Lisa J Phillips

Victoria University Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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Publications (128)633.79 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Stress is implicated in the development and course of psychotic illness, but the factors that influence stress levels are not well understood. The aim of this study was to examine the impact of neuropsychological functioning and coping styles on perceived stress in people with first-episode psychosis (FEP) and healthy controls (HC). Thirty-four minimally treated FEP patients from the Early Psychosis Prevention and Intervention Centre, Melbourne, Australia, and 26 HC participants from a similar demographic area participated in the study. Participants completed a comprehensive neuropsychological test battery as well as the Coping Inventory for Stressful Situations (task-, emotion- and avoidance-focussed coping styles) and Perceived Stress Scale (PSS). Linear regressions were used to determine the contribution of neuropsychological functioning and coping style to perceived stress in the two groups. In the FEP group, higher levels of emotion-focussed and lower levels of task-focussed coping were associated with elevated stress. Higher premorbid IQ and working memory were also associated with higher subjective stress. In the HC group, higher levels of emotion-focussed coping, and contrary to the FEP group, lower premorbid IQ, working memory and executive functioning, were associated with increased stress. Lower intellectual functioning may provide some protection against perceived stress in FEP. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Psychiatry Research 12/2014; 226(1). DOI:10.1016/j.psychres.2014.12.032 · 2.68 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Stress and abnormal hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis functioning have been implicated in the early phase of psychosis and may partly explain reported changes in brain structure. This study used magnetic resonance imaging to investigate whether biological measures of stress were related to brain structure at baseline and to structural changes over the first 12 weeks of treatment in first episode patients (n=22) compared with matched healthy controls (n=22). At baseline, no significant group differences in biological measures of stress, cortical thickness or hippocampal volume were observed, but a significantly stronger relationship between baseline levels of cortisol and smaller white matter volumes of the cuneus and anterior cingulate was found in patients compared with controls. Over the first 12 weeks of treatment, patients showed a significant reduction in thickness of the posterior cingulate compared with controls. Patients also showed a significant positive relationship between baseline cortisol and increases in hippocampal volume over time, suggestive of brain swelling in association with psychotic exacerbation, while no such relationship was observed in controls. The current findings provide some support for the involvement of stress mechanisms in the pathophysiology of early psychosis, but the changes are subtle and warrant further investigation. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Psychiatry Research Neuroimaging 11/2014; 231(2). DOI:10.1016/j.pscychresns.2014.11.004 · 2.83 Impact Factor
  • Schizophrenia Research 04/2014; 153:S41-S42. DOI:10.1016/S0920-9964(14)70136-7 · 4.43 Impact Factor
  • Schizophrenia Research 04/2014; 153:S162-S163. DOI:10.1016/S0920-9964(14)70480-3 · 4.43 Impact Factor
  • Schizophrenia Research 04/2014; 153:S211. DOI:10.1016/S0920-9964(14)70612-7 · 4.43 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Transitions Study was designed to establish a cohort of young people (12-25 years) seeking help for mental health problems, in order to longitudinally explore and refine a clinical staging model of the development and progression of mental disorders. This paper presents the baseline demographic and clinical characteristics of the cohort, particularly the nature and severity of psychopathology. All eligible young people attending one of four headspace clinical services were invited to participate, and completed a battery of self-report and interviewer-administered measures of psychopathology and functional impairment at baseline, which will be repeated at the annual follow up. Of 1615 eligible clients, 802 young people (66% women; mean age = 18.3 years) consented to participate and completed baseline assessments (participation rate = 50%). The severity of mental health problems varied, with 51% meeting the criteria for probable caseness related to generalized anxiety, 45% presenting with moderate to severe depressive symptoms and over a third experiencing subthreshold psychotic symptomatology. Disordered eating (32%) and problematic tobacco (56%), cannabis (30%) and alcohol (38%) use also affected a significant proportion. Overall, 39% of the cohort were classed as being functionally impaired at baseline. The Transitions Study recruited a heterogeneous cohort at baseline in relation to the nature and severity of mental health problems and levels of functional impairment. The variation in clinical presentations within the cohort, from mild, through moderate to severe levels of psychopathology and impairment, increases the likelihood of the Transitions Study ultimately being able to achieve its aims of empirically testing a clinical staging model for mental disorders.
