The Cochrane Schizophrenia Group

Are you really at risk of attack by someone with schizophrenia?

By Rebecca Syed, Research Fellow at King’s College London and an Editor for the CSzG

A violent attack by someone who is mentally ill quickly grabs the headlines. And it’s usually implied that mental illnesses are a preventable cause of violent crime. Tackle that and we can all sleep safer in our beds.

But by pressuring mental health services to focus on the risk of violence we are in danger of actually increasing it.

Most of the debate around risk and offending has centred around schizophrenia – the bread and butter of community psychiatry. But what is the evidence relating to the risk of violence in those diagnosed with schizophrenia? Read the rest of this entry »

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CSzG at the 14th International Federation of Psychiatric Epidemiology conference

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. Read the rest of this entry »

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Through the eyes of a service user

By Ben Gray, Consumer Peer Reviewer and Plain Language Summary writer

English: Close-up of 0.5mg tablets of the bran...

English: Close-up of 0.5mg tablets of the brand name benzodiazepine drug, Ativan. Generic name is Lorazepam. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

‘People with mental health problems may exhibit agitated, violent and aggressive behaviour which can be a danger to themselves or others. Usually, de-escalation techniques such as talking to the patient are used to calm down the situation. However, people’s behaviour may be too disturbed, violent or agitated. In these circumstances, rapid tranquillisation is given to achieve a state of calm. Three major classes of drugs are used to achieve rapid tranquillisation: typical antipsychotics; benzodiazepines; and more recently atypical antipsychotics. …’ Read more

(excerpt from the Plain Language Summary for Benzodiazepines alone or in combination with antipsychotic drugs for acute psychosis)

From a service user perspective, having a mental health problem can be an experience that is frightening, agitating and even terrifying.  Hearing voices and seeing things can make people feel scared and panic, so that they become agitated.  A person I knew in hospital often saw people covered in snakes, while another saw people on fire.  I myself have heard frightening and taunting voices, saying: “You wait until you see what I’m going to do to you!”. Read the rest of this entry »

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Measuring the Outcomes of trials

By Mark Fenton, CSzG Editor and Editor for Database of Uncertainties about the Effects of Treatments (DUETs)

The job I get paid to do is as Editor of a database about things we know we don’t know (UK DUETS – http://www.library.nhs.uk/duets/) and one of the fields in a UK DUETs entry is to record the outcomes which should be addressed if the uncertainty should be taken up for future research.

Smiley Face 5 Satisfaction Scale

Smiley Face 5 Satisfaction Scale (Photo credit: cathyinoz)

I think it might be fair to say that I have spent a lot of time in the past seven years thinking about outcomes that should be measured in all sorts of trials, not just trials for those with schizophrenia. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Clozapine rollercoaster

By Mahesh Jayaram, CSzG Editor and Clinical Consultant Psychiatrist

This is my first ever blog, hence not sure how I go about writing this, however here it goes….
My life as a psychiatrist often involves dealing with people who present with difficulties that even after years of knowing someone takes me aback. Not knowing what challenge will present itself is what makes my job interesting keeps me going. Sometimes though, there is the frustration of coming across the same problem that has confronted me before and not having the right solutions. Patients suffering from schizophrenia have to deal with not only their symptoms, which can often be intrusive and disabling but also with the consequences of suffering from the illness, stigma and impact, it has on their lives. In addition, the medications that are available for this condition are imperfect and cause unacceptable side effects. Read the rest of this entry »

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