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Journal: The British journal of psychiatry : the journal of mental science


BackgroundScales are widely used in psychiatric assessments following self-harm. Robust evidence for their diagnostic use is lacking.AimsTo evaluate the performance of risk scales (Manchester Self-Harm Rule, ReACT Self-Harm Rule, SAD PERSONS scale, Modified SAD PERSONS scale, Barratt Impulsiveness Scale); and patient and clinician estimates of risk in identifying patients who repeat self-harm within 6 months.MethodA multisite prospective cohort study was conducted of adults aged 18 years and over referred to liaison psychiatry services following self-harm. Scale a priori cut-offs were evaluated using diagnostic accuracy statistics. The area under the curve (AUC) was used to determine optimal cut-offs and compare global accuracy.ResultsIn total, 483 episodes of self-harm were included in the study. The episode-based 6-month repetition rate was 30% (n = 145). Sensitivity ranged from 1% (95% CI 0-5) for the SAD PERSONS scale, to 97% (95% CI 93-99) for the Manchester Self-Harm Rule. Positive predictive values ranged from 13% (95% CI 2-47) for the Modified SAD PERSONS Scale to 47% (95% CI 41-53) for the clinician assessment of risk. The AUC ranged from 0.55 (95% CI 0.50-0.61) for the SAD PERSONS scale to 0.74 (95% CI 0.69-0.79) for the clinician global scale. The remaining scales performed significantly worse than clinician and patient estimates of risk (P<0.001).ConclusionsRisk scales following self-harm have limited clinical utility and may waste valuable resources. Most scales performed no better than clinician or patient ratings of risk. Some performed considerably worse. Positive predictive values were modest. In line with national guidelines, risk scales should not be used to determine patient management or predict self-harm.

Concepts: Clinical trial, Hospital, Positive predictive value, Psychiatry


Background Little is known about the relative extent of crime against people with severe mental illness (SMI). Aims To assess the prevalence and impact of crime among people with SMI compared with the general population. Method A total of 361 psychiatric patients were interviewed using the national crime survey questionnaire, and findings compared with those from 3138 general population controls participating in the contemporaneous national crime survey. Results Past-year crime was experienced by 40% of patients v. 14% of controls (adjusted odds ratio (OR) = 2.8, 95% CI 2.0-3.8); and violent assaults by 19% of patients v. 3% of controls (adjusted OR = 5.3, 95% CI 3.1-8.8). Women with SMI had four-, ten- and four-fold increases in the odds of experiencing domestic, community and sexual violence, respectively. Victims with SMI were more likely to report psychosocial morbidity following violence than victims from the general population. Conclusions People with SMI are at greatly increased risk of crime and associated morbidity. Violence prevention policies should be particularly focused on people with SMI.

Concepts: Violent crime, Crime, Violence against women, Psychiatry, Violence, Mental illness, Odds ratio, Domestic violence


There has been a substantial rise in ‘economic suicides’ in the Great Recessions afflicting Europe and North America. We estimate that the Great Recession is associated with at least 10 000 additional economic suicides between 2008 and 2010. A critical question for policy and psychiatric practice is whether these suicide rises are inevitable. Marked cross-national variations in suicides in the recession offer one clue that they are potentially avoidable. Job loss, debt and foreclosure increase risks of suicidal thinking. A range of interventions, from upstream return-to-work programmes through to antidepressant prescriptions may help mitigate suicide risk during economic downturn.

Concepts: Recession, Unemployment, Business cycle, Late-2000s recession


Persecutory delusions may be unfounded threat beliefs maintained by safety-seeking behaviours that prevent disconfirmatory evidence being successfully processed. Use of virtual reality could facilitate new learning.