    Early Intervention in Psychiatry 03/2014; DOI:10.1111/eip.12133 · 1.74 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A shallow olfactory sulcus has been reported in schizophrenia, possibly reflecting abnormal forebrain development during early gestation. However, it remains unclear whether this anomaly exists prior to the onset of psychosis and/or differs according to illness stage. In the current study, magnetic resonance imaging was used to investigate the length and depth of the olfactory sulcus in 135 ultra high-risk (UHR) individuals [of whom 52 later developed psychosis (UHR-P) and 83 did not (UHR-NP)], 162 patients with first-episode psychosis (FEP), 89 patients with chronic schizophrenia, and 87 healthy controls. While there was no group difference in the length of the sulcus, UHR-P subjects had significantly shallower olfactory sulcus at baseline as compared with UHR-NP and control subjects. The depth of this sulcus became increasingly more superficial as one moved from UHR-P subjects to FEP patients to chronic schizophrenia patients. Finally, the depth of the olfactory sulcus in the UHR-P subjects was negatively correlated with the severity of negative symptoms. These findings suggest that the altered depth of the olfactory sulcus, which exists before psychosis onset, could be predictive of transition to psychosis, but also suggest ongoing changes of the sulcus morphology during the course of the illness.
    Schizophrenia Research 03/2014; 153(1-3). DOI:10.1016/j.schres.2014.01.041 · 4.43 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To develop and examine the feasibility of an online monitoring tool of depressive symptoms, suicidality and side effects. The online tool was developed based on guideline recommendations, and employed already validated and widely used measures. Quantitative data about its use, and qualitative information on its functionality and usefulness were collected from surveys, a focus group and individual interviews. Fifteen young people completed the tool between 1 and 12 times, and reported it was easy to use. Clinicians suggested it was too long and could be completed in the waiting room to lessen impact on session time. Overall, clients and clinicians who used the tool found it useful. Results show that an online monitoring tool is potentially useful as a systematic means for monitoring symptoms, but further research is needed including how to embed the tool within clinical practice.
    Early Intervention in Psychiatry 02/2014; 9(1). DOI:10.1111/eip.12127 · 1.74 Impact Factor
  • The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 11/2013; 74(11):1123. DOI:10.4088/JCP.13lr08602a · 5.14 Impact Factor
  • Lisa Phillips, John Gleeson, Eoin Killackey
    Clinical Psychologist 11/2013; 17(3). DOI:10.1111/cp.12026 · 0.43 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: An estimated 75% of mental disorders begin before the age of 24 and approximately 25% of 13-24-year-olds are affected by mental disorders at any one time. To better understand and ideally prevent the onset of post-pubertal mental disorders, a clinical staging model has been proposed that provides a longitudinal perspective of illness development. This heuristic model takes account of the differential effects of both genetic and environmental risk factors, as well as markers relevant to the stage of illness, course or prognosis. The aim of the Transitions Study is to test empirically the assumptions that underpin the clinical staging model. Additionally, it will permit investigation of a range of psychological, social and genetic markers in terms of their capacity to define current clinical stage or predict transition from less severe or enduring to more severe and persistent stages of mental disorder. This paper describes the study methodology, which involves a longitudinal cohort design implemented within four headspace youth mental health services in Australia. Participants are young people aged 12-25 years who have sought help at headspace and consented to complete a comprehensive assessment of clinical state and psychosocial risk factors. A total of 802 young people (66% female) completed baseline assessments. Annual follow-up assessments have commenced. The results of this study may have implications for the way mental disorders are diagnosed and treated, and progress our understanding of the pathophysiologies of complex mental disorders by identifying genetic or psychosocial markers of illness stage or progression.
    Early Intervention in Psychiatry 07/2013; DOI:10.1111/eip.12079 · 1.74 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Grey matter volume and cortical thickness represent two complementary aspects of brain structure. Several studies have described reductions in grey matter volume in people at ultra-high risk (UHR) of psychosis; however, little is known about cortical thickness in this group. The aim of the present study was to investigate cortical thickness alterations in UHR subjects and compare individuals who subsequently did and did not develop psychosis. Method We examined magnetic resonance imaging data collected at four different scanning sites. The UHR subjects were followed up for at least 2 years. Subsequent to scanning, 50 UHR subjects developed psychosis and 117 did not. Cortical thickness was examined in regions previously identified as sites of neuroanatomical alterations in UHR subjects, using voxel-based cortical thickness. RESULTS: At baseline UHR subjects, compared with controls, showed reduced cortical thickness in the right parahippocampal gyrus (p < 0.05, familywise error corrected). There were no significant differences in cortical thickness between the UHR subjects who later developed psychosis and those who did not. CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest that UHR symptomatology is characterized by alterations in the thickness of the medial temporal cortex. We did not find evidence that the later progression to psychosis was linked to additional alterations in cortical thickness, although we cannot exclude the possibility that the study lacked sufficient power to detect such differences.
