Long-Acting Injectable Antipsychotic To Prevent Relapse in First Episode Schizophrenia

JAMAResearch published in JAMA Psychiatry demonstrated that long-acting, injectable, second-generation antipsychotic medication has tremendous potential to bring clinical stability to persons with first-episode schizophrenia. According to the authors, “long-acting medications are rarely used following a first episode of schizophrenia.”

Patients with recent onset of schizophrenia (n=86) were randomized to receive long-acting injectable risperidone or oral risperidone. Half of each group was also randomized to receive cognitive remediation to improve cognitive functioning or healthy-behaviors training to improve lifestyle habits and well-being.  The study showed that there was a significant and dramatic difference in 12-month relapse rates between the groups, favoring LAI risperidone. “The psychotic exacerbation and/or relapse rate was 5% in the LAI risperidone group vs 33% in the oral risperidone group ― a relative risk reduction of 84.7%. Treatment with LAI risperidone also provided better control of hallucinations and delusions.”
Obviously, adherence to medication was better with the LAI groug; it was also associated with prevention of exacerbation and/or relapse and control of breakthrough psychotic symptoms. What was interesting to note was that the LAI antipsychotic medication was readily accepted by schizophrenia patients soon after the onset of the disorder. The authors concluded that “the use of long-acting injectable risperidone after a first episode of schizophrenia has notable advantages for clinical outcomes. The key clinical advantages are apparently owing to the more consistent administration of the long-acting injectable. Such formulations should be offered earlier in the course of illness.”


JAMA Psychiatry. Published online June 24, 2015.


Posted in Antipsychotic medication, Early intervention, Mental health, Schizophrenia | Comments Off

Institute of Medicine Report on Cognitive Aging

JAMAThe Institute of Medicine has recently released a report entitled Cognitive Aging: Progress in Understanding and Opportunities for Action. This special report addresses “the emerging concept of cognitive aging, the importance of this issue for the nation’s public health, and actions the nation needs to take to better understand and maintain the cognitive health of older adults.” The report emphasizes that “cognitive aging is not a disease or a quantifiable level of dysfunction. It is distinct from Alzheimer disease and other neurocognitive and psychiatric disorders that affect older adults’ cognitive health, so it is best measured and studied longitudinally among adults who are free of these disorders.”

The IOM report highlights that the “health care systems and health care professionals will play a key role in educating patients and their families about cognitive aging and in implementing interventions to ensure optimal cognitive health across the life cycle. The committee noted the importance of programs to avoid delirium associated with medications or hospitalizations. Educating the patient and family members should include these clear messages: the brain ages, just like other parts of the body; cognitive aging is not a disease; cognitive aging is different for every individual (there is wide variability across persons of similar age); some cognitive functions improve with age and neurons are not dying as in Alzheimer disease (hence, realistic hope is inherent in cognitive aging); and patients can take certain steps to help protect their cognitive health.

According to the IOM report, cognitive aging is not a disease, but it is a major public health issue. Despite the public health importance of cognitive aging, there is limited research available on this process. “Patients are already concerned. The time has come for physicians, other health care professionals, and researchers to enter the conversation with them.”

Source: JAMA June 2, 2015, Vol 313, No. 21

IOM Report


Posted in Cognition, Cognitive Stimulation, Dementia, Early intervention, Education, Geriatrics, Research, Wellness | Comments Off

Delays In Diagnosis and Treatment of Patients with Bipolar Disorder

PLOS-1According to a study in PLOS One journal, there is often a substantial delay before diagnosis and treatment initiation of patients with bipolar disorder. Researchers sought to investigate factors associated with the delay before diagnosis of bipolar disorder and the onset of treatment in secondary mental healthcare.

Medical records of 1364 adults diagnosed with bipolar disorder between 2007 and 2012 were reviewed. Results showed that some individuals experience a significant delay in diagnosis and treatment of bipolar disorder after beginning care in a mental health treatment facility. This was particularly true for those who have prior diagnoses of alcohol and substance misuse disorders. The median diagnostic delay was 62 days and median treatment delay was 31 days.

