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News and Notes   |    
News Briefs
Psychiatric Services 2010; doi:
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A new vision for continuing education for health care professionals: A December report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) seeks to advance "the science of continuing education [CE]." The report notes "the absence of a comprehensive and well-integrated system of CE in the health professions … even as the nation spends more per capita on health care than any other country." The report offers five broad messages: there are major flaws in the way CE is conducted, financed, regulated, and evaluated; the science underpinning CE for health professionals is fragmented and underdeveloped; CE efforts should bring together health professionals from various disciplines in carefully tailored learning environments; a new and comprehensive vision of professional development is needed to replace the current culture of health care CE; and establishment of a national interprofessional CE institute holds promise as a way to foster improvements in how health professionals carry out their responsibilities. The IOM report calls on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to commission a panel to oversee the design and implementation of an independent public-private Continuing Professional Development Institute to guide efforts to improve continuing professional development. Redesigning Continuing Education in the Health Professions is available on the institute's Web site at www.iom.edu.

NAMI survey reveals gaps in understanding of depression: Americans do not believe that they know much about depression, but they are highly aware of the risks of not receiving care, according to a survey conducted for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Three responder groups were surveyed—those who did not know anyone with depression (1,015 persons), caregivers of adults with a diagnosis of depression (263 persons), and adults with the illness (513 persons). Over half (55%) of the first group reported being very or extremely satisfied with their lives overall, compared with 41% of caregivers and 27% adults with depression. In the first group, 71% said that they were not familiar with depression, but 68% knew specific consequences of not receiving treatment, including suicide. Among caregivers, 48% reported that they had a depression diagnosis, and 51% of them were receiving treatment. Nearly 60% of adults with depression reported relying on their primary care physician rather than on mental health professionals for treatment. Two-thirds (67%) said that medication was their primary treatment. Harris Interactive conducted the online survey for NAMI between September 29 and October 7, 2009. The survey was funded by AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly and Company, and Wyeth. The 79-page survey report is available at www.nami.org/depression.

Updated APA ethics guide: An new edition of Opinions of the Ethics Committee on the Principles of Medical Ethics With Annotations Especially Applicable to Psychiatry has been published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). The ninth edition of the guide, which was first published in 1979, updates the 2001 guide. The 95-page document is based on ethical questions that psychiatrists encountered in their practices and forwarded to APA's Ethics Committee. The committee's answers are suggested guidelines, not APA policies, and represent highly condensed versions of the answers provided to psychiatrists. In this edition answers have been newly categorized under 18 topics, such as boundary and dual-relationship issues, business practices, confidentiality and informed consent, duty to report, interactions with other professionals, managed care, referral practices, and research and scholarly activities. Sample questions include "Is it ethical for a psychiatrist to offer his or her professional services to a public figure based on data from the media?" and "What are the obligations and responsibilities of the executors of the estate of a deceased psychiatrist with respect to the records of former patients? Specifically, should the executor notify all persons about whom there is a medical record?" and "Is it ethical to give clergy members advice in the management of specific cases?" The guide is available online at psych.org/mainmenu/psychiatricpractice/ethics.

Updated MacArthur Depression and Primary Care Web site: The MacArthur Initiative on Depression and Primary Care has added new features to its Web site (www.depression-primarycare.org). Clinicians and organizations seeking to improve the quality of depression care rely on the site because of the extensive evidence base on which it is built. The information guide to antidepressants has been updated, and a feature called "Implementation Stories" has been added. In the stories, organizations describe how they have used materials and ideas from the MacArthur Initiative to transform practices in a sustainable way. One narrative describes work within the U.S. military to address both depression and posttraumatic stress disorder. The most commonly accessed item on the site is a tool kit, which includes extensive materials related to recognition and treatment of depression. A series of education manuals developed for use by primary care clinicians, support psychiatrists, and care managers is also available. At the heart of the site is the three-component model, a systematic approach to depression recognition and management. This team-based approach was tested in a national, multisite randomized controlled trial—RESPECT-Depression.

NIMH National Database for Autism Research: Researchers who are studying autism spectrum disorders (ASD) will soon have access to a vast range of data and research tools through the National Institute of Mental Health's (NIMH's) National Database for Autism Research (NDAR). Labs conducting ASD research use a variety of methods to describe their data, making it difficult to pool data in any meaningful way. The NDAR research portal (ndar.nih.gov/ndarpublicweb) was designed to address these differences by providing tools to define and standardize the complex data landscape that characterizes autism research. "Open access to data from many people and many studies is paramount in ASD research because of the tremendous range of symptom type and severity among those affected," said NIMH Director Thomas R. Insel, M.D. "This network of digital resources will enable the research community to more quickly solve the scientific puzzle of ASD." By spring 2010 NDAR will make data available from more than 10,000 participants enrolled in ASD research studies. Investigators will be able to enter a single query in the portal to view results across multiple data sets. NDAR eventually will link with other significant data resources, including the Autism Genetic Resource Exchange, the Interactive Autism Network, the NIMH Genetics Repository, the NIMH Transcriptional Atlas of Human Brain Development, and the Pediatric MRI Data Repository. NDAR was created through the joint efforts of NIMH, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and the Center for Information Technology.

APA's Minority Fellowships Program invites applicants: Psychiatry residents are invited to apply for the American Psychiatric Association's (APA's) Minority Fellowships Program. The program provides educational opportunities not only to residents from minority groups but also to any resident interested in providing effective service to individuals from minority groups and underserved populations. The fellowships provide funds for residents to experience a specialized educational program geared toward building leaders to improve the quality of mental health care for minority groups. Residents must be at least in postgraduate year 2 in July 2010 and remain in training during the entire academic year. The deadline for applications is January 30, 2010. Applications and more information are available at www.psych.org/resources/omna/mfp.aspx.

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