Alessandra Canuto

Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt, Celovec, Carinthia, Austria

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Publications (38)129.08 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Prevalence findings for the elderly are artificially low, most likely due to insufficient consideration of age-related cognitive abilities in diagnostic interviews.Aims: (1) To describe the rationale for the development of an age-adapted Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI65+) for use in a European project (MentDis_ICF65+). (2) To examine its test–retest reliability.Methods: Based on substantive pilot work the CIDI standard questions were shortened, broken down into shorter subsets and combined with sensitization questions and dimensional measures. Test–retest was determined in N = 68 subjects aged 60–79 years via two independent examinations by clinical interviewers using kappa (sensitivity, specificity) for categorical and intraclass correlation (ICC) coefficients for dimensional measures.Results: Test–retest reliability was good for any mental disorder (κ = 0.63), major depression (κ = 0.55), anxiety (κ = 0.62, range = 0.30–0.78), substance (κ = 0.77, range = 0.71–0.82), obsessive-compulsive disorder (κ = 1.00) and most core symptoms/syndromes (κ range = 0.48–1.00). Agreement for some disorders (i.e. somatoform/pain) attenuated, partly due to time lapse effects. ICC for age of onset, recency, quantity, frequency and duration questions ranged between κ = 0.60–0.90. Dimensional agreement measures were not consistently higher.Conclusion: The age-adapted CIDI65+ is reliable for assessing most mental disorders, distress, impairment and time-related information in the elderly, prompting the need to examine validity. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
    International Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research. 10/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Objectives: Beyond its well-documented association with depressive symptoms across the lifespan, at an individual level, quality of life may be determined by multiple factors: psychosocial characteristics, current physical health and long-term personality traits. Method: Quality of life was assessed in two distinct community-based age groups (89 young adults aged 36.2 ± 6.3 and 92 older adults aged 70.4 ± 5.5 years), each group equally including adults with and without acute depressive symptoms. Regression models were applied to explore the association between quality of life assessed with the World Health Organization Quality of Life - Bref (WHOQOL-Bref) and depression severity, education, social support, physical illness, as well as personality dimensions as defined by the Five-Factor Model. Results: In young age, higher quality of life was uniquely associated with lower severity of depressive symptoms. In contrast, in old age, higher quality of life was related to both lower levels of depressive mood and of physical illness. In this age group, a positive association was also found between quality of life and higher levels of Openness to experience and Agreeableness personality dimensions. Conclusion: Our data indicated that, in contrast to young cohorts, where acute depression is the main determinant of poor quality of life, physical illness and personality dimensions represent additional independent predictors of this variable in old age. This observation points to the need for concomitant consideration of physical and psychological determinants of quality of life in old age.
    Aging and Mental Health 06/2014; · 1.68 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The period of mourning after perinatal loss is not synonym for depression. The article illustrates a way of caring for bereaved parents, which takes into account the temporality and individual nature of the bereavement process. The use of rituals and symbolic gestures allows for calling into existence the loss of a human being, who is gone without leaving many reminders. Psychotherapeutic care by the liaison-psychiatric service is part of the multidisciplinary care program proposed by the maternity of the University Hospitals of Geneva. These encounters offer parents the possibility to continue to include the dead in the membership of our lives.
    Revue médicale suisse 02/2014; 10(417):390-2.
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    ABSTRACT: Sandplay therapy is a technique conceived by Dora Kalff and inspired by the analytical psychology of C.G.Jung. This psychotherapeutic approach is used in a treatment program for eating disorders (ESCAL) offered by the University Hospitals of Geneva. Sandplay offers patients the possibility to express their emotions by a creative mean and facilitates the verbal expression of their personal life history within a protected setting, individual or in groups. Sandplay gives access to psychotherapeutic processes by a creative and playful approach. This article describes the technique, illustrated by a clinical case history.
    Revue médicale suisse 02/2014; 10(417):385-8.
