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Spiritual distress of military veterans at the end of life

Tue, 11/01/2016 - 9:11am

OBJECTIVE: Although combat experiences can have a profound impact on individuals' spirituality, there is a dearth of research in this area. Our recent study indicates that one unique spiritual need of veterans who are at the end of life is to resolve distress caused by combat-related events that conflict with their personal beliefs. This study sought to gain an understanding of chaplains' perspectives on this type of spiritual need, as well as the spiritual care that chaplains provide to help veterans ease this distress.

METHOD: We individually interviewed five chaplains who have provided spiritual care to veterans at the end of life in a Veterans Administration hospital. The interviews were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed based on "grounded theory."

RESULTS: Chaplains reported that they frequently encounter veterans at the end of life who are still suffering from thoughts or images of events that occurred during their military career. Although some veterans are hesitant to discuss their experiences, chaplains reported that they have had some success with helping the veterans to open up. Additionally, chaplains reported using both religious (e.g., confessing sins) and nonreligious approaches (e.g., recording military experience) to help veterans to heal.

SIGNIFICANCE OF RESULTS: Our pilot study provides some insight into the spiritual distress that many military veterans may be experiencing, as well as methods that a chaplain can employ to help these veterans. Further studies are needed to confirm our findings and to examine the value of integrating the chaplain service into mental health care for veterans.

Mental health and quality of life among veterans employed as peer and vocational rehabilitation specialists

Tue, 11/01/2016 - 9:11am

OBJECTIVE: The study compared employment experiences, mental health recovery, and quality of life among peer specialists and vocational rehabilitation (VR) specialists hired by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the VR specialists under the Homeless Veterans Supported Employment Program. Employment characteristics associated with mental health recovery were examined.

METHODS: The study was a national, observational survey of 152 peer specialists and 222 VR specialists across 138 VA health care systems in 49 states. The survey, administered over the Internet, included measures describing participant characteristics, employment factors, mental health, and quality of life. The two cohorts were compared by using t tests or chi square tests. Multiple regression analysis controlling for participant characteristics was used to identify employment factors associated with mental health and quality of life.

RESULTS: Peer specialists were more likely than VR specialists to share recovery stories, serve as a role model or mentor, and advocate for veterans. Activities by VR specialists tended to focus more narrowly on job skills. Overall, after adjusting for multiple comparisons, the analysis found high levels of mental health and average quality of life for both cohorts, with no significant differences between the groups. Satisfaction with amount of supervision was consistently associated with aspects of mental health recovery, including work-related and helping-related quality of life, for both cohorts.

CONCLUSIONS: The results highlight the value of work and the importance of supervision in realizing both the adoption of recovery-oriented services and the promotion of mental health in a community of veterans serving each other.

Job satisfaction of Department of Veterans Affairs peer mental health providers

Tue, 11/01/2016 - 9:11am

OBJECTIVES: Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) peer specialists and vocational rehabilitation specialists are Veterans employed in mental health services to help other Veterans with similar histories and experiences. Study objectives were to (a) examine job satisfaction among these employees, (b) compare them to other VA mental health workers, and (c) identify factors associated with job satisfaction across the 3 cohorts.

METHODS: The study sample included 152 VA-employed peer specialists and 222 vocational rehabilitation specialists. A comparison group included 460 VA employees from the same job categories. All participants completed the Job Satisfaction Index (11 aspects and overall satisfaction ratings). Linear regression was used to compare job satisfaction and identify its predictors among the 3 cohorts.

RESULTS: Job satisfaction was fairly high, averaging "somewhat satisfied" to "very satisfied" in 6 (peer specialists) and 9 (vocational rehabilitation specialists) of the 11 aspects and overall job ratings. Adjusting for length of employment, age and gender resulted in no significant group differences with 2 exceptions: White peer specialists were less satisfied with pay and promotion opportunities than vocational rehabilitation specialists and comparison-group employees. Across all cohorts, shorter length of time employed in the job was associated with higher job satisfaction.

CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: The high job satisfaction levels among the 2 peer cohorts suggest support for the policy of hiring peer specialists in the VA. Furthermore, the results are consistent with those of the nonveteran samples, indicating that integrating peer providers into mental health care is possible in VA and non-VA settings.

Predictors of Employment Burnout Among VHA Peer Support Specialists

Tue, 11/01/2016 - 9:11am

OBJECTIVE: This study evaluated three domains of job burnout (emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and personal accomplishment) and factors associated with burnout in a national sample of peer specialists (PSs) employed at 138 Veterans Health Administration (VHA) health care systems in 49 states.

METHODS: Data were drawn from an observational study in which participants (N=152) completed online, self-report surveys about their mental health recovery, quality of life, and employment experiences at baseline, six months, and 12 months. Levels of burnout were analyzed at each time point, and regression analyses that controlled for baseline levels identified potential predictors of burnout (demographic, clinical, and employment characteristics) at six and 12 months.

RESULTS: Compared with previously published burnout levels of other mental health workers in the VHA, PSs reported similar levels of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and personal accomplishment. At baseline, increased burnout was correlated with white race, fewer hours providing direct services, greater psychiatric symptoms, and lower self-efficacy. However, analyses did not reveal strong predictors of burnout scores at six or 12 months.

CONCLUSIONS: In the first study to prospectively examine job burnout among PSs employed by the VHA, results illustrate the nuanced experience of burnout over a 12-month period and suggest the need for replication and further research on employment experiences of this emerging workforce.

Perspective: Randomized Controlled Trials Are Not a Panacea for Diet-Related Research

Mon, 10/31/2016 - 4:05pm

Research into the role of diet in health faces a number of methodologic challenges in the choice of study design, measurement methods, and analytic options. Heavier reliance on randomized controlled trial (RCT) designs is suggested as a way to solve these challenges. We present and discuss 7 inherent and practical considerations with special relevance to RCTs designed to study diet: 1) the need for narrow focus; 2) the choice of subjects and exposures; 3) blinding of the intervention; 4) perceived asymmetry of treatment in relation to need; 5) temporal relations between dietary exposures and putative outcomes; 6) strict adherence to the intervention protocol, despite potential clinical counter-indications; and 7) the need to maintain methodologic rigor, including measuring diet carefully and frequently. Alternatives, including observational studies and adaptive intervention designs, are presented and discussed. Given high noise-to-signal ratios interjected by using inaccurate assessment methods in studies with weak or inappropriate study designs (including RCTs), it is conceivable and indeed likely that effects of diet are underestimated. No matter which designs are used, studies will require continued improvement in the assessment of dietary intake. As technology continues to improve, there is potential for enhanced accuracy and reduced user burden of dietary assessments that are applicable to a wide variety of study designs, including RCTs.

Psychiatric history, post-discharge distress, and personality characteristics among incident female cases of takotsubo cardiomyopathy: A case-control study

Mon, 10/31/2016 - 4:05pm

BACKGROUND: The role of psychological factors in the onset of takotsubo cardiomyopathy (TC) is still controversial. Associations with previous psychiatric conditions are registry-based; associations with personality characteristics and psychological sequelae of TC have been largely unexplored. This case-control study sought to study pre-admission psychiatric morbidity, personality traits, and post-discharge distress in incident cases of TC.

METHODS: TC cases (Mayo clinic criteria) and acute myocardial infarction (MI) controls were recruited among women admitted to two Emergency Departments in New England. Healthy controls (HC) were recruited from a volunteers' registry. Preadmission psychiatric history (DSM-IV-TR) was abstracted from the medical record. PTSD symptoms (Impact of Events Scale); distress (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale); perceived stress (PS scale) and personality traits (optimism; hostility, type D personality) were collected via phone interview one month after discharge.

