Patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders and substance use may have an earlier onset of illness compared to those without substance use. Most previous studies have, however, too small samples to control for confounding variables and the effect of specific types of substances. The present study aimed to examine the relationship between substance use and age at onset, in addition to the influence of possible confounders and specific substances, in a large and heterogeneous multisite sample of patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders.
The patients (N=1119) were recruited from catchment areas in Oslo, Stavanger and Bergen, Norway, diagnosed according to DSM-IV and screened for substance use history. Linear regression analysis was used to examine the relationship between substance use and age at onset of illness.
Patients with substance use (n=627) had about 3years earlier age at onset (23.0years; SD 7.1) than the abstinent group (n=492; 25.9years; SD 9.7). Only cannabis use was statistically significantly related to earlier age at onset. Gender or family history of psychosis did not influence the results.
Cannabis use is associated with 3years earlier onset of psychosis.
Extreme self-harming behavior is a major challenge for patients and health services. Nevertheless, this patient population is poorly described in research literature.
The aim of this study was to assess the volume of patients with extensive psychiatric hospitalization due to extreme self-harming behaviors, the extent of severe medical sequelae, and collaboration problems within health services.
In a national screening investigation, department managers in 83 adult psychiatric inpatient institutions across all health regions in Norway were invited to participate in a brief, prepared, telephone interview.
Sixty-one interviews were completed. Extensive hospitalization (prolonged or multiple) due to extreme self-harm was reported for the last year in all health regions and in 427 individual cases. Mean number of cases did not differ by region. Psychiatric hospitalizations were more frequent in hospital units than mental health centers. In 109 of the cases, self-harming behavior had severe medical consequences, including five deaths. In 122 of the cases, substantial collaboration problems within the health services were reported (disagreements on diagnosis, treatment needs and resources). Extensive (long-term) hospitalization was particularly associated with the combination of severe medical sequelae and collaboration problems.
This investigation confirms a noteworthy, nationwide, population of severely self-harming inpatients with extensive health service use, prevalent severe medical complications, and unsatisfactory collaboration within health services. These preliminary results are alarming, and indicate a need for more profound understanding of highly complex and severe cases.
Medication nonadherence in severe mental disorders is an important clinical issue, but estimates vary between studies. There is a need for valid self-reports for both research and clinical practice. This study examined the level of adherence to prescribed medication in outpatients with severe mental disorders and evaluated the validity of a simple self-report rating of adherence. From an ongoing study of severe mental disorders, 280 patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder who were prescribed psychopharmacological agents were included. We assessed adherence with serum concentration of medicines and tested the sensitivity and specificity of a simple self-report questionnaire for patients and compared with a report from health personnel. Adherence rate defined by serum concentrations within reference level was 61.6% in the total sample, 58.4% for schizophrenia and 66.3% for bipolar disorder. The patients' self-report scores overestimated adherence, but correlated significantly to health personnel scores (r = 0.50) and to serum concentration of medication (r = 0.52); the positive predictive value was 70%, and the negative predictive value was 91%. In this naturalistic sample, outpatients with severe mental disorders showed relatively good adherence to prescribed medication, and self-report questionnaires seem to be a valid method for measuring adherence.
KG Jebsen Centre for Psychosis Research, Institute of Clinical Medicine, Psychiatry Section, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway; Department of Psychiatric Research, Diakonhjemmet Hospital, Oslo, Norway. Electronic address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Longitudinal studies on first-episode psychosis (FEP) patients have shown a decrease of substance use disorders (SUDs) over the first years of illness, but there has been less focus on the gender aspect. The present study examines stability of alcohol and illicit substance use, with specific focus on gender, in a one year follow-up investigation of 154 FEP patients (91 men, 63 women) in Oslo, Norway, using criteria for DSM-IV substance use disorder diagnosis, the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) and the Drug Use Disorders Identification Test (DUDIT). The results show that cannabis was the most frequently used illicit substance at both times. Significantly more men (34%) than women (13%) had a current illicit SUD at baseline. At follow-up, the rate of illicit SUDs was significantly reduced in men (18%) but not in women (11%). There were no significant gender differences in the rate of current alcohol use disorders (AUD) (men 14%; women 8%) at baseline, and no significant reduction in AUD in any of the genders at follow-up. At follow-up, total AUDIT and DUDIT scores were reduced in men only. In conclusion, the high and persistent rate of SUDs, particularly of cannabis, among men and women during the first year of treatment for psychosis should be addressed in the clinical management of the patients. Female FEP patients who are also substance users may be particularly vulnerable in this regard and warrant closer attention.
Negative symptoms have traditionally been assessed based on clinicians' observations. The subjective experience of negative symptoms in people with psychosis may bring new insight. The Apathy Evaluation Scale (AES) is commonly used to study apathy in psychosis and has corresponding self-rated (AES-S) and clinician-rated (AES-C) versions. The aim of the present study was to determine the validity and reliability of the AES-S by investigating its concordance with the AES-C. Eighty-four first-episode (FEP) patients completed the shortened 12-item AES-S and AES-C at baseline (T1) and 12 months (T2). Concordance was studied by degree of correlation, comparison of mean scores, and change and difference between diagnostic groups. The Positive and Negative Symptom Scale (PANSS) was used to study convergent and discriminative properties. High concordance was found between AES-S and AES-C at both T1 and T2 regarding mean values, change from T1 to T2, and the proportion with high levels of apathy. Both versions indicated high levels of apathy in FEP, while associations with PANSS negative symptoms were weaker for AES-S than AES-C. Controlling for depression did not significantly alter results. We concluded that self-rated apathy in FEP patients is in concordance with clinician ratings, but in need of further study.
The high rate of drug abuse among patients with psychosis represents a challenge to clinicians in their treatment of the patients. Powerful screening tools to detect problematic drug use in an early phase of psychotic illness are needed. The aim of the present study was to investigate prevalence of drug use disorders and psychometric properties of the Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test (AUDIT) and the Drug Use Disorder Identification Test (DUDIT) in 205 first-episode psychosis patients in Oslo, Norway. Internal consistency of the instruments and criterion-based validity as compared to a current DSM-IV diagnosis of abuse or dependence of alcohol or other drugs were analyzed. Fifteen percent of the men and 11% of the women had a DSM-IV diagnosis of alcohol use disorders while 33% of the men and 16% of the women had non-alcohol drug use disorders. The instruments were reliable (Cronbach's alpha above 0.90) and valid (Area under the curve above 0.83). Suitable cut-off scores (sensitivity >0.80 and specificity >0.70) were ten for men and eight for women on AUDIT and three for men and one for women on DUDIT. The results of this study suggest that AUDIT and DUDIT are powerful screening instruments for detecting alcohol and other drug use disorders in patients with first-episode psychosis.