Compensatory strategies below the behavioural surface in autism: a qualitative study.

Little is known about the compensatory profile in autism; that is, people with autism spectrum disorder who show few symptoms in their behavioural presentation, despite continuing to report autism-related cognitive difficulties or differences. Even less is known about the specific compensatory strategies that these individuals use to disguise autism at the behavioural surface, both in the clinic and everyday life. It is also currently unclear whether individuals without a formal autism diagnosis, but experiencing autistic-like difficulties, use similar compensatory strategies, potentially enabling them to sit below the diagnostic threshold. This study aimed to investigate social compensatory strategies, and their effect on diagnosis and clinical outcome, in adults with and without autism.In this study, individuals aged 18 years or older who responded to a study advert that was distributed worldwide via social media and the UK National Autistic Society formed a convenience sample. Participants self-reported their use and experiences of compensatory strategies using an online platform. Novel analyses, including a qualitative thematic approach, were used to interpret their responses and gain insight into compensatory strategies in autism.Between Oct 19, 2017, and Jan 2, 2018, 136 adults (58 had a clinical diagnosis of autism, 19 self-identified but were not formally diagnosed as autistic, and 59 were not diagnosed or self-identified, but nevertheless reported social difficulties) completed the online study questions. The findings suggested that there are multiple compensatory strategies with distinct characteristics, individual and environmental factors that modulate compensatory strategy use and success, positive (social relationships, independence, employment) and negative (poor mental health, late diagnosis) outcomes associated with compensatory strategy use, and that individuals without a diagnosis use compensatory strategies that are qualitatively similar to individuals with a diagnosis.Increased awareness and measurement of compensatory strategy use in autism should guide future diagnostic guidelines, towards improved diagnostic accuracy and support for people with autism spectrum disorder whose cognitive difficulties are not immediately evident in observable behaviour.UK Medical Research Council and UK National Institute for Health Research.

» Read more

Influence of baseline severity on the effects of SSRIs in depression: an item-based, patient-level post-hoc analysis.

Reports claiming that antidepressants are effective only in patients with severe depression have affected treatment guidelines but these reports usually use a disputed measure of improvement, a decrease in the sum-score of the 17-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS-17), and are based on group-level rather than patient-level data.In this item-based, patient-level, post-hoc analysis, we pooled data from all completed, acute-phase, placebo-controlled, industry-sponsored, HDRS-based trials of the SSRIs citalopram, paroxetine, or sertraline in adult major depression. Patient-level data were pooled and subjected to item-based post-hoc analyses to assess the effect of baseline severity of depression on the response to treatment as assessed with HDRS-17 sum score, the depressed mood item of the HDRS, a six-item HDRS subscale (HDRS-6), and the remaining 11 HDRS items not included in this subscale (non-HDRS-6). Patients were defined as having non-severe depression if they had a baseline HDRS-17 sum score of 18 points or less and as having severe depression if they had a score of 27 points or more.Our study population consisted of 8262 patients from 28 placebo-controlled SSRI trials. Participants were treated with either citalopram (n=744), paroxetine (n=2981), sertraline (n=1202), fluoxetine (active-control group; n=754), or placebo (n=2581). 654 patients were defined as having non-severe depression and 1377 as having severe depression. Patients with non-severe and severe depression did not differ with respect to SSRI-induced decrease in depressed mood and other HDRS symptoms belonging to the HDRS-6 subscale. However, after exclusion of patients with rare extreme baseline values, a positive association was seen between severity and efficacy when using HDRS-17 sum score as the effect parameter. This result was largely due to a more pronounced response to treatment with respect to non-HDRS-6 items in patients with severe depression than in those with non-severe depression. This outcome could be explained by non-HDRS-6 items, more so than HDRS-6 items, being more severe and prevalent at baseline in severe than in non-severe cases; hence, less room was left for improvement in these areas in patients with non-severe depression.The use of an outcome measure that includes symptoms that rate low at baseline in patients with non-severe depression might result in the interpretation that SSRIs are ineffective in these patients. With respect to alleviation of HDRS-6 items, SSRIs appear to be as effective in patients with non-severe depression as in those with severe depression.Swedish Medical Research Council, AFA Insurance, Swedish Brain Foundation, Sahlgrenska University Hospital (Avtal om Läkarutbildning och Forskning), Bertil Hållsten’s Foundation, and Söderberg’s Foundation.