RESULTS: From March 2013 through October 2015, 107 participants (45 TC, 32 MI and 30 HC) were enrolled. The prevalence of preadmission anxiety disorders was 24.4% in TC, 9.4% in MI, and 0 in HC (p = 0.007) while that of mood disorders was similar across groups. TC had higher psychological distress, perceived stress, and PTSD symptoms post-discharge vs. MI and HC. In adjusted models, PTSD symptoms remained higher in TC vs. MI (b = 0.55, p < 0.05) and vs. HC (b = 0.92, p < 0.01). Optimism and hostility scores were similar across groups, while type D (social inhibition) scores were higher in TC and MI vs. HC.

CONCLUSIONS: Preadmission anxiety, but not depression, was associated with the occurrence of TC. High distress and PTSD symptoms post-discharge indicate that TC women may be at risk for poor psychological adjustment.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning In Children: Diagnosis And Management In The Emergency Department

Mon, 10/31/2016 - 12:31pm

Approximately 5000 children present to the emergency department annually with unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning. Children may be more vulnerable to carbon monoxide poisoning because of their increased metabolic demand and their inability to vocalize symptoms or recognize a dangerous exposure, and newborn infants are more vulnerable to carbon monoxide poisoning because of the persistence of fetal hemoglobin. Mild carbon monoxide poisoning may present as viral symptoms in the absence of fever. While headache, nausea, and vomiting are the most common presenting symptoms in children, the most common symptom in infants is consciousness disturbance. This review discusses the limitations of routine pulse oximetry and carboxyhemoglobin measurement in determining carbon monoxide exposure, and notes effects of co-ingestions and comorbidities. Although the mainstay of treatment is 100% oxygen, the current evidence and controversies in the use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy in pediatric patients is reviewed, along with its possible benefit in preventing delayed neurologic sequelae.

A comparison of individual- versus practice-level measures of the medical home

Mon, 10/31/2016 - 12:21pm

OBJECTIVE: To determine the association between a widely used individual-level assessment of the medical home derived from parental perception and practice-level assessment of the medical home.

METHODS: Thirty parents at each of 6 Boston-area community health centers (CHCs) were administered the 19-question medical home measure of the 2011 National Survey of Children's Health (NSCH). Each CHC was scored in accordance with the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) 2011 Patient-Centered Medical Home Standards and Guidelines. Bivariate analysis of the independent variables against the dependent variable (the NCQA measure, assessed as both a continuous score and a categorical tier) was performed. Linear and logistical regression models accounting for the cluster design were then constructed, with the NSCH measure as the primary predictor.

RESULTS: Of the 180 parents, 52% had a medical home according to the NSCH criteria. Of the 6 CHCs, 5 were a medical home according to the NCQA Standards (2 at Tier 3, 3 at Tier 2). Regression modeling demonstrated nonsignificant associations between both the continuous and categorical (tier) NCQA scores and the NSCH assessment of the medical home, with a beta of -2.80 (95% confidence interval, -7.75 to 13.35) and an adjusted odds ratio of 2.17 (95% confidence interval, 0.82 to 5.74), respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: There was no significant association between the individual-level and practice-level assessments of the medical home. Given this discrepancy, our results suggest that we may need to temper our expectations that the medical home transformation currently being implemented at the practice level will lead to the child health and health care utilization outcomes extensively demonstrated in the literature.

A novel behavioral intervention in adolescents with type 1 diabetes mellitus improves glycemic control: preliminary results from a pilot randomized control trial

Mon, 10/31/2016 - 12:21pm

PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to develop and pilot-test an innovative behavioral intervention in adolescents with type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) incorporating structured care of a pet to improve glycemic control. METHODS: Twenty-eight adolescents with A1C > 8.5% (69 mmol/mol) were randomly assigned to either the intervention group (care of a Betta splendens pet fish) or the control group (usual care). Adolescents in the intervention group were given instructions to associate daily and weekly fish care duties with diabetes self-management tasks, including blood glucose testing and parent-adolescent communication. RESULTS: After 3 months, the participants in the intervention group exhibited a statistically significant decrease in A1C level (-0.5%) compared with their peers in the control group, who had an increase in A1C level (0.8%) (P = .04). The younger adolescents (10-13 years of age) demonstrated a greater response to the intervention, which was statistically significant (-1.5% vs 0.6%, P = .04), compared with the older adolescents (14-17 years of age). CONCLUSIONS: Structured care of a pet fish can improve glycemic control in adolescents with T1DM, likely by providing cues to perform diabetes self-management behaviors.