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    ABSTRACT: The occurrence of depression in younger adults is related to the combination of long-standing factors such as personality traits (neuroticism) and more acute factors such as the subjective impact of stressful life events. Whether an increase in physical illnesses changes these associations in old age depression remains a matter of debate. We compared 79 outpatients with major depression and 102 never-depressed controls; subjects included both young (mean age: 35 years) and older (mean age: 70 years) adults. Assessments included the Social Readjustment Rating Scale, NEO Personality Inventory and Cumulative Illness Rating Scale. Logistic regression models analyzed the association between depression and subjective impact of stressful life events while controlling for neuroticism and physical illness. Patients and controls experienced the same number of stressful life events in the past 12 months. However, in contrast to the controls, patients associated the events with a subjective negative emotional impact. Negative stress impact and levels of neuroticism, but not physical illness, significantly predicted depression in young age. In old age, negative stress impact was weakly associated with depression. In this age group, depressive illness was also determined by physical illness burden and neuroticism. Our data suggest that the subjective impact of life stressors, although rated as of the same magnitude, plays a less important role in accounting for depression in older age compared to young age. They also indicate an increasing weight of physical illness burden in the prediction of depression occurrence in old age.
    Psychogeriatrics 12/2013; 13(4):221-8. · 1.26 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: The EU currently lacks reliable data on the prevalence and incidence of mental disorders in older people. Despite the availability of several national and international epidemiological studies, the size and burden of mental disorders in the elderly remain unclear due to various reasons. Therefore, the aims of the MentDis_ICF65+ study are (1) to adapt existing assessment instruments, and (2) to collect data on the prevalence, the incidence, and the natural course and prognosis of mental disorders in the elderly.Method/design: Using a cross-sectional and prospective longitudinal design, this multi-centre study from six European countries and associated states (Germany, Great Britain, Israel, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland) is based on age-stratified, random samples of elderly people living in the community. The study program consists of three phases: (1) a methodological phase devoted primarily to the adaptation of age- and gender-specific assessment tools for older people (e.g., the Composite International Diagnostic Interview, CIDI) as well as psychometric evaluations including translation, back translation; (2) a baseline community study in all participating countries to assess the lifetime, 12 month and 1 month prevalence and comorbidity of mental disorders, including prior course, quality of life, health care utilization and helpseeking, impairments and participation and, (3) a 12 month follow-up of all baseline participants to monitor course and outcome as well as examine predictors. DISCUSSION: The study is an essential step forward towards the further development and improvement of harmonised instruments for the assessment of mental disorders as well as the evaluation of activity impairment and participation in older adults. This study will also facilitate the comparison of cross-cultural results. These results will have bearing on mental health care in the EU and will offer a starting point for necessary structural changes to be initiated for mental health care policy at the level of mental health care politics.
    BMC Psychiatry 02/2013; 13(1):62. · 2.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Pregnancy and new motherhood may be crisis and vulnerability periods and therefore increase the risk of psychiatric disorders. Liaison psychiatry plays a major role in the first psychiatric evaluation of mothers in order to specify a diagnosis and to initiate a treatment when necessary. This article describes the care of mothers suffering from peripartum psychiatric disorders by the liaison psychiatry in the maternity ward, an outpatient practice, as well as an in-patient care unit where mother and baby can stay together. The multidisciplinary approach and its constellation around the mother-baby dyad are detailed and two clinical cases are reported.
    Revue médicale suisse 02/2013; 9(373):356-9.
