Recent Submissions

  • Engagement With a remote symptom-tracking platform among participants with major depressive disorder: Randomized controlled trial

    Williams, Laura (2024)
    BACKGROUND: Multiparametric remote measurement technologies (RMTs), which comprise smartphones and wearable devices, have the potential to revolutionize understanding of the etiology and trajectory of major depressive disorder (MDD). Engagement with RMTs in MDD research is of the utmost importance for the validity of predictive analytical methods and long-term use and can be conceptualized as both objective engagement (data availability) and subjective engagement (system usability and experiential factors). Positioning the design of user interfaces within the theoretical framework of the Behavior Change Wheel can help maximize effectiveness. In-app components containing information from credible sources, visual feedback, and access to support provide an opportunity to promote engagement with RMTs while minimizing team resources. Randomized controlled trials are the gold standard in quantifying the effects of in-app components on engagement with RMTs in patients with MDD. OBJECTIVE: This study aims to evaluate whether a multiparametric RMT system with theoretically informed notifications, visual progress tracking, and access to research team contact details could promote engagement with remote symptom tracking over and above the system as usual. We hypothesized that participants using the adapted app (intervention group) would have higher engagement in symptom monitoring, as measured by objective and subjective engagement. METHODS: A 2-arm, parallel-group randomized controlled trial (participant-blinded) with 1:1 randomization was conducted with 100 participants with MDD over 12 weeks. Participants in both arms used the RADAR-base system, comprising a smartphone app for weekly symptom assessments and a wearable Fitbit device for continuous passive tracking. Participants in the intervention arm (n=50, 50%) also had access to additional in-app components. The primary outcome was objective engagement, measured as the percentage of weekly questionnaires completed during follow-up. The secondary outcomes measured subjective engagement (system engagement, system usability, and emotional self-awareness). RESULTS: The levels of completion of the Patient Health Questionnaire-8 (PHQ-8) were similar between the control (67/97, 69%) and intervention (66/97, 68%) arms (P value for the difference between the arms=.83, 95% CI -9.32 to 11.65). The intervention group participants reported slightly higher user engagement (1.93, 95% CI -1.91 to 5.78), emotional self-awareness (1.13, 95% CI -2.93 to 5.19), and system usability (2.29, 95% CI -5.93 to 10.52) scores than the control group participants at follow-up; however, all CIs were wide and included 0. Process evaluation suggested that participants saw the in-app components as helpful in increasing task completion. CONCLUSIONS: The adapted system did not increase objective or subjective engagement in remote symptom tracking in our research cohort. This study provides an important foundation for understanding engagement with RMTs for research and the methodologies by which this work can be replicated in both community and clinical settings. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT04972474; https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04972474. INTERNATIONAL REGISTERED REPORT IDENTIFIER (IRRID): RR2-10.2196/32653.
  • Connectivity-guided intermittent theta burst versus repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation for treatment-resistant depression: A randomized controlled trial

    Webster, Lucy; Bates, Peter; Lankappa, Sudheer (2024)
    Disruption in reciprocal connectivity between the right anterior insula and the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is associated with depression and may be a target for neuromodulation. In a five-center, parallel, double-blind, randomized controlled trial we personalized resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging neuronavigated connectivity-guided intermittent theta burst stimulation (cgiTBS) at a site based on effective connectivity from the right anterior insula to the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. We tested its efficacy in reducing the primary outcome depression symptoms measured by the GRID Hamilton Depression Rating Scale 17-item over 8, 16 and 26 weeks, compared with structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) neuronavigated repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) delivered at the standard stimulation site (F3) in patients with 'treatment-resistant depression'. Participants were randomly assigned to 20 sessions over 4-6 weeks of either cgiTBS (n = 128) or rTMS (n = 127) with resting-state functional MRI at baseline and 16 weeks. Persistent decreases in depressive symptoms were seen over 26 weeks, with no differences between arms on the primary outcome GRID Hamilton Depression Rating Scale 17-item score (intention-to-treat adjusted mean, -0.31, 95% confidence interval (CI) -1.87, 1.24, P = 0.689). Two serious adverse events were possibly related to TMS (mania and psychosis). MRI-neuronavigated cgiTBS and rTMS were equally effective in patients with treatment-resistant depression over 26 weeks (trial registration no. ISRCTN19674644).
  • Specialist treatment for persistent depression in secondary care: Sustained effects from a multicentre UK study at 24 and 36 months