Targeted gene delivery to the enteric nervous system using AAV: a comparison across serotypes and capsid mutants

Mon, 10/31/2016 - 12:21pm

Recombinant adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors are one of the most widely used gene transfer systems in research and clinical trials. AAV can transduce a wide range of biological tissues, however to date, there has been no investigation on targeted AAV transduction of the enteric nervous system (ENS). Here, we examined the efficiency, tropism, spread, and immunogenicity of AAV transduction in the ENS. Rats received direct injections of various AAV serotypes expressing green fluorescent protein (GFP) into the descending colon. AAV serotypes tested included; AAV 1, 2, 5, 6, 8, or 9 and the AAV2 and AAV8 capsid mutants, AAV2-Y444F, AAV2-tripleY-F, AAV2-tripleY-F+T-V, AAV8-Y733F, and AAV8-doubeY-F+T-V. Transduction, as determined by GFP-positive cells, occurred in neurons and enteric glia within the myenteric and submucosal plexuses of the ENS. AAV6 and AAV9 showed the highest levels of transduction within the ENS. Transduction efficiency scaled with titer and time, was translated to the murine ENS, and produced no vector-related immune response. A single injection of AAV into the colon covered an area of ~47 mm(2). AAV9 primarily transduced neurons, while AAV6 transduced enteric glia and neurons. This is the first report on targeted AAV transduction of neurons and glia in the ENS.

NKD2, a negative regulator of Wnt signaling, suppresses tumor growth and metastasis in osteosarcoma

Mon, 10/31/2016 - 12:21pm

Osteosarcoma (OS) is the most frequent pediatric malignant bone tumor that has a high propensity for metastases. Through osteoblast-specific alteration of p53 status, we developed a genetically engineered mouse model of localized and metastatic OS to gain an understanding into the molecular pathogenesis of OS. Microarray analysis of both localized tumors and metastatic tumors identified the downregulation of the naked cuticle homolog 2 (NKD2) gene, a negative regulator of Wnt signaling. Overexpression of NKD2 in metastatic human and mouse OS cells significantly decreases cell proliferation, migration and invasion ability in vitro and drastically diminishes OS tumor growth and metastasis in vivo, whereas downregulation enhances migratory and invasive potential. Evaluation of NKD2-overexpressing tumors revealed upregulation of tumor-suppressor genes and downregulation of molecules involved in blood vessel formation and cell migration. Furthermore, assessment of primary human OS revealed downregulation of NKD2 in metastatic and recurrent OS. Finally, we provide biological evidence that use of small-molecule inhibitors targeting the Wnt pathway can have therapeutic efficacy in decreasing metastatic properties in OS. Our studies provide compelling evidence that downregulation of NKD2 expression and alterations in associated regulated pathways have a significant role in driving OS tumor growth and metastasis.

The gastrointestinal endoscopy competency assessment tool for pediatric colonoscopy