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    ABSTRACT: ABSTRACT Background: We currently use the depression subscale (HADD) of the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) for depression screening in elderly inpatients. Given recent concerns about the performance of the HADD in this age group, we performed a quality-control study retrospectively comparing HADD with the diagnosis of depression by a psychiatrist. We also studied the effect of dementia on the scale's performance. Methods: HADS produces two 7-item subscales assessing depression or anxiety. The HADD was administered by a neuropsychologist. As "gold standard" we considered the psychiatrist's diagnosis based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, criteria. Patients older than 65 years, assessed by both the HADD and the psychiatrist, with a clinical dementia rating (CDR) score lower than 3, were included. The effect of dementia was assessed by forming three groups according to the CDR score (CDR0-0.5, CDR1, and CDR2). Simple and multiple logistic regression models were applied to predict the psychiatrist's depression diagnosis from HADD scores. Areas under the receiver operating characteristics curve (AUC) were plotted and compared by χ2 tests. Results: On both univariate and multiple analyses, HADD predicted depression diagnosis but performed poorly (univariate: p = 0.009, AUC = 0.60 (95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.53-0.66); multiple: p = 0.007, AUC = 0.65 (95% CI = 0.58-0.71)), regardless of cognitive status. Because mood could have changed between the two assessments (they occurred at different points of the hospital stay), the multiple analyses were repeated after limiting time interval at 28, 21, and 14 days. No major improvements were noted. Conclusion: The HADD performed poorly in elderly inpatients regardless of cognitive status. It cannot be recommended in this population for depression screening without further study.
    International Psychogeriatrics 09/2012; · 2.19 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Previous studies revealed personality changes in elderly patients with early-onset depression (EOD) that persist in euthymic stages. However, depression in older patients is a complex disorder that may affect not only personality, but also cognition and brain structure. To address this issue, a cross-sectional comparison and 2-year follow-up of 28 EOD elderly patients and 48 healthy controls included detailed neurocognitive assessment, estimates of brain volumes in limbic areas and white matter hyperintensities, as well as evaluation of the Five Factor Model of personality, in a remitted mood state. Results revealed that cognitive performances as well as brain volumes were preserved in EOD patients both at baseline and at follow-up. The increased Neuroticism factor and Anxiety facet scores as well as the decreased Warmth and Positive Emotions facet scores found at baseline reached the level of healthy controls after 2years. Only the Depression facet scores remained significantly higher in EOD patients compared to controls upon follow-up. Results were independent of depressive relapse since baseline (25% of patients). These findings suggest that both cognitive performances and brain volumes show long-term preservation in older EOD patients. In contrast, the depression-related personality facet might be a trait like marker that persists in the long-term evolution of this disorder.
    Psychiatry research. 03/2012; 198(1):47-52.
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    ABSTRACT: Psychological predictors, such as personality traits, have aroused growing interest as possible predictors of late-life depression outcome in old age. It remains, however, unclear whether the cross-sectional relationship between personality traits and depression occurrence reported in younger samples is also present in the elderly. Comparisons amongst 79 outpatients with DSM-IV major depression and 102 healthy controls included assessment of the five-factor model of personality (NEO PI-R), socio-demographic variables, physical health status, as well as depression features. Two sub-groups were considered, defined as young (25-50 years) and old (60-85 years) patients. Depressed patients showed significantly higher levels of Neuroticism and lower levels of Extraversion, Openness to Experience and Conscientiousness compared to controls. Sequential logistic regression models confirmed that the combination of increased physical burden, levels of dependency, and increased Neuroticism strongly predicts the occurrence of acute depressive symptoms. In contrast, the levels of Neuroticism did not allow for differentiating late-life from young age depression. Increased physical burden and decreased depression severity were the main predictors for this distinction. Our data indicate that personality factors and depression are related, independently of patients' age. Differences in this relationship are mainly due to the intensity of depressive symptoms rather than the patients' life period. They also stress the need to consider physical health, level of dependency and severity of symptoms when studying the relationship between personality traits and mood disorders.
    Aging and Mental Health 11/2011; 16(4):472-80. · 1.68 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In last years, the concept of personality moved from the stability of categorical models over the lifespan to the complex interactions between gene, environment, and clinical expression according to the dimensional approaches. Within this framework, studies start to explore the impact of personality on the evolution and treatment of depression in old age.(Figure is included in full-text article.) Empirical evidence from younger patients has repeatedly confirmed that personality traits predict treatment course and outcome of depression. Epigenetic changes may partly determine the individual differences in personality changes facing life stresses. The limited number of studies on late-life depression revealed the differential impact of personality in early-onset versus late-onset depression. In this age group, the standardized assessment of personality traits allows predicting treatment outcome in psychotherapeutic settings for depressive outpatients. Studies on the interaction between genetic background and personality expression in late life are still missing. Personality traits emerge as a potentially powerful determinant of the clinical outcome in old-age depression. The integration of psychological and molecular genetics findings offers a new perspective into the personality-depression relationship. Its modulation by the accumulation of individual stressful life-events may play a main role in the outcome of late-life depression.