Concepts: Core issues in ethics, Paranoia, Virtual reality, Belief, Schizophrenia, Delusional disorder, Persecutory delusions, Delusion


BackgroundSupervised injectable heroin (SIH) treatment has emerged over the past 15 years as an intensive treatment for entrenched heroin users who have not responded to standard treatments such as oral methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) or residential rehabilitation.AimsTo synthesise published findings for treatment with SIH for refractory heroin-dependence through systematic review and meta-analysis, and to examine the political and scientific response to these findings.MethodRandomised controlled trials (RCTs) of SIH treatment were identified through database searching, and random effects pooled efficacy was estimated for SIH treatment. Methodological quality was assessed according to criteria set out by the Cochrane Collaboration.ResultsSix RCTs met the inclusion criteria for analysis. Across the trials, SIH treatment improved treatment outcome, i.e. greater reduction in the use of illicit ‘street’ heroin in patients receiving SIH treatment compared with control groups (most often receiving MMT).ConclusionsSIH is found to be an effective way of treating heroin dependence refractory to standard treatment. SIH may be less safe than MMT and therefore requires more clinical attention to manage greater safety issues. This intensive intervention is for a patient population previously considered unresponsive to treatment. Inclusion of this low-volume, high-intensity treatment can now improve the impact of comprehensive healthcare provision.

Concepts: Evidence-based medicine, Clinical research, Scientific method, Clinical trial, Effectiveness, Methadone, Heroin, Randomized controlled trial


Mindfulness-based approaches for adults are effective at enhancing mental health, but few controlled trials have evaluated their effectiveness among young people.

Concepts: Effect, Effectiveness, Clinical trial


There is conflicting evidence about the relationship between vitamin D deficiency and depression, and a systematic assessment of the literature has not been available.

Concepts: Vitamin, Vitamins, Evidence-based medicine, Meta-analysis, Systematic review, Vitamin D


BACKGROUND: Religious participation or belief may predict better mental health but most research is American and measures of spirituality are often conflated with well-being. AIMS: To examine associations between a spiritual or religious understanding of life and psychiatric symptoms and diagnoses. METHOD: We analysed data collected from interviews with 7403 people who participated in the third National Psychiatric Morbidity Study in England. RESULTS: Of the participants 35% had a religious understanding of life, 19% were spiritual but not religious and 46% were neither religious nor spiritual. Religious people were similar to those who were neither religious nor spiritual with regard to the prevalence of mental disorders, except that the former were less likely to have ever used drugs (odds ratio (OR) = 0.73, 95% CI 0.60-0.88) or be a hazardous drinker (OR = 0.81, 95% CI 0.69-0.96). Spiritual people were more likely than those who were neither religious nor spiritual to have ever used (OR = 1.24, 95% CI 1.02-1.49) or be dependent on drugs (OR = 1.77, 95% CI 1.20-2.61), and to have abnormal eating attitudes (OR = 1.46, 95% CI 1.10-1.94), generalised anxiety disorder (OR = 1.50, 95% CI 1.09-2.06), any phobia (OR = 1.72, 95% CI 1.07-2.77) or any neurotic disorder (OR = 1.37, 95% CI 1.12-1.68). They were also more likely to be taking psychotropic medication (OR = 1.40, 95% CI 1.05-1.86). CONCLUSIONS: People who have a spiritual understanding of life in the absence of a religious framework are vulnerable to mental disorder.

Concepts: Spirituality, Generalized anxiety disorder, Psychiatric medication, Insomnia, Abnormal psychology, Mental health, Psychiatry, Mental disorder


Background Sleep disturbances are commonly reported in the psychosis prodrome, but rarely explored in relation to psychotic experiences. Aims To investigate the relationship between specific parasomnias (nightmares, night terrors and sleepwalking) in childhood and later adolescent psychotic experiences. Method The sample comprised 4720 individuals from a UK birth cohort. Mothers reported on children’s experience of regular nightmares at several time points between 2 and 9 years. Experience of nightmares, night terrors and sleepwalking was assessed using a semi-structured interview at age 12. Psychotic experiences were assessed at ages 12 and 18 using a semi-structured clinical interview. Results There was a significant association between the presence of nightmares at 12 and psychotic experiences at 18 when adjusted for possible confounders and psychotic experiences at 12 (OR = 1.62, 95% CI 1.19-2.20). The odds ratios were larger for those who reported persistent psychotic experiences. Conclusions The presence of nightmares might be an early risk indicator for psychosis.

Concepts: Narcolepsy, Parasomnia, Insomnia, Sleep disorders, Sleep, Sleep disorder, Night terror, Sleep deprivation


There have been recent calls to abandon the distinction between neurological and psychiatric disorders on philosophical and moral grounds. Crossley and colleagues, in this issue, meta-analyse published structural brain imaging data and prove that they are different after all - or do they?

Concepts: Mental disorder