Mon, 10/31/2016 - 12:20pm

OBJECTIVES: Validated assessment tools are required to support competency-based education. We aimed to assess the reliability and validity of the Gastrointestinal Endoscopy Competency Assessment Tool for Pediatric Colonoscopy (GiECATKIDS), an instrument developed by 41 North American experts using Delphi methodology. METHODS: GiECATKIDS consists of a 7-item global rating scale (GRS) and an 18-item checklist (CL). An attending physician assessed 104 colonoscopies performed at 3 North American hospitals by 56 endoscopists, including 25 novices (procedures), 21 intermediates (50-250), and 10 advanced endoscopists ( > 500). Another observer rated procedures to assess interrater reliability using intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC). Test-retest reliability was measured with ICC comparing endoscopists' first and second procedure scores. Discriminative validity was examined by comparing experience level with scores. Concurrent validity was assessed by correlating scores with colonoscopy experience, cecal and terminal ileal intubation rates, and physician global assessment. RESULTS: Interrater reliability of the GiECATKIDS was high (total: ICC = 0.88; GRS: ICC = 0.79; CL: ICC = 0.89). Test-retest reliability was excellent (total: ICC = 0.94; GRS: ICC = 0.94; CL: ICC = 0.84). GiECATKIDS total, GRS, and CL scores differed significantly among novice, intermediate, and advanced endoscopists (P < 0.001). There was a significant positive correlation (P < 0.001) between scores and number of previous colonoscopies (total: rho = 0.91, GRS: rho = 0.92, CL: rho = 0.84), cecal intubation rate (total: rho = 0.82, GRS: rho = 0.85, CL: rho = 0.77), ileal intubation rate (total: rho = 0.82, GRS: rho = 0.82, CL: rho = 0.80), and physician global assessment (total: rho = 0.95, GRS: rho = 0.94, CL: rho = 0.89).

CONCLUSIONS: The GiECATKIDS demonstrates strong reliability and validity as a measure of performance of pediatric colonoscopy that can be used to support training and assessment.

Use of granulocyte colony-stimulating factor during pregnancy in women with chronic neutropenia

Mon, 10/31/2016 - 12:20pm

OBJECTIVE: To report outcomes associated with the administration of granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) to women with chronic neutropenia during pregnancy. METHODS: We conducted an observational study of women of childbearing potential with congenital, cyclic, idiopathic, or autoimmune neutropenia enrolled in the Severe Chronic Neutropenia International Registry to determine outcomes of pregnancies, without and with chronic G-CSF therapy, 1999-2014. Treatment decisions were made by the patients' personal physicians. A research nurse conducted telephone interviews of all enrolled U.S. women of childbearing potential using a standard questionnaire. Comparisons used Fisher's exact test analysis and Student's t test.

RESULTS: One hundred seven women reported 224 pregnancies, 124 without G-CSF therapy and 100 on chronic G-CSF therapy (median dose 1.0 micrograms/kg per day, range 0.02-8.6 micrograms/kg per day). There were no significant differences in adverse events between the groups considering all pregnancies or individual mothers, for example, spontaneous terminations (all pregnancies: no G-CSF in 27/124, G-CSF in 13/100; P=.11, Fisher's exact test), preterm labors (all pregnancies, no G-CSF in 9/124, G-CSF in 2/100, P=.12). A study with at least 300 per group would be needed to detect a difference in these events with 80% statistical power (alpha=0.05). Four newborns of mothers with idiopathic or autoimmune neutropenia not on G-CSF (4/101) had life-threatening infections, whereas there were no similar events (0/90) in the treated group, but this difference was also not statistically significant (P=.124). Adverse events in the neonates were similar for the two groups.

CONCLUSION: This observational study showed no significant adverse effects of administration of G-CSF to women with severe chronic neutropenia during pregnancy. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: III.

Could home sexually transmitted infection specimen collection with e-prescription be a cost-effective strategy for clinical trials and clinical care

Mon, 10/31/2016 - 12:20pm

BACKGROUND: Results of a recent demonstration project evaluating feasibility, acceptability, and cost of a Web-based sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing and e-prescription treatment program (eSTI) suggest that this approach could be a feasible alternative to clinic-based testing and treatment, but the results need to be confirmed by a randomized comparative effectiveness trial.