    Current opinion in psychiatry 07/2011; 24(6):478-83. · 3.57 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Professional boxers and other contact sport athletes are exposed to repetitive brain trauma that may affect motor functions, cognitive performance, emotional regulation and social awareness. The term of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) was recently introduced to regroup a wide spectrum of symptoms such as cerebellar, pyramidal and extrapyramidal syndromes, impairments in orientation, memory, language, attention, information processing and frontal executive functions, as well as personality changes and behavioural and psychiatric symptoms. Magnetic resonance imaging usually reveals hippocampal and vermis atrophy, a cavum septum pellucidum, signs of diffuse axonal injury, pituitary gland atrophy, dilated perivascular spaces and periventricular white matter disease. Given the partial overlapping of the clinical expression, epidemiology and pathogenesis of CTE and Alzheimer's disease (AD), as well as the close association between traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and neurofibrillary tangle formation, a mixed pathology promoted by pathogenetic cascades resulting in either CTE or AD has been postulated. Molecular studies suggested that TBIs increase the neurotoxicity of the TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43) that is a key pathological marker of ubiquitin-positive forms of frontotemporal dementia (FTLD-TDP) associated or not with motor neurone disease/amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Similar patterns of immunoreactivity for TDP-43 in CTE, FTLD-TDP and ALS as well as epidemiological correlations support the presence of common pathogenetic mechanisms. The present review provides a critical update of the evolution of the concept of CTE with reference to its neuropathological definition together with an in-depth discussion of the differential diagnosis between this entity, AD and frontotemporal dementia.
    Neuropathology and Applied Neurobiology 06/2011; 37(6):570-84. · 4.84 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cross-sectional studies in bipolar disorder (BD) suggested the presence of cognitive deficits and subtle magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) changes in limbic areas that may persist at euthymic stages. Whether or not cognitive and MRI changes represent stable attributes of BD or evolve with time is still matter of debate. To address this issue, we performed a 2-year longitudinal study including detailed neuropsychological and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) analyses of 15 euthymic older BD patients and 15 controls. Neuropsychological evaluation concerned working memory, episodic memory, processing speed, and executive functions. MRI analyses included voxel-based morphometry (VBM) analysis of gray matter including region of interest (ROI) analysis and tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS) analysis of white matter of diffusion tensor imaging derived fractional anisotropy (FA). BD patients displayed significantly lower performances in processing speed and episodic memory but not in working memory and executive functions compared to controls. However, BD patients did not differ from controls in the mean trajectory of cognitive changes during the 2 years follow-up. In the same line, longitudinal gray matter (VBM, ROI) and white matter (TBSS FA) changes did not differ between BD patients and controls. The lack of distinction between BD patients and controls in respect to the 2-year changes in cognition and MRI findings supports the notion that this disorder does not have a significant adverse impact on cognitive and brain aging. From this point of view, the present results convey a message of hope for patients suffering from BD.