Authors state that “these findings highlight a need for further study on strategies to better identify underlying symptoms and offer appropriate treatment sooner in order to facilitate improved clinical outcomes, such as developing specialist early intervention services to identify and treat people with bipolar disorder.”


Delays before Diagnosis and Initiation of Treatment in Patients Presenting to Mental Health Services with Bipolar Disorder. PLOS One. May 2015.

Posted in Bipolar Disorder, Delayed diagnosis, Diagnosis | Comments Off

Imparied Sleep and Pain Sensitivity

painA recent study in PAIN, the official publication of the International Association for the Study of Pain has demonstrated that in people who suffer from both insomnia and chronic pain there is a strong negative effect on pain tolerance and that these individuals may benefit from treatments targeting both conditions.

The study included more than 10,400 adults from a large, ongoing Norwegian health study. Self-reported sleep measures provided information on, sleep duration, sleep onset latency, and sleep efficiency, as well as frequency and severity of insomnia. The main outcome measure was pain sensitivity tests, including assessment of cold-pressor pain tolerance. The researchers found that all sleep parameters, except sleep duration, were significantly associated with reduced pain tolerance. The study also looked at other factors potentially affecting sleep impairment and pain perception, including chronic (persistent or recurring) pain and psychological distress (such as depression and anxiety).

Pain sensitivity increased with both the frequency and severity of insomnia. For example, compared with individuals who reported no insomnia, rates of reduced pain tolerance were 52 percent higher for subjects reporting insomnia more than once weekly versus 24 percent for those with insomnia once monthly. Pain sensitivity was also linked to sleep latency, although not to total sleep time. The relationships were unchanged after adjustment for age and sex. The effect was smaller, but still significant, after further adjustment for psychological distress.

Sleep and Pain Sensitivity in Adults

Posted in Chronic Pain, Pain, Sleep | Comments Off

April Is Alcohol Awareness Month

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) recognize April as alcohol awareness month. This is a time to learn about alcohol and the health and social problems caused by drinking too much. Both organizations encourage the public to dedicate this month to understanding how excessive drinking can affect health and to evaluating their own drinking habits.

With this year’s NCADD theme, “For the Health of It: Early Education on Alcoholism and Addiction,” the month of April 2015 will be filled with local, state, and national events aimed at educating people about the treatment and prevention of alcoholism, particularly among our youth, and the benefits of providing early education to give kids a better understanding of the impact that alcohol can have on their lives.

NIAAA website

NCADD website

Posted in Addiction, Alcohol | Comments Off

Less Than Half Of Alzheimer’s Patients/Caregivers Told Diagnosis

AlzThe Alzheimer’s Association’s 2015 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report found that only 45 percent of people with Alzheimer’s disease or their caregivers say they were told the diagnosis by their doctor. In contrast, more than 90 percent of people with the four most common cancers (breast, colorectal, lung and prostate cancer) say they were told the diagnosis.

One of the reasons most commonly cited by health care providers for not disclosing an Alzheimer’s diagnosis is fear of causing the patient emotional distress. However, according to the new report, “studies that have explored this issue have found that few patients become depressed or have other long-term emotional problems because of the [Alzheimer’s] diagnosis.” The benefits of promptly and clearly explaining a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s have been established in several studies. Benefits include better access to quality medical care and support services, and the opportunity for people with Alzheimer’s to participate in decisions about their care, including providing informed consent for current and future treatment plans. Knowing the diagnosis early enables the person with Alzheimer’s to get the maximum benefit from available treatments, and may also increase chances of participating in clinical drug trials that help advance research.

Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures Report 2015

Posted in Alzheimer's Disease, Dementia | Comments Off

Antidepressants Can Improve Cardiovascular Outcomes

ACCA study being presented at the American College of Cardiology meeting this coming weekend reports that patients with moderate to severe depression who took antidepressants alone had a lower risk of death, coronary artery disease and stroke than patients with moderate to severe depression who did not take antidepressant or statin medications. Moderately to severely depressed patients taking only antidepressants also seemed to do better than those taking statins alone or a combination of statins and antidepressants.

Researchers in Salt Lake City analyzed the health records and death rates, coronary artery disease and stroke of more than 26,000 patients treated in the statewide network over a three-year period. Patients completed a nine-question depression screening questionnaire to determine their level of depressive symptoms. Based on the questionnaires, researchers identified 5,311 patients as having moderate to severe depression and 21,517 patients as having no to mild depression.

Depression is a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease. This is the first study to assess the relative effects of the simultaneous use of antidepressants and cholesterol-lowering drugs among patients with varying levels of depressive symptoms.
Patients with moderate to severe depression who were taking antidepressants alone had a 53 percent lower risk of dying, developing coronary artery disease or having a stroke during the three-year follow-up period as compared to patients with moderate to severe depression who were not taking antidepressants or statins. Moderately to severely depressed patients taking antidepressants alone appeared to also fare better than those taking statins alone or a combination of statins and antidepressants, although these relationships were not directly analyzed.  According to the lead researcher, Heidi May, PhD., MSPH, “We thought we’d see an additive effect—that taking both medications would lower the risk more than either drug alone—but we found that in the more depressed people, the antidepressant really was what made the biggest difference. Antidepressants were not associated with a reduced cardiovascular risk in people with little or no depression, but in moderately to severely depressed people, antidepressants were shown to significantly improve cardiovascular outcomes.”

Findings from another study scheduled for presentation at ACC also add to the evidence that depression may influence cardiovascular outcomes, prompting authors to call on cardiologists to pay closer attention to depression when managing patients with heart disease.

Source: American College of Cardiology News Release

Studies presented

“The Association of Antidepressant and Statin Use to Future Death and Incident Cardiovascular Disease Varies by Depression Severity,” will be presented on March 15 at 9:30 a.m. PT/12:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. UTC at the American College of Cardiology’s 64th Scientific Session in San Diego.
“Depression and Outcome of Patients with Acute Coronary Syndrome: A 3 Year Follow-up Study,” will be presented on March 14 at 9:30 a.m. PT/12:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. UTC.

Posted in Cardiovascular, Depression | Comments Off

Patient Activation to Improve Health Outcomes

The patient is 50% of the clinical equation, but as medical educators, we haven’t always saved a seat for the patient at the education table. We at CME Outfitters would like to share some of our goals and commitments to make some educational adjustments in 2015 to change that scenario.

Few would deny that patient-centered care is the guiding principle of healthcare. Treating patients with respect, hearing and valuing their concerns, and involving them as decisions about their care is the foundation of the National Quality Strategy Prioirities1 and the “triple aim” of improving care, health, and cost of care.

An involved, aware, and informed patient is more prepared to engage in their care decisions and manage their health costs. An activated patient does more than follow the advice of their health care provider, they proactively engage to have skin in the game.

Judith Hibbard, PhD and colleagues described a model of patient activation—the willingness to take ownership of one’s health and gain the knowledge and skill to use that knowledge to participate in managing chronic illness that involves four stages:

Stage 1: Believing the patient role is important

Stage 2: Having the confidence and knowledge to take action

Stage 3: Using skills to take action to improve health

Stage 4: Staying the course to maintain health, even under stress.2

 The evidence supports the activation model as an influencer in positive patient outcomes. Sacks and colleagues found that higher patient activation predicted better depression outcomes and support of patient activation may be an effective approach to reduce depression severity.3

Health care providers have played an important role in educating and empowering patients and beginning in 2015, there are provisions in the Affordable Care Act to reimburse providers $42/patient per month for engagement of Medicare patients with three or more chronic illnesses outside of the clinic visit for services and education to assess medical and psychosocial needs; assess adherence to medication; and transition patients from the hospital to home or nursing home.