» Read more

Perspectives on ICD-11 to understand and improve mental health diagnosis using expertise by experience (INCLUDE Study): an international qualitative study.

Developed in collaboration with WHO Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, this study (conducted in India, the UK, and the USA) integrated feedback from mental health service users into the development of the chapter on mental, behavioural, and neurodevelopmental disorders for ICD-11. The ICD-11 will be used for health reporting from January, 2022. As a reporting standard and diagnostic classification system, ICD-11 will be highly influential by informing policy, clinical practice, and research that affect mental health service users. We report here the first study to systematically seek and collate service user perspectives on a major classification and diagnostic guideline. Focus groups were used to collect feedback on five diagnoses: depressive episode, generalised anxiety disorder, schizophrenia, bipolar type 1 disorder, and personality disorder. Participants were given the official draft diagnostic guidelines and a parallel lay translation. Data were then thematically analysed, forming the basis of co-produced recommendations for WHO, which included features that could be added or revised to better reflect lived experience and changes to language that was confusing or objectionable to service users. The findings indicated that an accessible lay language version of the ICD-11 could be beneficial for service users and their supporters.

» Read more

Impact of secondary care financial incentives on the quality of physical healthcare for people with psychosis: a longitudinal controlled study.

Concerns have repeatedly been expressed about the quality of physical healthcare that people with psychosis receive.AimsTo examine whether the introduction of a financial incentive for secondary care services led to improvements in the quality of physical healthcare for people with psychosis.Longitudinal data were collected over an 8-year period on the quality of physical healthcare that people with psychosis received from 56 trusts in England before and after the introduction of the financial incentive. Control data were also collected from six health boards in Wales where a financial incentive was not introduced. We calculated the proportion of patients whose clinical records indicated that they had been screened for seven key aspects of physical health and whether they were offered interventions for problems identified during screening.Data from 17 947 people collected prior to (2011 and 2013) and following (2017) the introduction of the financial incentive in 2014 showed that the proportion of patients who received high-quality physical healthcare in England rose from 12.85% to 31.65% (difference 18.80, 95% CI 17.37-20.21). The proportion of patients who received high-quality physical healthcare in Wales during this period rose from 8.40% to 13.96% (difference 5.56, 95% CI 1.33-10.10).The results of this study suggest that financial incentives for secondary care mental health services are associated with marked improvements in the quality of care that patients receive. Further research is needed to examine their impact on aspects of care that are not incentivised.Declaration of interestD.S. is an expert advisor to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) centre for guidelines and a member of the current NICE guideline development group for rehabilitation in adults with complex psychosis and related severe mental health conditions; a board member of the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health (NCCMH); views are personal and not those of NICE or NCCMH. G.S. was the National Clinical Director for Mental Health at NHS England and played a lead role in setting up the physical health CQUIN (Commissioning for Quality and Innovation framework) for people with psychosis. M.J.C. is Director of the College Centre for Quality Improvement which was commissioned by NHS England to collect data for the CQUIN and commissioned by HQIP to conduct the National Clinical Audit of Psychosis. S.J.C. is Clinical Lead for the National Clinical Audit of Psychosis. E.C., K.Z. and A.Q. are employed by the Royal College of Psychiatrists which was commissioned by NHS England to collect data for the CQUIN and commissioned by HQIP to conduct the National Clinical Audit of Psychosis.

» Read more

The case for improved care and provision of treatment for people with first-episode mania.