    International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry 03/2011; 26(12):1309-18. · 3.09 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Previous magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies in young patients with bipolar disorder indicated the presence of grey matter concentration changes as well as microstructural alterations in white matter in various neocortical areas and the corpus callosum. Whether these structural changes are also present in elderly patients with bipolar disorder with long-lasting clinical evolution remains unclear. We performed a prospective MRI study of consecutive elderly, euthymic patients with bipolar disorder and healthy, elderly controls. We conducted a voxel-based morphometry (VBM) analysis and a tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS) analysis to assess fractional anisotropy and longitudinal, radial and mean diffusivity derived by diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). We included 19 patients with bipolar disorder and 47 controls in our study. Fractional anisotropy was the most sensitive DTI marker and decreased significantly in the ventral part of the corpus callosum in patients with bipolar disorder. Longitudinal, radial and mean diffusivity showed no significant between-group differences. Grey matter concentration was reduced in patients with bipolar disorder in the right anterior insula, head of the caudate nucleus, nucleus accumbens, ventral putamen and frontal orbital cortex. Conversely, there was no grey matter concentration or fractional anisotropy increase in any brain region in patients with bipolar disorder compared with controls. The major limitation of our study is the small number of patients with bipolar disorder. Our data document the concomitant presence of grey matter concentration decreases in the anterior limbic areas and the reduced fibre tract coherence in the corpus callosum of elderly patients with long-lasting bipolar disorder.
    Journal of psychiatry & neuroscience: JPN 01/2011; 36(6):391-401. · 6.24 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Previous studies revealed that acute depressive episodes are associated with both cognitive deficits and modified personality patterns in late life. Whether or not these psychological changes are present after remission remains a matter of debate. To date, no study provided concomitant assessment of cognition and psychological functions in this particular clinical setting. Using a cross-sectional design, 58 remitted outpatients (36 with unipolar early-onset depression (EOD) and 22 with bipolar disorder (BD)) were compared to 62 healthy controls. Assessment included detailed neurocognitive measures and evaluation of the five factor personality dimensions (NEO-Personality Inventory). Group comparisons revealed significant slower processing speed, working and episodic memory performances in BD patients. EOD patients showed cognitive abilities comparable to those of elderly controls. In NEO PI assessment, both BD and EOD patients displayed higher Depressiveness facet scores. In addition, the EOD but not BD group had lower Extraversion factor, and Warmth and Positive Emotion facet scores than controls. After remission from acute affective symptoms, older BD patients show significant impairment in several cognitive functions while neuropsychological performances remained intact in elderly patients with EOD. Supporting a long-lasting psychological vulnerability, EOD patients are more prone to develop emotion-related personality trait changes than BD patients.
    Journal of the neurological sciences 12/2010; 299(1-2):24-9. · 2.32 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Whether or not cognitive impairment and brain structure changes are trait characteristics of late-life depression is still disputed. Previous studies led to conflicting data possibly because of the difference in the age of depression onset. In fact, several lines of evidence suggest that late-onset depression (LOD) is more frequently associated with neuropsychological deficits and brain pathology than early-onset depression (EOD). To date, no study explored concomitantly the cognitive profile and brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) patterns in euthymic EOD and LOD patients. Using a cross-sectional design, 41 remitted outpatients (30 with EOD and 11 with LOD) were compared to 30 healthy controls. Neuropsychological evaluation concerned working memory, episodic memory, processing speed, naming capacity and executive functions. Volumetric estimates of the amygdala, hippocampus, entorhinal and anterior cingulate cortex were obtained using both voxel-based and region of interest morphometric methods. White matter hyperintensities were assessed semiquantitatively. Both cognitive performance and brain volumes were preserved in euthymic EOD patients whereas LOD patients showed a significant reduction of episodic memory capacity and a higher rate of periventricular hyperintensities compared to both controls and EOD patients. Our results support the dissociation between EOD thought to be mainly related to psychosocial factors and LOD that is characterized by increasing vascular burden and episodic memory decline.