Where to begin? That’s where we come in. CME Outfitters is committed to devoting time in each of our activities to help you better activate your patients—provide the tools to increase knowledge, skills, and confidence—to take an active role to improve outcomes, reduce readmissions, and reduce overall health care costs of chronic illnesses. We’ve started the process by using real patient scenarios and vignettes to demonstrate our educational objectives. Look to our revised Clinical Compass newsletter for new opportunities to place the patient at the center of your education and translate the education to patient activation and healthy behaviors in your practice.


1 National Quality Strategy Overview. http://www.ahrq.gov/workingforquality/about.htm. Accessed 5/6/14.

2 Hibbard JH, Stockard J, Mahoney ER, Tusler M. Development of the Patient Activation Measure (PAM): Conceptualizing and Measuring Activation in Patients and Consumers. Health Serv Res. 2004;39(4 Pt 1): 1005-1026.

3Sacks RM, Greene J, Hibbard JH, Overton V. How will do patient activation scores predict depression outcomes one year later? J Affect Disord, 2014;169:1-6.

logo_cmeo_176Find CME Activities, We have plenty for you to choose from!

Posted in Patient-centered interview, Uncategorized | Comments Off

Mobile App for Assessment of Traumatic Brain Injury FDA Approved

danasmallA new app called the Defense Automated Neurobehavioral Assessment (DANA), runs on multiple mobile platforms and was recently granted U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. The app will soon be available to help clinicians diagnose traumatic brain injury in as little as five minutes in almost any setting, including a combat environment.

According to the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC), DANA operates much like a video game. Service members will undergo a baseline series of on-screen exercises during which both their speed and accuracy are recorded. Those who may have had a serious head injury will then participate in a series of both cognitive efficiency tests and self-administered questionnaires. Afterward, a clinician will review the results, comparing them with the results of the baseline exercises. The combination of the app’s cognitive and psychological components allows for insight into the prevalence of symptoms related to both traumatic brain injury and posttraumatic stress disorder.

Additional Info

Lathan C Mil Med. 2013 PubMed Article
Army.mil website

Posted in Digital medicine, Games, PTSD, Research, Traumatic Brain Injury | Tagged | Comments Off

Assessment of Global Internet Addiction

cybercoverAccording to a meta-analysis of 31 nations across seven world regions, the global prevalence of internet addiction is estimated at 6 percent. The prevalence of Internet addiction varies among regions around the world, as shown by data from more than 89,000 individuals in 31 countries analyzed for a study published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking this month.

The authors from the University of Hong Kong describe that “societies worldwide are facing new challenges that the convenience and excitement gained through Internet use can result in individuals hooked on online activities to gratify needs. An extreme form of this phenomenon is known as Internet addiction (IA), an impulse control problem characterized by an inability to inhibit Internet use that exerts an adverse impact on major life domains (e.g., interpersonal relations, physical health).”

Although IA is not in DSM-5 it has been associated with disorders related to substance and behavioral addiction and “is often comorbid with mental disorders, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and depression.” The IA prevalence rate was more than threefold higher than that of pathological gambling another impulse control disorder. The researchers also noted that there were considerable differences in the prevalence figures across world regions. The authors reported that the countries that demonstrated a perception of less life satisfaction in general, greater overall pollution (primarily air pollution), greater traffic commute time consumption, and lower national income. They conclude that “taken together, these results provided tentative support for the quality of (real) life hypothesis, which proposed an inverse link between IA prevalence and quality of (real) life.”

Internet Addiction Prevalence and Quality of (Real) Life: A Meta-Analysis of 31 Nations Across Seven World Regions

Posted in Addiction, Diagnosis, DSM-5, Internet, Internet Addiction | Comments Off