May 1st, 2010

Sex addiction: bona fide condition or excuse for bad behavior?

By Ami Albernaz

It’s often helpful to have a celebrity spokesperson for a disorder: Doug Flutie for autism; Patty Duke for bipolar disorder. Yet when it comes to sex addiction, the star connection may hurt. Who wouldn’t be a sex addict, some may argue, given money, power and unlimited access to beautiful women? Some psychologists argue the condition is indeed real and that the recent spate of celebrity “sex addicts” are clouding what’s in fact a very painful reality for some. “You see these very rich, very handsome superstars and your perceptions of them are that they’re on top of the world,” says [More]

May 1st, 2010

The changing role of the hospital-based psychologist

By Phyllis Hanlon

While incidence of mental health-related hospitalizations hasn’t diminished, the model of inpatient care is shifting. Shrinking budgets, bed elimination and community-based care is creating a new treatment paradigm and changing the role of some psychologists who work in hospitals. In March, Eastern Maine Medical Center (EMMC) in Bangor laid off approximately 50 full and part-time staff because of financial issues and declining patient census. The cuts did not involve psychologists, according to Jill McDonald, B.S., MA, APR, EMMC’s vice president of communication and market development. “We do have a few psychologists on staff at EMMC in some outpatient capacity, but [More]

May 1st, 2010

Children’s groups part ways in philosophical rift

By Nan Shnitzler

The Harvard-affiliated Judge Baker Children’s Center and the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood have parted ways in a Rashomon-like saga that has left members of both organizations angry and hurt. Judge Baker says the aggressive tactics of CCFC are beyond its core mission and put its other programs at risk. CCFC thinks Judge Baker is reluctant to stand up to corporate interests that risk the health and well being of children. CCFC’s view According to Alvin Poussaint, M.D., head of Judge Baker’s Media Center, under which CCFC had operated since its inception 10 years ago, the trouble began in October [More]

May 1st, 2010

Program gives chance at healthy life

By Jennifer E Chase

Acadia Hospital in Maine is improving the odds for people who may develop psychosis through a program wholly dedicated to early detection. The Aware program’s mission is to research, educate and provide community outreach about the symptoms indicating that a person is at “ultra-high” risk, or prodrome, to develop a psychotic illness. Common diagnoses the program helps identify are schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and schizoaffective disorder. According to the program’s director and lead investigator Jessica Pollard, Ph.D., a specialized assessment called the Structured Interview for Prodromal Syndromes (SIPS) is used to detect the warning signs, which include deficits with executive function, [More]

May 1st, 2010

VSH denied recertification – again

By Phyllis Hanlon

Since 2003, Vermont State Hospital (VSH) has lost, regained and once again lost its certification. In March, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) denied VSH’s bid for recertification yet again because of patient care issues and safety concerns about the aging facility’s physical environment. State Rep. Anne Donahue (R-Washington-2) says, “First, an interesting aspect is that CMS has become more clear in the past year that they are not considering recertification; they are treating [the hospital] as though it is a new entity seeking certification. This is important because it creates a different standard than simply remedying the [More]

May 1st, 2010

New scale created to measure anxiety

By Elinor Nelson

There is no shortage of self-report questionnaires to measure anxiety, but Mark Zimmerman, M.D. and his colleagues at Rhode Island Hospital and Alpert Medical School of Brown University have developed a new one – the Clinically Useful Anxiety Outcome Scale (CUXOS). What distinguishes CUXOS, Zimmerman states, is its “goal to be user-friendly, reliable, and valid.” His study of CUXOS, which was published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, found it to take on average less than two minutes to fill out and just 15 seconds to score. The study also showed CUXOS to be reliable, valid and sensitive to change [More]

May 1st, 2010

Psych hospital limitations under Medicare to be eliminated

By Phyllis Hanlon

The passage of the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 has paved the way for other types of reform related to behavioral health care. Four New England senators are continuing the fight against discrimination as it relates to seniors who suffer mental health issues. On February 24, Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) filed the Medicare Mental Health Inpatient Equity Act (S.3028), a bill that would eliminate the 190-day limit for Medicare recipients who obtain care in a psychiatric healthcare facility. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.) co-sponsored the [More]

May 1st, 2010

Manual changes provoke debate

By Ami Albernaz

For the past few years, proposed revisions to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) have been scrutinized and their merits debated by mental health professionals. Changes in the new manual, due out in May 2013 and meant to reflect new information in neurology, genetics and the behavioral sciences, will likely include new diagnoses such as binge eating disorder and hypersexual disorder and a new category for “behavioral addictions.” Among the most discussed changes to date include folding Asperger’s syndrome into a category called autism spectrum disorder and adding a diagnosis of temper dysregulation disorder with dysphoria, in [More]

May 1st, 2010

Networking sites raise ethical questions

By Pamela Berard

Social networking Web sites like Facebook are ubiquitous especially among younger generations who’ve grown up with technology. But with these sites, medical professionals face many potential ethical questions about doctor-patient relationships. David H. Brendel, M.D., Ph.D, chair of Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital’s Institutional Review Board in Massachusetts, recently addressed these issues in a Journal of Medical Ethics article. Does “friending” violate doctor-patient confidentiality? Should physicians, psychologists and other professionals include information from these sites in a patient’s medical record? Might accepting or rejecting an online friendship with a patient compromise treatment? And can a professional disclose too much personal information online? [More]

May 1st, 2010

Non-profit group shares terrorism research

By Catherine Robertson Souter

When a former student pitched the idea of a non-profit organization to promote the interdisciplinary and international sharing of terrorism research, Tali K. Walters, Ph.D., had one of those moments. The forensic psychologist, working in private practice and with the Lindemann Mental Health Center in Boston and as an assistant professor of psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine, had been looking for a way to “give back,” a way to do meaningful volunteer work. Although she had not considered terrorism research, it seemed like the perfect opportunity. Now, four years after its launch, the Society for Terrorism Research (STR) [More]

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