    Journal of the neurological sciences 12/2010; 299(1-2):19-23. · 2.32 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The presence of cognitive and structural deficits in euthymic elderly depressed patients remains a matter of debate. Integrative aetiological models assessing concomitantly these parameters as well as markers of psychological vulnerability such as persistent personality traits, are still lacking for this age group. Cross-sectional comparisons of 38 elderly remitted patients with early-onset depression (EOD) and 62 healthy controls included detailed neuropsychological assessment, estimates of brain volumes in limbic areas and white matter hyperintensities, as well as evaluation of the Five-Factor personality dimensions. Both cognitive performances and brain volumes were preserved in euthymic EOD patients. No significant group differences were observed in white matter hyperintensity scores between the two groups. In contrast, EOD was associated with significant increase of Neuroticism and decrease of Extraversion facet scores. Results concern the restricted portion of EOD patients without psychiatric and physical comorbidities. Future longitudinal studies are necessary to determine the temporal relationship between the occurrence of depression and personality dimensions. After remission from acute depressive symptoms, cognitive performances remain intact in elderly patients with EOD. In contrast to previous observations, these patients display neither significant brain volume loss in limbic areas nor increased vascular burden compared to healthy controls. Further clinical investigations on EOD patterns of vulnerability in old age will gain from focusing on psychological features such as personality traits rather than neurocognitive clues.
    Journal of affective disorders 12/2009; 124(3):275-82. · 3.76 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Previous studies reported that the severity of cognitive deficits in euthymic patients with bipolar disorder (BD) increases with the duration of illness and postulated that progressive neuronal loss or shrinkage and white matter changes may be at the origin of this phenomenon. To explore this issue, the authors performed a case-control study including detailed neuropsychological and magnetic resonance imaging analyses in 17 euthymic elderly patients with BD and 17 healthy individuals. Neuropsychological evaluation concerned working memory, episodic memory, processing speed, and executive functions. Volumetric estimates of the amygdala, hippocampus, entorhinal cortex, and anterior cingulate cortex were obtained using both voxel-based and region of interest morphometric methods. Periventricular and deep white matter were assessed semiquantitatively. Differences in cognitive performances and structural data between BD and comparison groups were analyzed using paired t-test or analysis of variance. Wilcoxon test was used in the absence of normal distribution. Compared with healthy individuals, patients with BD obtained significantly lower performances in processing speed, working memory, and episodic memory but not in executive functions. Morphometric analyses did not show significant volumetric or white matter differences between the two groups. Our results revealed impairment in verbal memory, working memory, and processing speed in euthymic older adults with BD. These cognitive deficits are comparable both in terms of affected functions and size effects to those previously reported in younger cohorts with BD. Both this observation and the absence of structural brain abnormalities in our cohort do not support a progressively evolving neurotoxic effect in BD.
    The American journal of geriatric psychiatry: official journal of the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry 12/2009; 17(12):1012-21. · 3.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Although personality traits are considered significant predictors of both physical and mental health, their specific impact on treatment outcome in elderly patients with depression remains largely unexplored. Impact of personality traits on the evolution of depressive symptoms, quality of life, and perception of clinical progress was assessed in a psychotherapeutic community. A prospective longitudinal study was conducted in 62 elderly outpatients. Day hospital treatment as usual combined group and individual therapies, pharmacological treatment, as well as family and network meetings. Patients presented with major depression or a depressive episode of bipolar disease. The Geriatric Depression Scale, the Short Form Survey, and the Therapeutic Community Assessment scale were administrated at admission, 3, 6, 12 months, and at discharge. Personality was evaluated with the NEO Five-Factor Personality Inventory. Outcome revealed reduced depression and improved mental quality of life and clinical progress. Higher Geriatric Depression Scale scores were found in individuals with higher levels of Neuroticism (and its Vulnerability facet). Better self-perception of clinical progress was observed in individuals with lower levels of the Depressiveness and Modesty facets and higher openness to action. Improvement in quality of life was predicted by high Positive emotions facet. All these associations remained significant after controlling for age, gender, and treatment length. Personality traits may predict clinical outcome in psychotherapeutic hospital day care for elderly patients with depression.
    The American journal of geriatric psychiatry: official journal of the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry 05/2009; 17(4):335-43. · 3.35 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

673 Citations
129.08 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2013
    • Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt
      • Institute of Psychology
      Celovec, Carinthia, Austria
  • 2000–2013
    • University of Geneva
      • • Faculty of Medicine
      • • Division of General Psychiatry (Unit of Geriatric Psychiatry)
      • • Division of Geriatrics
      Genève, Geneva, Switzerland