Quality assessment of observational studies in psychiatry: an example from perinatal psychiatric research.
ABSTRACT In perinatal psychiatry, randomized controlled trials are often not feasible on ethical grounds. Many studies are observational in nature, while others employ large databases not designed primarily for research purposes. Quality assessment of the resulting research is complicated by a lack of standardized tools specifically for this purpose. The aim of this paper is to describe the Systematic Assessment of Quality in Observational Research (SAQOR), a quality assessment tool our team devised for a series of systematic reviews and meta-analyses of evidence-based literature regarding risks and benefits of antidepressant medication during pregnancy.
- SourceAvailable from: Brandon A Kohrt[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Aims and scope: This article reviews the available quantitative research on psychosocial adjustment and mental health among children (age <18 years) associated with armed forces and armed groups (CAAFAG) - commonly referred to as child soldiers. Methods: PRISMA standards for systematic reviews were used to search PubMed, PsycInfo, JSTOR, and Sociological Abstracts in February 2012 for all articles on former child soldiers and CAAFAG. Twenty-one quantitative studies from 10 countries were analyzed for author, year of publication, journal, objectives, design, selection population, setting, instruments, prevalence estimates, and associations with war experiences. Opinion pieces, editorials, and qualitative studies were deemed beyond the scope of this study. Quality of evidence was rated according to the Systematic Assessment of Quality in Observational Research (SAQOR). Findings: According to SAQOR criteria, among the available published studies, eight studies were of high quality, four were of moderate quality, and the remaining nine were of low quality. Common limitations were lack of validated mental health measures, unclear methodology including undefined sampling approaches, and failure to report missing data. Only five studies included a comparison group of youth not involved with armed forces/armed groups, and only five studies assessed mental health at more than one point in time. Across studies, a number of risk and protective factors were associated with postconflict psychosocial adjustment and social reintegration in CAAFAG. Abduction, age of conscription, exposure to violence, gender, and community stigma were associated with increased internalizing and externalizing mental health problems. Family acceptance, social support, and educational/economic opportunities were associated with improved psychosocial adjustment. Conclusions: Research on the social reintegration and psychosocial adjustment of former child soldiers is nascent. A number of gaps in the available literature warrant future study. Recommendations to bolster the evidence base on psychosocial adjustment in former child soldiers and other war-affected youth include more studies comprising longitudinal study designs, and validated cross-cultural instruments for assessing mental health, as well as more integrated community-based approaches to study design and research monitoring.Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 10/2012; 54(1). DOI:10.1111/j.1469-7610.2012.02620.x · 5.67 Impact Factor
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVE: Women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) demonstrate an increased prevalence of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors. Previous researchers have compared flow-mediated dilation (FMD), an early marker of CVD, in women with and without PCOS. Evidence for a PCOS-mediated reduction in FMD remains equivocal, potentially due to study-differences in cohort-matching and measurement approaches. The aims of this systematic review and meta-analysis were to examine to what extent FMD is impaired in PCOS and to explore the influence of potential moderators of FMD reduction, such as age and BMI. DESIGN: A systematic review and meta-analysis of published observational studies comparing FMD in PCOS with control women. PATIENTS: Twenty-one published studies were included (PCOS n=908; controls n=566). A sub-analysis, using tighter inclusion criteria, involved 7 studies (PCOS n=402; control n=251). MEASUREMENTS: Mean differences in FMD between PCOS and controls were synthesised. The sub-analysis was delimited to the inclusion of age and BMI matched controls. These factors were then explored as moderators using meta-regression RESULTS: The pooled mean FMD was 3.4% (95% CI=1.9, 4.9) lower in PCOS compared with control women, with substantial heterogeneity between studies. In the sub-analysis, the PCOS-mediated reduction in FMD was 4.1% (95% CI=2.7, 5.5). Heterogeneity remained substantial (I(2) =81%). Subsequent meta-regression indicated that the magnitude of FMD difference was not influenced by BMI (P=0.17) nor age (P=0.38). CONCLUSIONS: This systematic research synthesis indicates that endothelial function is compromised in PCOS women, even if they are young and non-obese. © 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.Clinical Endocrinology 07/2012; 78(3). DOI:10.1111/j.1365-2265.2012.04490.x · 3.35 Impact Factor
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Background: To date, research on mental health in HIV- affected children (children who have an HIV-positive caregiver or live with the virus themselves) has focused on risk factors associated with the disease. However, simultaneous identification of factors that contribute to resilience in the face of risks is also needed. A greater understanding of modifiable protective processes that contribute to resilience in the mental health of children affected by HIV can inform the design of interventions that bolster naturally occurring supports and contribute to early prevention or better management of risks. Methods: We reviewed the recent literature on mental health and resilience in children and adolescents affected by HIV/AIDS. Literature searches of PsycInfo and PubMed were conducted during July-December 2011 consistent with Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) standards. Qualitative and quantitative studies were included for review if primary research questions pertained to mental health and coping or protective processes in children and families affected by HIV/AIDS. All studies subject to full review were evaluated for quality using a modified Systematic Assessment of Quality in Observational Research (SAQOR) rating system. Results: One hundred and seventy one unique studies were returned from online searches of the literature and bibliography mining. Of these, 29 were evaluated as pertaining directly to mental health and resilience in families and children living with HIV/AIDS. Eight studies presented qualitative analyses. Ten quantitative studies examined individual resources contributing to child resilience and four quantitative studies looked at family-level resources. Ten studies also investigated community level interactions. Four presented findings from resilience-focused interventions. Conclusions: There is a clear need for rigorous research on mental health and resilience in HIV-affected children and adolescents. The evidence base would greatly benefit from more standardized and robust approaches to thinking about resilience from an ecological perspective inclusive of resources at multiple levels and their interactions.Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 09/2012; 54(4). DOI:10.1111/j.1469-7610.2012.02613.x · 5.67 Impact Factor