    Nixon, Neil L.; Guo, Boliang; Simpson, Sandra; Morriss, Richard K. (2023)
    BACKGROUND: Despite the known health costs of persistent depression, there is no established service framework for the treatment of this disorder and a lack of long-term outcome data to inform commissioning. To address this gap, we report the long-term clinical effectiveness of a randomised controlled trial (RCT) testing a specialist, collaborative model of care for people with persistent moderate to severe unipolar depression. METHODS: A multicentre, pragmatic, single-blind, parallel-group randomised controlled trial comparing outcomes from a Specialist Depression Service (SDS) offering collaborative treatment with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and pharmacotherapy for 12 months with treatment as usual (TAU) for persistent, moderate-severe depression in UK secondary care. Participants were initially assessed at baseline, 3, 6, 9, 12, and 18 months, with primary endpoints (17-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale [HDRS17], and a Global Assessment of Functioning [GAF]) reported elsewhere (Morriss et al., 2016). Additional long-term, post-treatment, follow-up was made at 24 and 36 months with outcomes presented here. CLINICALTRIALS: gov (NCT01047124) and ISRCTN registration (ISRCTN 10963342). RESULTS: At 24 months there remained a statistically significant between-group difference in HDRS(17)-2.69 (-5.14, -0.23) and a non-significant improvement in GAF 2.85 (-1.23, 6.94), both favouring the SDS. Simple statistics are presented at 36 months, due to attrition, showing higher continued response and remission vs TAU across all measures. LIMITATIONS: Potential bias through loss to follow-up, particularly beyond 24 months. CONCLUSIONS: Compared with standard secondary care, SDS management of persistent moderate-severe depression, produced long-term clinical benefits, sustained following treatment completion, suggesting a model for future specialist care.
  • To have and to hold: An exploratory qualitative study exploring why research participants with treatment-resistant depression undergoing transcranial magnetic stimulation treatment requested copies of their research brain MRI scans

    Webster, Lucy; Boutry, Clement; Morriss, Richard K. (2023)
    PURPOSE: There has been little research providing an in-depth exploration of the reasons behind research participants, particularly in mental health settings, requesting copies of their research data, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. BRIGhTMIND is a large double blind randomised controlled trial using functional and structural magnetic resonance imaging to create personalised targets for transcranial magnetic stimulation delivery, and a number of trial participants requested copies of these scans. METHODS: Seven participants involved in the BRIGhTMIND trial completed semi-structured interviews exploring their reasons behind their request for copies of their MRI scans. The qualitative data was co-analysed between researchers and patient and public involvement and engagement representatives using inductive thematic analysis. RESULTS: The interviews produced consistent themes concerning curiosity to visualise their MRI scans, and the hope that their participation would result in a better understanding of the nature and future treatment of depression. Concerns around the rights to access their own personal health data emerged as a clear theme as did their own ability to interpret any radiological information. DISCUSSION: This study provides insight into the reasons why research participants with depression would like to retain copies of their MRI scans and the perceived role that such techniques may have for improving research and neuromodulation treatments in depression. Such first-hand experiential accounts emphasises the importance of listening to participants perspectives and lived experience, in order to improve research and health outcomes. Future research could aim to provide greater verbal and written information for participants, including details about the accessibility to their MRI scans, the difference between research and clinical MRI scans, and educational materials to help with the interpretation of MRI images.
  • Clinical effectiveness of active Alpha-Stim AID versus sham Alpha-Stim AID in major depression in primary care in England (Alpha-Stim-D): a multicentre, parallel group, double-blind, randomised controlled trial

    Morriss, Richard K.; Briley, Paul M.; Craven, Michael P.; Griffiths, Chris; Nixon, Neil L.; Sayal, Kapil (2023-03)
    Background Randomised sham-controlled trials of cranial electrostimulation with the Alpha-Stim Anxiety Insomnia and Depression (AID) device have reported improved anxiety and depression symptoms; however, no adequately powered sham-controlled trials in major depression are available. We investigated whether active Alpha-Stim AID is superior to sham Alpha-Stim AID in terms of clinical effectiveness for depression symptoms in major depression. Methods The Alpha-Stim-D trial was a multicentre, parallel group, double-blind, randomised controlled trial, recruiting participants from 25 primary care centres in two regions in England, UK. Eligible participants were aged 16 years or older with a current diagnosis of primary major depression, a score of 10–19 on the nine-item Patient Health Questionnaire, and had been offered or prescribed and reported taking antidepressant medication for at least 6 weeks in the previous 3 months. Main exclusion criteria were contraindications to Alpha-Stim AID device use, having persistent suicidal ideation or self-harm, neurological conditions, a substance use disorder or dependence, an eating disorder, bipolar disorder, or non-affective psychosis, or receiving psychological treatment in the past 3 months. Eligible participants were randomly assigned (1:1, minimised by region, anxiety disorder, and antidepressant use) to 1 h daily use of active (100 μA) or sham Alpha-Stim AID treatment for 8 weeks. Randomisation was via an independent web-based system, with participants, outcome assessors, and data analyst masked to treatment assignment. The primary outcome was change from baseline in score on the 17-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS-17, GRID version) at 16 weeks after randomisation, with participants analysed by intention to treat (ITT; all randomly assigned participants). Safety was assessed in all randomly assigned participants. The trial is registered with the ISRCTN registry (ISRCTN11853110); status completed. Findings Between Sept 8, 2020, and Jan 14, 2022, 236 eligible participants were randomly assigned to active or sham Alpha-Stim AID (n=118 each). 156 (66%) participants were women, 77 (33%) were men, and three (1%) self-reported as other gender; 200 (85%) were White British or Irish; and the mean age was 38·0 years (SD 15·3; range 16–83). 102 (86%) participants in the active Alpha-Stim AID group and 98 (83%) in the sham group were followed up 16 weeks after randomisation. In the ITT population, mean change in GRID-HDRS-17 at 16 weeks was –5·9 (95% CI –7·1 to –4·8) in the active Alpha-Stim AID group and –6·5 (–7·7 to –5·4) in the sham group (mean change difference –0·6 [95% CI –1·0 to 2·2], p=0·46). Among the 236 participants, 17 adverse events were reported in 17 (7%) participants (nine [8%] participants in the active Alpha-Stim AID group; and eight [7%] participants in the sham group). One serious adverse event of suicidal ideation leading to hospitalisation was reported in the sham group, which was judged to be unrelated to the device. Interpretation Active Alpha-Stim AID was safe and acceptable, but no more clinically effective than sham Alpha-Stim AID in major depression. Funding
  • Factors influencing COVID-19 health protective behaviours in Zambian university students with symptoms of low mood

