Mihalopoulos, C ; Magnus, A ; Harvey, C ; Humphreys, C ; Halperin, S ; Scheppokat, A ; McGorry, P ; Herrman, H ( 2017-04-25)
    BACKGROUND: Young people in out-of-home care are more likely to experience poorer mental and physical health outcomes related to their peers. Stable care environments are essential for ameliorating impacts of disruptive early childhood experiences, including exposure to psychological trauma, abuse and neglect. At present there are very few high quality data regarding the placement stability history of young people in out-of-home care in Australia or other countries. OBJECTIVES: To undertake the first systematic census of background, care type and placement stability characteristics of young people living in the out-of-home care sector in Australia. METHODS: Data was collected from four non-government child and adolescent community service organisations located across metropolitan Melbourne in 2014. The sample comprised 322 young people (females 52.8%), aged between 12 - 17 years (mean age=14.86 [SD=1.63] years). RESULTS: Most young people (64.3%) were in home-based care settings (i.e., foster care, therapeutic foster care, adolescent care program, kinship care, and lead tenant care), relative to residential care (35.7%). However, the proportion in residential care is very high in this age group when compared with all children in out-of-home care (5%). Mean age of first removal was 9 years (SD=4.54). No gender differences were observed for care type characteristics. Three quarters of the sample (76.9%) had a lifetime history of more than one placement in the out-of-home care system, with more than a third (36.5%) having experienced ≥5 lifetime placements. Relative to home-based care, young people in residential care experienced significantly greater placement instability (χ2=63.018, p<0.001). CONCLUSIONS: Placement instability is common in the out-of-home care sector. Given stable care environments are required to ameliorate psychological trauma and health impacts associated with childhood maltreatment, well-designed intervention-based research is required to enable greater placement stability, including strengthening the therapeutic capacities of out-of-home carers of young people.
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    Staging in bipolar disorder: from theoretical framework to clinical utility
    Berk, M ; Post, R ; Ratheesh, A ; Gliddon, E ; Singh, A ; Vieta, E ; Carvalho, AF ; Ashton, MM ; Berk, L ; Cotton, SM ; McGorry, PD ; Fernandes, BS ; Yatham, LN ; Dodd, S (WILEY, 2017-10-01)
    Illness staging is widely utilized in several medical disciplines to help predict course or prognosis, and optimize treatment. Staging models in psychiatry in general, and bipolar disorder in particular, depend on the premise that psychopathology moves along a predictable path: an at-risk or latency stage, a prodrome progressing to a first clinical threshold episode, and one or more recurrences with the potential to revert or progress to late or end-stage manifestations. The utility and validity of a staging model for bipolar disorder depend on its linking to clinical outcome, treatment response and neurobiological measures. These include progressive biochemical, neuroimaging and cognitive changes, and potentially stage-specific differences in response to pharmacological and psychosocial treatments. Mechanistically, staging models imply the presence of an active disease process that, if not remediated, can lead to neuroprogression, a more malignant disease course and functional deterioration. Biological elements thought to be operative in bipolar disorder include a genetic diathesis, physical and psychic trauma, epigenetic changes, altered neurogenesis and apoptosis, mitochondrial dysfunction, inflammation, and oxidative stress. Many available agents, such as lithium, have effects on these targets. Staging models also suggest the utility of stage-specific treatment approaches that may not only target symptom reduction, but also impede illness neuroprogression. These treatment approaches range from prevention for at-risk individuals, to early intervention strategies for prodromal and newly diagnosed individuals, complex combination therapy for rapidly recurrent illness, and palliative-type approaches for those at chronic, late stages of illness. There is hope that prompt initiation of potentially disease modifying therapies may preclude or attenuate the cognitive and structural changes seen in the later stages of bipolar disorder. The aims of this paper are to: a) explore the current level of evidence supporting the descriptive staging of the syndromal pattern of bipolar disorder; b) describe preliminary attempts at validation; c) make recommendations for the direction of further studies; and d) provide a distillation of the potential clinical implications of staging in bipolar disorder within a broader transdiagnostic framework.
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    Deterioration of visuospatial associative memory following a first psychotic episode: a long-term follow-up study
    Wannan, CMJ ; Bartholomeusz, CF ; Cropley, VL ; Van Rheenen, TE ; Panayiotou, A ; Brewer, WJ ; Proffitt, TM ; Henry, L ; Harris, MG ; Velakoulis, D ; McGorry, P ; Pantelis, C ; Wood, SJ (CAMBRIDGE UNIV PRESS, 2018-01-01)
    BACKGROUND: Cognitive deficits are a core feature of schizophrenia, and impairments in most domains are thought to be stable over the course of the illness. However, cross-sectional evidence indicates that some areas of cognition, such as visuospatial associative memory, may be preserved in the early stages of psychosis, but become impaired in later established illness stages. This longitudinal study investigated change in visuospatial and verbal associative memory following psychosis onset. METHODS: In total 95 first-episode psychosis (FEP) patients and 63 healthy controls (HC) were assessed on neuropsychological tests at baseline, with 38 FEP and 22 HCs returning for follow-up assessment at 5-11 years. Visuospatial associative memory was assessed using the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery Visuospatial Paired-Associate Learning task, and verbal associative memory was assessed using Verbal Paired Associates subtest of the Wechsler Memory Scale - Revised. RESULTS: Visuospatial and verbal associative memory at baseline did not differ significantly between FEP patients and HCs. However, over follow-up, visuospatial associative memory deteriorated significantly for the FEP group, relative to healthy individuals. Conversely, verbal associative memory improved to a similar degree observed in HCs. In the FEP cohort, visuospatial (but not verbal) associative memory ability at baseline was associated with functional outcome at follow-up. CONCLUSIONS: Areas of cognition that develop prior to psychosis onset, such as visuospatial and verbal associative memory, may be preserved early in the illness. Later deterioration in visuospatial memory ability may relate to progressive structural and functional brain abnormalities that occurs following psychosis onset.