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Recent research: fish and n-3 fatty acids

Fish, fish oils, and n-3 fatty acids are often in the health news.  Here are seven recent papers illustrating the breadth of fish oil relevance.  The papers look at treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, the potential of flax as a dietary source of n-3 fatty acids, effects on indicators of cardiovascular disease, potential protection against dementia, reduction in mortality, and importance in pregnancy.  The papers also illustrate the patchwork, three steps forward/one step back, meandering, spreading, accretion of scientific knowledge.  As the proverb goes "One swallow doesn't make a summer".  Similarly, a single research study is usually simply one brick in the gradual building of our knowledge.  For more on fish and n-3 fatty acids, see other relevant blog posts I've written, articles in the linked Connotea database, and some recommended websites.     

Recent research: mothers, children & depression

Here are five recent papers on mothers, families, children and depression.  The first is a freely viewable editorial by Markowitz which begins with a quote from the Aeneid "I cannot bear a mother's tears".  Markowitz looks at evidence demonstrating the importance of both nature (genetic risk) and nurture (effects of the mother-child relationship and other environmental factors) on psychological outcomes.  The second paper is a good overview of postnatal depression by Musters et al.  Unfortunately the full text is only viewable if you are a BMJ subscriber or if you pay for the article (or contact the authors).  The third study looks at the benefits for children of effective treatment for maternal depression.  The fourth paper - a freely viewable editorial by Reiss - looks both at the effects of maternal depression on children and the effects of children's psychological symptoms on mothers.  The fifth study is unusual and interesting as it compares the effects of parental depression on both nonadopted and on adopted children.

Markowitz, J. C. (2008). "Depressed Mothers, Depressed Children." Am J Psychiatry 165(9): 1086-1088. [Free Full Text]

Handouts & questionnaires for “outcomes toolkit” (IAPT)

The "Improving Access to Psychological Therapies" (IAPT) initiative is very ambitious and exciting.  It states its principal aim is to support English Primary Care Trusts in implementing "National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence" (NICE) guidelines for people suffering from depression and anxiety disorders.  IAPT go on to say that "At present, only a quarter of the 6 million people in the UK with these conditions are in treatment, with debilitating effects on society."

One aspect of this carefully planned initiative is strong encouragement to assess and monitor the progress of those who are getting help.  Visiting the IAPT "Outcomes Toolkit and FAQ" web page provides access to several freely downloadable documents.  The emphasis is on good assessment measures that are free to use.  See below:

IAPT Outcomes Toolkit 2008/9 PDF - this 81 page 1.1Mb Adobe PDF is the September 08 version with amended IAPT Paper Based Data Set Questionnaires.

Draft SIGN non-pharmacological depression treatments guideline, 7th post: effectiveness of psychological therapies 2

This is the 7th blog post in a series reviewing the recent Scottish Intercollegiate Guideline Network's (SIGN) draft guideline for "Non-pharmacological management of depression".  I gave more background details in the first post of the series.  This post covers the third session of the guideline presentation seminar.  The session was entitled "Effectiveness of psychological therapies in depression 2" and there were three speakers.  Professor Kevin Power, Area Head of Psychological Therapies, NHS Tayside, talked about "Counselling, marital, family and reminiscence therapy".  Kevin said there were comparatively few good randomized controlled trials on counselling interventions specifically for patients diagnosed with major depressive disorder.  SIGN gave a Grade

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