    Davies, E. Bethan; Glazebrook, Cris (2023)
    BACKGROUND: Health protective behaviours are crucial in the prevention of the spread of COVID-19, particularly in university students who typically live and study in large groups. Depression and anxiety are common in students and can impact young people's motivations to follow health advice. The study aims to assess the relationship between mental health and COVID-19 health-protective behaviours in Zambian university students with symptoms of low mood. METHODS: The study was a cross-sectional, online survey of Zambian university students. Participants were also invited to take part in a semi-structured interview to explore views about COVID-19 vaccination. Invitation emails were sent explaining the study aims and directed students who self-identified as having low mood in the past two weeks to an online survey. Measures included COVID-19 preventive behaviours, COVID-19-related self-efficacy, and Hospital and Anxiety Depression scale. RESULTS: A total of 620 students (n=308 female, n=306 male) participated in the study, with a mean participant age of 22.47±3.29 years (range 18-51). Students reported a mean protective behaviour score of 74.09/105 and 74% scored above the threshold for possible anxiety disorder. Three-way ANOVA showed lower COVID-19 protective behaviours in students with possible anxiety disorder (p=.024) and those with low self-efficacy (p<0.001). Only 168 (27%) said they would accept vaccination against COVID-19, with male students being twice as likely to be willing to accept COVID-19 vaccination (p<0.001). Of 50 students interviewed. 30 (60%) expressed fears about the vaccination and 16 (32%) were concerned about a lack of information. Only 8 (16%) participants expressed doubts about effectiveness. CONCLUSION: Students who self-identify as having symptoms of depression have high levels of anxiety. The results suggest that interventions to reduce anxiety and promote self-efficacy might enhance students' COVID-19 protective behaviours. Qualitative data provided insight into the high rates of vaccine hesitancy in this population.
  • Psychological risk factors for depression in the UK general population: derailment, self-criticism and self-reassurance

    Kotera, Yasuhiro (2022)
    ABSTRACTUK depression prevalence is increasing. In this study we appraised the relationships between psychological factors of derailment, self-criticism, self-reassurance and depression, to identify individual differences within the UK general population indicating those at higher risk. Participants completed self-report measures regarding these constructs. Relationships were assessed using correlation and path analyses. Derailment and self-criticism predicted depression positively, whereas self-reassurance predicted depression negatively. Self-criticism mediated derailment?s relation to depression. Self-reassurance moderated derailment?s relation to depression, with low self-reassurance indicating greater depression, though self-reassurance was not found to moderate the effect of derailment-associated self-criticism on depression. In depression treatment therefore derailment should be considered as a target factor to be reduced, since derailment indicates a risk of depression for individuals with high self-criticism or low self-reassurance. .
  • Making remote measurement technology work in multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and depression: survey of healthcare professionals

    Andrews, Jacob A.; Craven, Michael P.; Lang, Alexandra; Guo, Boliang; Morriss, Richard K.; Hollis, Chris P. (2022)
    BACKGROUND: Epilepsy, multiple sclerosis (MS) and depression are long term, central nervous system disorders which have a significant impact on everyday life. Evaluating symptoms of these conditions is problematic and typically involves repeated visits to a clinic. Remote measurement technology (RMT), consisting of smartphone apps and wearables, may offer a way to improve upon existing methods of managing these conditions. The present study aimed to establish the practical requirements that would enable clinical integration of data from patients' RMT, according to healthcare professionals. METHODS: This paper reports findings from an online survey of 1006 healthcare professionals currently working in the care of people with epilepsy, MS or depression. The survey included questions on types of data considered useful, how often data should be collected, the value of RMT data, preferred methods of accessing the data, benefits and challenges to RMT implementation, impact of RMT data on clinical practice, and requirement for technical support. The survey was presented on the JISC online surveys platform. RESULTS: Among this sample of 1006 healthcare professionals, respondents were positive about the benefits of RMT, with 73.2% indicating their service would be likely or highly likely to benefit from the implementation of RMT in patient care plans. The data from patients' RMT devices should be made available to all nursing and medical team members and could be reviewed between consultations where flagged by the system. However, results suggest it is also likely that RMT data would be reviewed in preparation for and during a consultation with a patient. Time to review information is likely to be one of the greatest barriers to successful implementation of RMT in clinical practice. CONCLUSIONS: While further work would be required to quantify the benefits of RMT in clinical practice, the findings from this survey suggest that a wide array of clinical team members treating epilepsy, MS and depression would find benefit from RMT data in the care of their patients. Findings presented could inform the implementation of RMT and other digital interventions in the clinical management of a range of neurological and mental health conditions.
  • Sleep deprivation as a treatment for major depressive episodes: A systematic review and meta-analysis