The care of people with first-episode mania has been overlooked in comparison with the care of patients with other non-affective psychoses, despite evidence suggesting targeted treatments might be of benefit for this patient group. In this Personal View, we outline the general epidemiology of first-episode mania in the context of bipolar disorder, the natural history of mania (with an emphasis on its recurrent nature), current evidence for pharmacological, psychological, and service-level interventions, current guidelines for the treatment of first-episode mania, and provide a patient’s point of view of the care pathway (appendix). We note the paucity of high-quality evidence for interventions in first-episode mania and the lack of agreement among treatment guidelines in relation to treatment, especially maintenance treatment. We suggest that, based on high morbidity and clinical need, research evidence to inform guideline development is necessary, and in the interim, clearer guidance on treatment and diagnosis should be given; specifically, we have suggested that patients should be cared for within a first-episode psychosis service, when such a service exists.

» Read more

Recession, recovery and suicide in mental health patients in England: time trend analysis.

The 2008 economic recession was associated with an increase in suicide internationally. Studies have focused on the impact in the general population with little consideration of the effect on people with a mental illness.AimsTo investigate suicide trends related to the recession in mental health patients in England.Using regression models, we studied suicide trends in mental health patients in England before, during and after the recession and examined the demographic and clinical characteristics of the patients. We used data from the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Safety in Mental Health, a national data-set of all suicide deaths in the UK that includes detailed clinical information on those seen by services in the last 12 months before death.Between 2000 and 2016, there were 21 224 suicide deaths by patients aged 16 or over. For male patients, following a steady fall of 0.5% per quarter before the recession (quarterly percent change (QPC) 2000-2009 -0.46%, 95% CI -0.66 to -0.27), suicide rates showed an upward trend during the recession (QPC 2009-2011 2.37%, 95% CI -0.22 to 5.04). Recession-related rises in suicide were found in men aged 45-54 years, those who were unemployed or had a diagnosis of substance dependence/misuse. Between 2012 and 2016 there was a decrease in suicide in male patients despite an increasing number of patients treated. No significant recession-related trends were found in women.Recession-associated increases in suicide were seen in male mental health patients as well as the male general population, with those in mid-life at particular risk. Support and targeted interventions for patients with financial difficulties may help reduce the risk at times of economic hardship. Factors such as drug and alcohol misuse also need to be considered. Recent decreases in suicide may be related to an improved economic context or better mental healthcare.Declaration of interestN.K. is supported by Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust. L.A. chairs the National Suicide Prevention Strategy Advisory Group at the Department of Health (of which N.K. is also a member) and is a non-executive Director for the Care Quality Commission. N.K. chairs the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) depression in adults guideline and was a topic expert member for the NICE suicide prevention guideline.

» Read more

Transition between child and adult services for young people with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): findings from a British national surveillance study.

Optimal transition from child to adult services involves continuity, joint care, planning meetings and information transfer; commissioners and service providers therefore need data on how many people require that service. Although attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) frequently persists into adulthood, evidence is limited on these transitions.AimsTo estimate the national incidence of young people taking medication for ADHD that require and complete transition, and to describe the proportion that experienced optimal transition.Surveillance over 12 months using the British Paediatric Surveillance Unit and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Surveillance System, including baseline notification and follow-up questionnaires.Questionnaire response was 79% at baseline and 82% at follow-up. For those aged 17-19, incident rate (range adjusted for non-response) of transition need was 202-511 per 100 000 people aged 17-19 per year, with successful transition of 38-96 per 100 000 people aged 17-19 per year. Eligible young people with ADHD were mostly male (77%) with a comorbid condition (62%). Half were referred to specialist adult ADHD and 25% to general adult mental health services; 64% had referral accepted but only 22% attended a first appointment. Only 6% met optimal transition criteria.As inclusion criteria required participants to be on medication, these estimates represent the lower limit of the transition need. Two critical points were apparent: referral acceptance and first appointment attendance. The low rate of successful transition and limited guideline adherence indicates significant need for commissioners and service providers to improve service transition experiences.Declaration of interestNone.

» Read more