    Psychological Medicine 05/2013; 44(3):1-10. DOI:10.1017/S0033291713000998 · 5.43 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVE: The ultra-high risk clinical phenotype is associated with substantial distress and functional impairment and confers a greatly enhanced risk for transition to full-threshold psychosis. A range of interventions aimed at relieving current symptoms and functional impairment and reducing the risk of transition to psychosis has shown promising results, but the optimal type and sequence of intervention remain to be established. The aim of this study was to determine which intervention was most effective at preventing transition to psychosis: cognitive therapy plus low-dose risperidone, cognitive therapy plus placebo, or supportive therapy plus placebo. METHOD: A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled 12-month trial of low-dose risperidone, cognitive therapy, or supportive therapy was conducted in a cohort of 115 clients of the Personal Assessment and Crisis Evaluation Clinic, a specialized service for young people at ultra-high risk of psychosis located in Melbourne, Australia. Recruitment commenced in August 2000 and ended in May 2006. The primary outcome measure was transition to full-threshold psychosis, defined a priori as frank psychotic symptoms occurring at least daily for 1 week or more and assessed using the Comprehensive Assessment of At-Risk Mental States. Secondary outcome measures were psychiatric symptoms, psychosocial functioning, and quality of life. RESULTS: The estimated 12-month transition rates were as follows: cognitive therapy + risperidone, 10.7%; cognitive therapy + placebo, 9.6%; and supportive therapy + placebo, 21.8%. While there were no statistically significant differences between the 3 groups in transition rates (log-rank test P = .60), all 3 groups improved substantially during the trial, particularly in terms of negative symptoms and overall functioning. CONCLUSIONS: The lower than expected, essentially equivalent transition rates in all 3 groups fail to provide support for the first-line use of antipsychotic medications in patients at ultra-high risk of psychosis, and an initial approach with supportive therapy is likely to be effective and carries fewer risks.
    The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 04/2013; 74(4):349. DOI:10.4088/JCP.12m07785 · 5.14 Impact Factor
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    M T Nelson, M L Seal, C Pantelis, L J Phillips
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    ABSTRACT: The personality dimension of schizotypy is well established, and schizotypal traits can be taken to represent a proneness toward developing psychosis. Yet, there are competing theories about the latent structure of schizotypy. More specifically, there is controversy over the extent to which this propensity towards psychosis is present only in a small proportion of the population, or whether it is spread dimensionally throughout the general community. On the basis of accumulating research findings the present article argues for a fully dimensional model of schizotypy. It describes recent neurobiological, neuropsychological, social and environmental evidence supporting the idea that schizotypy in healthy populations, and disorders on the schizophrenia spectrum are fundamentally linked. Directions for further research are also considered.
    Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews 01/2013; 37(3). DOI:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2013.01.004 · 10.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: PURPOSE: Vocational recovery is a primary treatment goal of young people with first-episode psychosis (FEP), yet treatment in this domain is often delayed due to concerns that it might be too stressful. This study aimed to examine whether a relationship exists between vocational status and level of perceived stress and daily hassles in FEP. METHODS: Forty-seven FEP participants were recruited upon admission to the Early Psychosis Prevention and Intervention Centre (EPPIC), Melbourne. Demographics, psychopathology, perceived stress (Perceived Stress Scale; PSS) and daily hassles (Hassles Scale; HS) were measured. RESULTS: Regarding vocational status, 19 participants were unemployed, 13 were employed, 14 were students, and 1 reported 'home duties'. ANOVAs and post hoc tests comparing the first three groups on perceived stress and daily hassles revealed that the mean PSS Total and mean PSS Distress scores of the employed group were significantly lower than those of the unemployed and student groups. Regarding hassles scores, the employed group had a significantly lower mean Hassles Intensity score than the unemployed group. Results were largely unchanged when covariates were included. There were no significant differences between the three groups in levels of anxiety, negative or positive symptoms. The employed group reported lower depression than the student group, but this finding disappeared after controlling for gender. CONCLUSIONS: These results provide preliminary evidence supporting the notion that working or studying is not associated with increased perceived stress or daily hassles in FEP. The findings require replication in larger samples and in different phases of psychosis.