    Roberts, Samantha (2022)
    Summary Sleep deprivation, alone or in combination with pharmacological treatment and as part of a chronotherapy package, is of potential use for people with major depressive episodes, however the evidence base is still conflicting. The aim of this systematic review and meta-analysis is to assess the clinical effects of sleep deprivation in comparison to any other intervention for the acute and long-term treatment of mood disorders. We searched electronic databases and trial registries (last update: 16th October 2021) for published and unpublished randomised controlled trials recruiting participants with a major depressive episode in unipolar or bipolar affective disorder. The clinical outcomes of interest were the reduction in depressive symptoms at different timepoints and the number of participants experiencing at least one side effect. Overall, 29 trials (1246 participants) were included. We did not find any difference in change in symptoms or all-cause discontinuation between interventions including SD compared to a control of the same intervention except without SD. In the included studies there were no available data for adverse events. Using the most methodologically rigorous approach, we did not find evidence that the addition of sleep deprivation to treatment packages leads to enhanced depressive outcomes.
  • STAndardised DIagnostic Assessment for children and young people with emotional difficulties (STADIA): protocol for a multicentre randomised controlled trial

    Ewart, Colleen; Thomson, Louise; Bradley, Ellen; Newman, Kristina L.; Sayal, Kapil (2022)
    Introduction Emotional disorders (such as anxiety and depression) are associated with considerable distress and impairment in day-to-day function for affected children and young people and for their families. Effective evidence-based interventions are available but require appropriate identification of difficulties to enable timely access to services. Standardised diagnostic assessment (SDA) tools may aid in the detection of emotional disorders, but there is limited evidence on the utility of SDA tools in routine care and equipoise among professionals about their clinical value.Methods and analysis A multicentre, two-arm, parallel group randomised controlled trial, with embedded qualitative and health economic components. Participants will be randomised in a 1:1 ratio to either the Development and Well-Being Assessment SDA tool as an adjunct to usual clinical care, or usual care only. A total of 1210 participants (children and young people referred to outpatient, specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services with emotional difficulties and their parent/carers) will be recruited from at least 6 sites in England. The primary outcome is a clinician-made diagnosis about the presence of an emotional disorder within 12 months of randomisation. Secondary outcomes include referral acceptance, diagnosis and treatment of emotional disorders, symptoms of emotional difficulties and comorbid disorders and associated functional impairment.Ethics and dissemination The study received favourable opinion from the South Birmingham Research Ethics Committee (Ref. 19/WM/0133). Results of this trial will be reported to the funder and published in full in the Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Journal series and also submitted for publication in a peer reviewed journal.Trial registration number ISRCTN15748675; Pre-results.
  • Resting-state functional connectivity correlates of anxiety co-morbidity in major depressive disorder

    Briley, Paul M.; Webster, Lucy; Boutry, Clement; Liddle, Peter F.; Morriss, Richard K. (2022)
    Major depressive disorder (MDD) is frequently co-morbid with anxiety disorders. The co-morbid state has poorer functional outcomes and greater resistance to first line treatments, highlighting the need for novel treatment targets. This systematic review examined differences in resting-state brain connectivity associated with anxiety comorbidity in young- and middle-aged adults with MDD, with the aim of identifying novel targets for neuromodulation treatments, as these treatments are thought to work partly by altering dysfunctional connectivity pathways. Twenty-one studies met inclusion criteria, including a total of 1292 people with MDD. Only two studies included people with MDD and formally diagnosed co-morbid anxiety disorders; the remainder included people with MDD with dimensional anxiety measurement. The quality of most studies was judged as fair. Results were heterogeneous, partly due to a focus on a small set of connectivity relationships within individual studies. There was evidence for dysconnectivity between the amygdala and other brain networks in co-morbid anxiety, and an indication that abnormalities of default mode network connectivity may play an underappreciated role in this condition.
  • Psychological treatments for depression and anxiety in dementia and mild cognitive impairment