METHODS: We modeled a decision tree comparing (1) cost of eSTI screening using a home collection kit and an e-prescription for uncomplicated treatment versus (2) hypothetical costs derived from the literature for referral to standard clinic-based STI screening and treatment. Primary outcome was number of STIs detected. Analyses were conducted from the clinical trial perspective and the health care system perspective.

RESULTS: The eSTI strategy detected 75 infections, and the clinic referral strategy detected 45 infections. Total cost of eSTI was $94,938 ($1266/STI detected) from the clinical trial perspective and $96,088 ($1281/STI detected) from the health care system perspective. Total cost of clinic referral was $87,367 ($1941/STI detected) from the clinical trial perspective and $71,668 ($1593/STI detected) from the health care system perspective.

CONCLUSIONS: Results indicate that eSTI will likely be more cost-effective (lower cost/STI detected) than clinic-based STI screening, both in the context of clinical trials and in routine clinical care. Although our results are promising, they are based on a demonstration project and estimates from other small studies. A comparative effectiveness research trial is needed to determine actual cost and impact of the eSTI system on identification and treatment of new infections and prevention of their sequelae.

The diversity of mutations and clinical outcomes for ELANE-associated neutropenia

Mon, 10/31/2016 - 12:20pm

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Mutations in the gene for neutrophil elastase, ELANE, cause cyclic neutropenia (CyN) and severe congenital neutropenia (SCN). This study summarized data from the Severe Chronic Neutropenia International Registry (SCNIR) on genotype-phenotype relationships of ELANE mutations to important clinical outcomes. We also summarize findings for ELANE mutations not observed in SCNIR patients.

RECENT FINDINGS: There were 307 SCNIR patients with 104 distinctive ELANE mutations who were followed longitudinally for up to 27 years. The ELANE mutations were diverse; there were 65 single amino acid substitutions; 61 of these mutations (94%) were 'probably' or 'possibly damaging' by PolyPhen-2 analysis, and one of the 'benign' mutations was associated with two cases of acute myeloid leukemia (AML). All frame-shift mutations (19/19) were associated with the SCN. The pattern of mutations in the SCN versus CyN was significantly different (P < 10), but some mutations were observed in both groups (overlapping mutations). The cumulative incidence of severe adverse events, that is, myelodysplasia, AML, stem cell transplantation, or deaths was significantly greater for patients with SCN versus those with CyN or overlapping mutations. Specific mutations (i.e. G214R or C151Y) had a high risk for evolution to AML.

SUMMARY: Sequencing is useful for predicting outcomes of ELANE-associated neutropenia.

Very early combination antiretroviral therapy in infants: prospects for cure

Mon, 10/31/2016 - 12:20pm

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: A single case of sustained HIV control in the absence of antiretroviral therapy or HIV-specific immune responses ensued following 18 months of combination antiretroviral therapy initiated at 30 h of age in a perinatally HIV-infected child (the Mississippi child). This case provides proof-of-concept that delay in HIV viremic rebound may ensue following very early treatment (VET) in perinatal infection, likely through marked reduction of latent replication-competent HIV reservoirs.

RECENT FINDINGS: The latent HIV reservoir remains the critical barrier to remission. Several studies indicate that the earlier effective combination antiretroviral therapy is initiated, the smaller the size of the HIV reservoir. The unique ability of perinatally infected neonates to initiate VET at the time of birth maximizes the potential benefits of limiting latent reservoir size and permitting reservoir decay, likely lengthening the duration of remission and limiting the capacity for re-establishment of viremia.

SUMMARY: This article covers the rationale and feasibility of VET to achieve sustained virologic remission in perinatal infection. Recent studies highlighting the effects of VET on biomarkers of HIV persistence in perinatal HIV infection are reviewed as well as implications and challenges for cure research in pediatric populations.

A Rare Cause of Right Lower Quadrant Pain in an 11-Year-Old Female

Mon, 10/31/2016 - 12:17pm

Case report of an 11-year-old premenarchal female with a history of constipation, sickle cell trait, and obesity who presented to the emergency department with 5 days of abdominal pain.