The Cochrane Schizophrenia Group

CSzG at the 14th International Federation of Psychiatric Epidemiology conference

on June 28, 2013

Three days after returning from an extremely relaxing holiday in Greece, I was back at the airport to board a flight to Leipzig, Germany. The event put me firmly back into work-mode, with the prospect of presenting both poster and plenary session on two research topics undertaken at the CSzG base during the past year.

With over 300 epidemiologists attending the conference at the Westin Hotel, central Leipzig, the opportunity to keep in the loop of on-going research, newly published material, or just to get a different perspective was prevalent in every symposium hall. Friday’s schizophrenia symposium speakers gave insight into various areas of interest: including risk factors for different psychosis syndromes; prediction tools for incidence of first episode psychosis; social adversity over life course increase of psychosis; and a study counteracting internalized stigma with day clinic treatment for people with schizophrenia (the results of which called for larger RCTs to confirm any positive findings). Some representation for RCTs did not go amiss.

On a slightly different note from what the key speakers had to offer, I presented a poster on a soon-to-be published Cochrane review on intermittent drug techniques for schizophrenia. The findings of which are already common knowledge; that intermittent antipsychotic treatment is not as effective as continuous, maintained antipsychotic therapy for preventing relapse in people with schizophrenia. However the results show that it is significantly better than no treatment at all. Again, something psychiatrists and clinicians know; what took people’s interest was the topical symposium discussion on new technologies on prevention and treatment.

Reminders

Reminders (Photo credit: JoshMPlant)

It was an honour to have been invited to present research undertaken by Sam Adams and Natalie English on the final day of the conference – at 8:30am, with a particularly good turn-out to listen and learn about the way medication reminder apps in Android and Apple technologies may help people (prone to forgetfulness) to take their medication. Sam and Natalie ran a search on free medication reminder apps available to both Apple and Android, in order to test ease of use and general functionality. With a total of six apps to compare, it is true that there were limited free apps that were available that generally demonstrated very different functions, with only text banner alerts serving as a common theme between each. However, the app of choice, Dosecast, was rated highly for ease of use and accessibility (which is now being tested in an on-going RCT to test medication adherence in adolescents and young adults with cancer in Seattle Children’s Hospital). Exactly the point of Sam and Natalie’s research: To acknowledge the technology that is free and currently available for smartphones and to keep up-to-date with pharmaceutical companies who are jumping on the bandwagon – to whose end is debatable. Namely, Janssen’s ‘Care4 Today’ medication reminder app has great potential to see that time and resources are invested into investigating the effectiveness these technologies have on medication adherence. Ultimately – the closing message was “no to propaganda”, “yes to RCTs and systematic reviews”!

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