    Orrell, Martin (2022)
    BACKGROUNDExperiencing anxiety and depression is very common in people living with dementia and mild cognitive impairment (MCI). There is uncertainty about the best treatment approach. Drug treatments may be ineffective and associated with adverse effects. Guidelines recommend psychological treatments. In this updated systematic review, we investigated the effectiveness of different psychological treatment approaches.OBJECTIVESPrimary objective To assess the clinical effectiveness of psychological interventions in reducing depression and anxiety in people with dementia or MCI. Secondary objectives To determine whether psychological interventions improve individuals' quality of life, cognition, activities of daily living (ADL), and reduce behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia, and whether they improve caregiver quality of life or reduce caregiver burden.SEARCH METHODSWe searched ALOIS, the Cochrane Dementia and Cognitive Improvement Group's register, MEDLINE, Embase, four other databases, and three trials registers on 18 February 2021.SELECTION CRITERIAWe included randomised controlled trials (RCTs) that compared a psychological intervention for depression or anxiety with treatment as usual (TAU) or another control intervention in people with dementia or MCI.DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSISA minimum of two authors worked independently to select trials, extract data, and assess studies for risk of bias. We classified the included psychological interventions as cognitive behavioural therapies (cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), behavioural activation (BA), problem-solving therapy (PST)); 'third-wave' therapies (such as mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT)); supportive and counselling therapies; and interpersonal therapies. We compared each class of intervention with control. We expressed treatment effects as standardised mean differences or risk ratios. Where possible, we pooled data using a fixed-effects model. We used GRADE methods to assess the certainty of the evidence behind each result.MAIN RESULTSWe included 29 studies with 2599 participants. They were all published between 1997 and 2020. There were 15 trials of cognitive behavioural therapies (4 CBT, 8 BA, 3 PST), 11 trials of supportive and counselling therapies, three trials of MBCT, and one of interpersonal therapy. The comparison groups received either usual care, attention-control education, or enhanced usual care incorporating an active control condition that was not a specific psychological treatment. There were 24 trials of people with a diagnosis of dementia, and five trials of people with MCI. Most studies were conducted in community settings. We considered none of the studies to be at low risk of bias in all domains.  Cognitive behavioural therapies (CBT, BA, PST) Cognitive behavioural therapies are probably slightly better than treatment as usual or active control conditions for reducing depressive symptoms (standardised mean difference (SMD) -0.23, 95% CI -0.37 to -0.10; 13 trials, 893 participants; moderate-certainty evidence). They may also increase rates of depression remission at the end of treatment (risk ratio (RR) 1.84, 95% CI 1.18 to 2.88; 2 studies, with one study contributing 2 independent comparisons, 146 participants; low-certainty evidence). We were very uncertain about the effect of cognitive behavioural therapies on anxiety at the end of treatment (SMD -0.03, 95% CI -0.36 to 0.30; 3 trials, 143 participants; very low-certainty evidence). Cognitive behavioural therapies probably improve patient quality of life (SMD 0.31, 95% CI 0.13 to 0.50; 7 trials, 459 participants; moderate-certainty evidence) and activities of daily living at end of treatment compared to treatment as usual or active control (SMD -0.25, 95% CI -0.40 to -0.09; 7 trials, 680 participants; moderate-certainty evidence). Supportive and counselling interventions Meta-analysis showed that supportive and counselling interventions may have little or no effect on depressive symptoms in people with dementia compared to usual care at end of treatment (SMD - .05, 95% CI -0.18 to 0.07; 9 trials, 994 participants; low-certainty evidence). We were very uncertain about the effects of these treatments on anxiety, which was assessed only in one small pilot study. Other interventions There were very few data and very low-certainty evidence on MBCT and interpersonal therapy, so we were unable to draw any conclusions about the effectiveness of these interventions.AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONSCBT-based treatments added to usual care probably slightly reduce symptoms of depression for people with dementia and MCI and may increase rates of remission of depression. There may be important effect modifiers (degree of baseline depression, cognitive diagnosis, or content of the intervention). CBT-based treatments probably also have a small positive effect on quality of life and activities of daily living. Supportive and counselling interventions may not improve symptoms of depression in people with dementia. Effects of both types of treatment on anxiety symptoms are very uncertain. We are also uncertain about the effects of other types of psychological treatments, and about persistence of effects over time. To inform clinical guidelines, future studies should assess detailed components of these interventions and their implementation in different patient populations and in different settings.
  • Feasibility, acceptability and costs of nurse-led Alpha-Stim cranial electrostimulation to treat anxiety and depression in university students

    Morriss, Richard K. (2022)
    BACKGROUND: Only a relatively low proportion of university students seek help for anxiety and depression disorders, partly because they dislike current drug and psychological treatment options and would prefer home-based care. The aim of this study is to determine the feasibility, acceptability and cost utility of Alpha-Stim cranial electrostimulation (CES) delivered through a nurse led primary care clinic as a daily treatment for anxiety and depression symptoms by the student at home in contrast to usual primary care. METHOD: Feasibility and acceptability of a nurse led clinic offering Alpha-Stim CES in terms of the take up and completion of the six-week course of Alpha-Stim CES. Change in score on the GAD-7 and PHQ-9 as measures of anxiety and depression symptoms at baseline and at 8 weeks following a course of Alpha-Stim CES. Similar evaluation in a non-randomised control group attending a family doctor over the same period. Cost-utility analysis of the nurse led Alpha-Stim CES and family doctor pathways with participants failing to improve following further NICE Guideline clinical care (facilitated self-help and cognitive behaviour therapy). RESULTS: Of 47 students (mean age 22.1, years, 79% female opting for Alpha-Stim CES at the nurse-led clinic 46 (97.9%) completed a 6-week daily course. Forty-seven (47) students comprised a comparison group receiving usual family doctor care. Both Alpha-Stim CES and usual family doctor care were associated with large effect size reductions in GAD-7 and PHQ-9 scores from baseline to 8 weeks. There were no adverse effects and only one participant showed a clinically important deterioration in the Alpha-Stim group. In the cost utility analysis, Alpha-Stim CES was a cheaper option than usual family doctor care under all deterministic or probabilistic assumptions. CONCLUSION: Nurse delivered Alpha-Stim CES may be a feasible, acceptable and cheaper way of providing greater choice and home-based care for some university students seeking help from primary care with new presentations of anxiety and depression.
  • A randomised controlled trial investigating the clinical and cost-effectiveness of Alpha-Stim AID cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES) in patients seeking treatment for moderate severity depression in primary care (Alpha-Stim-D Trial)