    Social Psychiatry 11/2012; 48(7). DOI:10.1007/s00127-012-0627-1 · 2.58 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Objective:Impaired regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and hyper-activity of this system have been described in patients with psychosis. Conversely, some psychiatric disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are characterised by HPA hypo-activity, which could be related to prior exposure to trauma. This study examined the cortisol response to the administration of low-dose dexamethasone in first-episode psychosis (FEP) patients and its relationship to childhood trauma.Method:The low-dose (0.25 mg) Dexamethasone Suppression Test (DST) was performed in 21 neuroleptic-naïve or minimally treated FEP patients and 20 healthy control participants. Childhood traumatic events were assessed in all participants using the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ) and psychiatric symptoms were assessed in patients using standard rating scales.Results:FEP patients reported significantly higher rates of childhood trauma compared to controls (p = 0.001) and exhibited lower basal (a.m.) cortisol (p = 0.04) and an increased rate of cortisol hyper-suppression following dexamethasone administration compared to controls (33% (7/21) vs 5% (1/20), respectively; p = 0.04). There were no significant group differences in mean cortisol decline or percent cortisol suppression following the 0.25 mg DST. This study shows for the first time that a subset of patients experiencing their first episode of psychosis display enhanced cortisol suppression.Conclusions:These findings suggest there may be distinct profiles of HPA axis dysfunction in psychosis which should be further explored.
    Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 11/2012; 47(4). DOI:10.1177/0004867412465125 · 3.77 Impact Factor
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    Neil Thomas, Darryl Ribaux, Lisa J Phillips
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Depressive symptoms are common in schizophrenia. Previous studies have observed that depressive symptoms are associated with both insight and negative appraisals of illness, suggesting that the way in which the person thinks about their illness may influence the occurrence of depressive responses. In affective disorders, one of the most well-established cognitive processes associated with depressive symptoms is rumination, a pattern of perseverative, self-focused negative thinking. Aims: This study examined whether rumination focused on mental illness was predictive of depressive symptoms during the subacute phase of schizophrenia. Method: Forty participants with a diagnosis of schizophrenia and in a stable phase of illness completed measures of rumination, depressive symptoms, awareness of illness, and positive and negative symptoms. Results: Depressive symptoms were correlated with rumination, including when controlling for positive and negative symptoms. The content of rumination frequently focused on mental illness and its causes and consequences, in particular social disability and disadvantage. Depressive symptoms were predicted by awareness of the social consequences of mental illness, an effect that was mediated by rumination. Conclusions: Results suggest that a process of perseveratively dwelling upon mental illness and its social consequences may be a factor contributing to depressive symptoms in people with chronic schizophrenia.
    Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy 11/2012; 42(2):1-13. DOI:10.1017/S1352465812000884 · 1.69 Impact Factor
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  • Schizophrenia Research 04/2012; 136:S17–S18. DOI:10.1016/S0920-9964(12)70059-2 · 4.43 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: It has been suggested that some cases of schizophrenia may be caused by an interaction between physiological risk factors and exposure to certain neurotropic infectious agents such as Herpes Simplex Virus type 1 (HSV1). This study investigated whether HSV1 exposure was associated with structural brain abnormalities in individuals who, because of genetic or other factors, were deemed at ultra high risk (UHR) of developing psychosis. Twenty-five UHR individuals with a history of HSV1 exposure (HSV1+), 33 UHR participants without a history of HSV1 exposure (HSV1-) and 19 healthy controls participated in the study. All participants underwent a T1-weighted structural MRI scan, and HSV1 exposure was determined based on the presence of IgG class antibodies in the blood serum. Voxel based morphometry revealed that the HSV1+ participants exhibited volumetric gray matter reductions in the cuneus, relative to both the HSV1--and healthy control participants (p<0.05, small volume corrected for familywise error). The results of the study suggest that a history of HSV1 infection is associated with volumetric gray matter reductions in individuals at ultra-high risk for developing psychosis, and are consistent with previous studies that have identified structural gray matter abnormalities in HSV1-infected patients with established schizophrenia.
    Schizophrenia Research 03/2012; 135(1-3):175-80. DOI:10.1016/j.schres.2011.11.003 · 4.43 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

8k Citations
633.79 Total Impact Points


  • 2007–2014
    • Victoria University Melbourne
      Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  • 2000–2014
    • University of Melbourne
      • • Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences
      • • Department of Psychiatry
      Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  • 2012
    • Orygen Youth Health
      Parkerville, Western Australia, Australia
  • 2010
    • University of Toyama
      • Department of Neuropsychiatry
      Тояма, Toyama, Japan
  • 2005–2008
    • Royal Melbourne Hospital
      • Department of Radiology
      Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
    • University of Cologne
      • Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy
      Köln, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
  • 2004
    • King's College London
      • Department of Psychological Medicine
      London, ENG, United Kingdom