Kinship care may be a viable out-of-home placement option for maltreated children, but more research is needed

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Lisa Burscheidt reports on a recent Cochrane review that looks at the effects of kinship care versus traditional foster care for the safety, permanency and well-being of children removed from the home for maltreatment.

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How does buprenorphine fair as an alternative to methadone for treating opioid dependence?

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Meg Fluharty summarises a recent Cochrane review, which tells us that high-dose buprenorphine is an effective maintenance treatment for heroin compared to placebo, but fixed flexible-dosing methadone is superior to buprenorphine at participant retention.

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We don’t know if general health advice improves physical health for patients with serious mental illness

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For me, one of the most infuriating aspects of health care is the relegation of mental health problems, and mental health services, as secondary to physical health. There are a myriad of examples of this, from the classic stigma that people with mental health problems receive compared to those with physical health problems (fantastically illustrated [read the full story...]

Spoilt for choice? Four new Cochrane reviews on antipsychotics for schizophrenia

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Schizophrenia is a crippling condition characterised by psychotic experiences such as delusions and hallucinations. It can be hugely debilitating for the patient and their family and it can also be an enormous challenge for psychiatrists and other health and social care professionals who are responsible for providing care and support to the service user. Currently, [read the full story...]

Cochrane review finds no good quality evidence for common medicines used to treat sleep problems in Alzheimer’s Disease

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People with dementia caused by Alzheimer’s Disease (ADD) (which is estimated to be around three quarters of people with dementia) often suffer from sleep disturbances.  These symptoms cause distress to the person with dementia and to their carers, increase the likelihood of admission to a care home, and are also very difficult for care home [read the full story...]

Psychological treatment may be useful in reducing depression and anxiety in people with dementia, says new Cochrane review

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Depression and anxiety are both common conditions in patients with dementia and mild cognitive impairment (MCI), with some studies finding around 30% of patients show at least some depressive symptoms (Enache et al, 2011). Similarly, a study on vascular dementia found around 70% of participants had two or more symptoms of anxiety (Ballard et al, 2000). [read the full story...]

Cochrane review finds that acupuncture, acupressure, laser therapy and electrostimulation show little benefit for smoking cessation

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Despite being on the decline, smoking is still one of the largest causes of preventable morbidity and mortality in the world. According to recent World Health Organisation data, smoking directly kills around 5 million people every year.  The NHS spends almost £90 million on cessation efforts to combat the £5 billion treatment cost. Recent research [read the full story...]

Does staying in hospital longer make you better?

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De-institutionalisation, the advent of community care and development of psychotropic medicines are implicated in the reduction in hospital bed numbers and mean length of stay. There remains a huge variance in length of stay and outcomes across the UK and beyond (NHS Confederation, 2011). Figures on length of stay and service configuration are difficult to [read the full story...]

What impact do guidelines actually have on patient outcomes for people with schizophrenia?

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Using research findings to improve care in mental health should be easy. Notice an understudied area, do a study on it, write a guideline based on your results and watch mental health professionals modify their practice accordingly. Hooray for science. But in reality, this process is convoluted and murky. Though we’re fairly good at churning out [read the full story...]

Interventions for drug using offenders: What works in reducing drug use and criminal activity?

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It is estimated that between 10% (Gunn 1991) and 39% (Brooke 1996) of prisoners in the UK are dependent on illicit drugs; and that 14.5% of male and 31% of female prisoners have serious mental health problems (Steadman 2009). Drug use can be associated with many health, social and criminological consequences; and when mental health [read the full story...]