    Patel, Shireen; Boutry, Clement; Patel, Priya; Craven, Michael P.; Guo, Boliang; Butler, Debbie; Higton, Fred; McNaughton, Rebecca; Briley, Paul M.; Nixon, Neil L.; et al. (2022)
    BACKGROUNDMajor depression is the second leading cause of years lost to disability worldwide and is a leading contributor to suicide. However, first-line antidepressants are only fully effective for 33%, and only 40% of those offered psychological treatment attend for two sessions or more. Views gained from patients and primary care professionals are that greater treatment uptake might be achieved if people with depression could be offered alternative and more accessible treatment options. Although there is evidence that the Alpha-Stim Anxiety Insomnia and Depression (AID) device is safe and effective for anxiety and depression symptoms in people with anxiety disorders, there is much less evidence of efficacy in major depression without anxiety. This study investigates the effectiveness of the Alpha-Stim AID device, a cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES) treatment that people can safely use independently at home. The device provides CES which has been shown to increase alpha oscillatory brain activity, associated with relaxation.METHODSThe aim of this study is to investigate the clinical and cost-effectiveness of Alpha-Stim AID in treatment-seeking patients (aged 16 years upwards) with moderate to moderately severe depressive symptoms in primary care. The study is a multi-centre parallel-group, double-blind, non-commercial, randomised controlled superiority trial. The primary objective of the study is to examine the clinical efficacy of active daily use of 8 weeks of Alpha-Stim AID versus sham Alpha-Stim AID on depression symptoms at 16 weeks (8 weeks after the end of treatment) in people with moderate severity depression. The primary outcome is the 17-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale at 16 weeks. All trial and treatment procedures are carried out remotely using videoconferencing, telephone and postal delivery considering the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.DISCUSSIONThis study is investigating whether participants using the Alpha-Stim AID device display a reduction in depressive symptoms that can be maintained over 8 weeks post-treatment. The findings will help to determine whether Alpha-Stim AID should be recommended, including being made available in the NHS for patients with depressive symptoms.TRIAL REGISTRATIONISRTCN ISRCTN11853110 . Registered on 14 August 2020.
  • Association between mirtazapine use and serious self-harm in people with depression: an active comparator cohort study using UK electronic health records

    Morriss, Richard K.; Butler, Debbie; Hollis, Chris P. (2022)
    Background Studies report an increased risk of self-harm or suicide in people prescribed mirtazapine compared with other antidepressants.Objectives To compare the risk of serious self-harm in people prescribed mirtazapine versus other antidepressants as second-line treatments.Design and setting Cohort study using anonymised English primary care electronic health records, hospital admission data and mortality data with study window 1 January 2005 to 30 November 2018.Participants 24 516 people diagnosed with depression, aged 18–99 years, initially prescribed a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) and then prescribed mirtazapine, a different SSRI, amitriptyline or venlafaxine.Main outcome measures Hospitalisation or death due to deliberate self-harm. Age–sex standardised rates were calculated and survival analyses were performed using inverse probability of treatment weighting to account for baseline covariates.Results Standardised rates of serious self-harm ranged from 3.8/1000 person-years (amitriptyline) to 14.1/1000 person-years (mirtazapine). After weighting, the risk of serious self-harm did not differ significantly between the mirtazapine group and the SSRI or venlafaxine groups (HRs (95% CI) 1.18 (0.84 to 1.65) and 0.85 (0.51 to 1.41) respectively). The risk was significantly higher in the mirtazapine than the amitriptyline group (3.04 (1.36 to 6.79)) but was attenuated after adjusting for dose.Conclusions There was no evidence for a difference in risk between mirtazapine and SSRIs or venlafaxine after accounting for baseline characteristics. The higher risk in the mirtazapine versus the amitriptyline group might reflect residual confounding if amitriptyline is avoided in people considered at risk of self-harm.Clinical implications Addressing baseline risk factors and careful monitoring might improve outcomes for people at risk of serious self-harm.No data are available. Data used in the study were provided under licence by CPRD (www.cprd.com) and cannot be shared by the authors. All code lists and the statistical code (in the form of Stata do-files) used to prepare and analyse the data are available on Zenodo.org (https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.4779024).
  • The risk of all-cause and cause-specific mortality in people prescribed mirtazapine: an active comparator cohort study using electronic health records

