News and Commentary Archive

Explore recent scientific discoveries and news as well as CLBB events, commentary, and press.

Mission

The speed of technology in neuroscience as it impacts ethical and just decisions in the legal system needs to be understood by lawyers, judges, public policy makers, and the general public. The Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Law, Brain, and Behavior is an academic and professional resource for the education, research, and understanding of neuroscience and the law. Read more

McLean OnTrack: A Transdiagnostic Program for Early Intervention in First-Episode Psychosis

By Ann K. Shinn, Kirsten W. Bolton, Rakesh Karmacharya, Kathryn E. Lewandowski, Cagri Yuksel, Justin T. Baker, Virginie-Anne Chouinard, Samira M. Pingali, Hilary Bye, Katherine Cederbaum, and Dost Öngür | Early Intervention in Psychiatry | November 29, 2015

Abstract:

Aims

Most programs specializing in the treatment of first-episode psychosis in the United States focus on schizophrenia. However, many early psychosis patients do not fit into this diagnostic category. Here we describe McLean OnTrack, an intensive outpatient treatment program that accepts all comers with first-episode psychosis.

Methods

We assessed baseline characteristics of patients in the 2.5 years since program initiation. We examined how initial referral diagnoses compare with current diagnoses, calculating the proportion of diagnostic changes.

Results

At 2.5 years, patients in McLean OnTrack consist of 30 (33.0%) individuals with primary psychotic disorder, 40 (44.0%) with affective psychosis, 19 (20.9%) with psychotic disorder not otherwise specified (NOS) who do not meet full criteria for either category and two (2.2%) individuals with no psychosis. Although patients with affective psychosis had higher pre-morbid functioning, all three categories of psychosis had similar rates of prior hospitalizations and substance use. The retention rate in the psychotic disorder NOS group was lower than that in affective and primary psychotic disorders. Finally, diagnoses changed over the course of treatment in 50.5% of patients.

Conclusions

Diagnostic heterogeneity appears to be the norm among patients with first-episode psychosis, and diagnoses commonly evolve over the illness course. Baseline indices of illness severity were similar across categories and suggest the need for early intervention, irrespective of specific diagnosis. We discuss the benefits and challenges of a transdiagnostic approach to early intervention in first-episode psychosis, treating patients who share many but not all characteristics.

Read the entire paper here.

Anxiety in Youth at Clinical High Risk for Psychosis

By Laina McAusland, Lisa Buchy, Kristin S. Cadenhead, Tyrone D. Cannon, Barbara A. Cornblatt, Robert Heinssen, Thomas H. McGlashan, Diana O. Perkins, Larry J. Seidman, Ming T. Tsuang, Elaine F. Walker, Scott W. Woods, Carrie E. Bearden, Daniel H. Mathalon, and Jean Addington | Early Intervention in Psychiatry | October 12, 2015

Abstract:

Aim

High rates of anxiety have been observed in youth at clinical high risk (CHR) of developing psychosis. In CHR, anxiety often co-occurs with depression, and there is inconsistent evidence on anxiety in relation to transition to psychosis. The aim of this study was to examine: (i) the prevalence of anxiety disorders in individuals at CHR; (ii) clinical differences between those with and without anxiety; and (iii) the association of baseline anxiety with later transition to psychosis.

Methods

The sample consisted of 765 CHR individuals and 280 healthy controls. CHR status was determined with the Structured Interview of Prodromal Syndromes, mood and anxiety diagnoses with the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Disorders, and severity of anxiety with the Social Interaction Anxiety Scale and Self-Rating Anxiety Scale.

Results

In the CHR sample, 51% met criteria for an anxiety disorder. CHR participants had significantly more anxiety diagnoses and severity than healthy controls. Anxiety was correlated to attenuated psychotic and negative symptoms in CHR and those with an anxiety disorder demonstrated more suspiciousness. CHR participants with obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) exhibited more severe symptomatology than those without OCD. An initial presentation of anxiety did not differ between those who did or did not transition to psychosis.

Conclusions

In this large sample of individuals at CHR, anxiety is common and associated with more severe attenuated psychotic symptoms. Treatment not only to prevent or delay transition to psychosis but also to address presenting concerns, such as anxiety, is warranted.

Read the entire paper here.