Research Roundup


Teaching Ethics in Psychiatry Ventricular size and unemployment
Tardive dyskinesia Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) Hypotension and Depression

Teaching Ethics in Psychiatry

The Journal of Medical Ethics (1995, 21, p.234-238) publishes a study investigating whether an interactive teaching course can significantly affect the ethical sensitivity of medical students. Given that previous research has actually shown a deterioration in sensitivity over the teaching years of the traditional medical course, this innovative approach at Liverpool University, using video and role play, offers a chance to enhance the role of ethical thinking and also show the relevance of medical history to the avoidance of past mistakes and abuses in the care of psychiatric patients. Further research hopes to focus on how permanent the change in sensitivity actually is.

Ventricular size and unemployment.

Os et al publish an interesting study in the BJPsych (1995, 166, 750-788) supporting the notion that increased ventricular size is associated with negative symptoms and unemployment in psychotic illness (method involved 337 consecutive admissions with at least one psychotic symptom according to RDC, interview with the PSE and scanning was by CT).

Tardive dyskinesia

Is tardive dyskinesia a long-term side-effect of antipsychotic medication? Current opinion in psychiatry dictates that this is so, and yet there is accumulating evidence to suggets that the involuntary movement disorder is a result of occult brain damage i.e. that the dyskinesia and the psychotic illness both represent the end point of fundamental CNS damage. Two studies which support this view include the Editor's paper on the community prevalence of Abnormal Involuntary Movements. (Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 1993), and a study of young people with psychoses in the BJPsych (1995, 166, 768-772) by Pourcher et al, in which dyskinesia subjects more often had perinatal or infant brain injuries.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

In a relatively large series (for SAD studies) of 68 patients Meesters et al in the BJPsych (166,607-612) found that for four-day light treatment results were not dependent upon the timing of the phototherapy. Different groups received phototherapy in the morning, afternoon, and evening, with an extra group receiving a mixture. Response rates ranged from 50% to 80%, but there were no significant differences, indicating that perhaps the timing of light treatment is not so critical.

Hypotension and Depression

Several studies have suggested an association between low blood pressure and low mood. An important negative study by Gimore et al (1995) in Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica (91, 126-129) showed that in a three year prospective community study of 1070 elderly people in Liverpool, England depression was wholly unrelated to hypotension.

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