    Morriss, Richard K.; Butler, Debbie; Hollis, Chris P. (2022)
    BACKGROUNDStudies have reported an increased risk of mortality among people prescribed mirtazapine compared to other antidepressants. The study aimed to compare all-cause and cause-specific mortality between adults prescribed mirtazapine or other second-line antidepressants.METHODSThis cohort study used English primary care electronic medical records, hospital admission records, and mortality data from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD), for the period 01 January 2005 to 30 November 2018. It included people aged 18-99 years with depression first prescribed a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) and then prescribed mirtazapine (5081), a different SSRI (15,032), amitriptyline (3905), or venlafaxine (1580). Follow-up was from starting to stopping the second antidepressant, with a 6-month wash-out window, censoring at the end of CPRD follow-up or 30 November 2018. Age-sex standardised rates of all-cause mortality and death due to circulatory system disease, cancer, or respiratory system disease were calculated. Survival analyses were performed, accounting for baseline characteristics using inverse probability of treatment weighting.RESULTSThe cohort contained 25,598 people (median age 41 years). The mirtazapine group had the highest standardised mortality rate, with an additional 7.8 (95% confidence interval (CI) 5.9-9.7) deaths/1000 person-years compared to the SSRI group. Within 2 years of follow-up, the risk of all-cause mortality was statistically significantly higher in the mirtazapine group than in the SSRI group (weighted hazard ratio (HR) 1.62, 95% CI 1.28-2.06). No significant difference was found between the mirtazapine group and the amitriptyline (HR 1.18, 95% CI 0.85-1.63) or venlafaxine (HR 1.11, 95% CI 0.60-2.05) groups. After 2 years, the risk was significantly higher in the mirtazapine group compared to the SSRI (HR 1.51, 95% CI 1.04-2.19), amitriptyline (HR 2.59, 95% CI 1.38-4.86), and venlafaxine (HR 2.35, 95% CI 1.02-5.44) groups. The risks of death due to cancer (HR 1.74, 95% CI 1.06-2.85) and respiratory system disease (HR 1.72, 95% CI 1.07-2.77) were significantly higher in the mirtazapine than in the SSRI group.CONCLUSIONSMortality was higher in people prescribed mirtazapine than people prescribed a second SSRI, possibly reflecting residual differences in other risk factors between the groups. Identifying these potential health risks when prescribing mirtazapine may help reduce the risk of mortality.
  • Connectivity-guided theta burst transcranial magnetic stimulation versus repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation for treatment-resistent moderate to severe depression: Magnetic resonance imaging protocol and SARS-CoV-2-induced changes for a randomized double-blind controlled trial

    Briley, Paul M.; Kaylor-Hughes, Catherine; Shalabi, Abdulrhman; Liddle, Peter F.; Morriss, Richard K. (2022)
    Background: Depression is a substantial health and economic burden. In approximately one-third of patients, depression is resistant to first-line treatment; therefore, it is essential to find alternative treatments. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a neuromodulatory treatment involving the application of magnetic pulses to the brain that is approved in the United Kingdom and the United States in treatment-resistant depression. This trial aims to compare the clinical effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, and mechanism of action of standard treatment repetitive TMS (rTMS) targeted at the F3 electroencephalogram site with a newer treatment—a type of TMS called theta burst stimulation (TBS) targeted based on measures of functional brain connectivity. This protocol outlines brain imaging acquisition and analysis for the Brain Imaging Guided Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation in Depression (BRIGhTMIND) study trial that is used to create personalized TMS targets and answer the proposed mechanistic hypotheses. Objective: The aims of the imaging arm of the BRIGhTMIND study are to identify functional and neurochemical brain signatures indexing the treatment mechanisms of rTMS and connectivity-guided intermittent theta burst TMS and to identify imaging-based markers predicting response to treatment. Methods: The study is a randomized double-blind controlled trial with 1:1 allocation to either 20 sessions of TBS or standard rTMS. Multimodal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is acquired for each participant at baseline (before TMS treatment) with T1-weighted and task-free functional MRI during rest used to estimate TMS targets. For participants enrolled in the mechanistic substudy, additional diffusion-weighted sequences are acquired at baseline and at posttreatment follow-up 16 weeks after treatment randomization. Core data sets of T1-weighted and task-free functional MRI during rest are acquired for all participants and are used to estimate TMS targets. Additional sequences of arterial spin labeling, magnetic resonance spectroscopy, and diffusion-weighted images are acquired depending on the recruitment site for mechanistic evaluation. Standard rTMS treatment is targeted at the F3 electrode site over the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, whereas TBS treatment is guided using the coordinate of peak effective connectivity from the right anterior insula to the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Both treatment targets benefit from the level of MRI guidance, but only TBS is provided with precision targeting based on functional brain connectivity. Results: Recruitment began in January 2019 and is ongoing. Data collection is expected to continue until January 2023. Conclusions: This trial will determine the impact of precision MRI guidance on rTMS treatment and assess the neural mechanisms underlying this treatment in treatment-resistant depressed patients.
  • Association between mirtazapine use and serious self-harm in people with depression: an active comparator cohort study using UK electronic health records

    Morriss, Richard K.; Butler, Debbie; Hollis, Chris P. (2022)
    Background Studies report an increased risk of self-harm or suicide in people prescribed mirtazapine compared with other antidepressants.Objectives To compare the risk of serious self-harm in people prescribed mirtazapine versus other antidepressants as second-line treatments.Design and setting Cohort study using anonymised English primary care electronic health records, hospital admission data and mortality data with study window 1 January 2005 to 30 November 2018.Participants 24 516 people diagnosed with depression, aged 18–99 years, initially prescribed a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) and then prescribed mirtazapine, a different SSRI, amitriptyline or venlafaxine.Main outcome measures Hospitalisation or death due to deliberate self-harm. Age–sex standardised rates were calculated and survival analyses were performed using inverse probability of treatment weighting to account for baseline covariates.Results Standardised rates of serious self-harm ranged from 3.8/1000 person-years (amitriptyline) to 14.1/1000 person-years (mirtazapine). After weighting, the risk of serious self-harm did not differ significantly between the mirtazapine group and the SSRI or venlafaxine groups (HRs (95% CI) 1.18 (0.84 to 1.65) and 0.85 (0.51 to 1.41) respectively). The risk was significantly higher in the mirtazapine than the amitriptyline group (3.04 (1.36 to 6.79)) but was attenuated after adjusting for dose.Conclusions There was no evidence for a difference in risk between mirtazapine and SSRIs or venlafaxine after accounting for baseline characteristics. The higher risk in the mirtazapine versus the amitriptyline group might reflect residual confounding if amitriptyline is avoided in people considered at risk of self-harm.Clinical implications Addressing baseline risk factors and careful monitoring might improve outcomes for people at risk of serious self-harm.No data are available. Data used in the study were provided under licence by CPRD (www.cprd.com) and cannot be shared by the authors. All code lists and the statistical code (in the form of Stata do-files) used to prepare and analyse the data are available on Zenodo.org (https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.4779024).
  • Primary care depression advice clinic

    Ludvigsen, Anna; Nixon, Neil L. (2019)
    Aims and Objectives: The aim of the Depression Advice Clinic (DAC) was to provide timely specialist advice on depression management within a primary care setting for individuals suffering from treatment resistant or recurrent depression. Method(s): The clinic was located in a primary care centre and offered one-off 90 minute assessments to patients referred by their GPs. Patients were seen by a senior psychiatry trainee who conducted a comprehensive psychiatric history, examination, diagnosis and bio-psycho-social formulation. Following discussion with the supervising consultant psychiatrist a letter with recommendations for next step treatments was sent to patient and their GP. The clinic employed one full time senior trainee, a consultant psychiatrist at 12.5% full time equivalent and an administrator at 25% full time equivalent as well as incurring overheads for consultation room rental. Result(s): During the 12 month operational period 127 referrals were received and 124 assessment appointments were offered. The mean wait for assessment was 23 days (in secondary care this is closer to 70 days) and the completed assessment rate was 92% (in local audit of secondary care services this was 81%). Following initial assessment 96% patients were discharged to their GP with advice on lifestyle, self-care and next step pharmacological and psychotherapeutic management option. 4% of patients were transferred directly to secondary/ tertiary care psychiatry, for reasons including severity, risk or initiation of medications that could not be carried out in primary care (e.g. Lithium). Discussion(s): The DAC achieved its aim of providing timely assessment and advice for people suffering from persistent or recurrent depression with most patients being seen much sooner than they would have had they been referred to secondary care. There were also some surprising, and potentially significant, findings from the clinic: more men were referred to the clinic than would have been expected to be seen in secondary services and one third of patients referred with an existing diagnosis of depression had this diagnosis changed following assessment (primarily to one of the anxiety disorders). Each of the patients referred from the DAC into secondary and tertiary care disclosed that they had made plans to end their life which they had concealed form their families and GPs and that being seen in the clinic had prevented them from acting on their plans. Conclusion(s): Referral rates, completed appointment rates and stakeholder feedback suggest that the DAC was an operationally feasible way of working across primary, secondary and tertiary care, whilst also being acceptable to GPs and patients. It is estimated that the average cost per completed suicide for those of working age in England is 1.67m. Since at least three patients reported that being seen in the clinic had prevented them from ending their lives the DAC was also a cost effective way of decreasing the mortality and morbidity resulting from chronic and recurring depression.
  • Depressive symptoms, social support, and health-related quality of life: A community-based study in Shanghai, China

    Crawford, Paul; Kane, Eddie (2021)
    BACKGROUNDDepressive symptoms erode both physical and mental aspects of health-related quality of life (HRQoL). Social support (SS) may improve HRQoL through its direct effects or buffering effects. The association among depressive symptoms, SS, and HRQoL has been studied in specific groups, but research in the general adult population remains limited. This study examined the association among depressive symptoms, SS, and HRQoL, including exploring whether SS (including its three dimensions: subjective SS, objective SS and support utilization) mediated or moderated the relationship between depressive symptoms and HRQoL among community-based adults.METHODSWe conducted a cross-sectional survey in six communities in Shanghai, China, and 1642 adult participants with complete information on depressive symptoms and/or SS, and HRQoL were included. Linear regression analysis was used to investigate the association among depressive symptoms, SS, and HRQoL. In addition, we explored the mediating and moderating role of SS in the relationship between depressive symptoms and HRQoL.RESULTSMore depressive symptoms were associated with lower physical HRQoL (B = -0.64, p < .001) and lower mental HRQoL (B = -0.83, p < .001). SS (B = 0.07, p = .02), specifically subjective SS (B = 0.09, p = .03), was positively related to mental HRQoL. After adjusting for covariates, we found no evidence for a mediating role of SS in the relationship between depressive symptoms and HRQoL, while SS (subjective SS and objective SS) moderated the association between depressive symptoms and mental HRQoL.LIMITATIONSDue to the low voluntary participation rate of employees, participants represented approximately 50% of the individuals approached, thus limiting the generalizability of our findings. Data collected through self-report scales could lead to information bias.CONCLUSIONSSS does not appear to underlie the relationship between depressive symptoms and HRQoL. However, interventions to increase SS (in particular, subjective SS and objective SS) should be studied to determine whether they may be beneficial in alleviating the adverse impact of depressive symptoms on mental HRQoL.

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