Anna Meneghelli

Azienda Ospedaliera Niguarda Ca' Granda, Italy

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Publications (24)42.26 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: In November 2005 the Italian Center on Control of Maladies, a department operating under the Ministry of Health, financed a project aimed at evaluating the feasibility of a protocol of intervention based on the early intervention in psychosis (EIP) model within the Italian public mental health-care network. The study was carried out between March 2007 and December 2009. It involved five centres operating under the Departments of Mental Health of Milan (Programma 2000), Rome (area D), Grosseto, Salerno (Nocera) and Catanzaro (Soverato). Enrolment lasted 12 months, at the end of which 43 patients were enrolled as first-episode psychosis (FEP), and 24 subjects as ultra high-risk (UHR) patients. Both FEP and UHR samples included a preponderance of male patients. A family history of psychosis was rarely reported in both samples. The FEP incidence rate was lower than expected on the basis of international estimates of the incidence of schizophrenia but within the expected figure for the estimated Italian rates in three centres out of five. Overall, the study proved that an EIP centre can be established within the public Department of Mental Health to reach a good fraction of the cases in need of treatment. Since then, several studies have been set up to assess the feasibility of EIP in the Italian public mental health sector in Lombardy and Tuscany, and in 2012 the Emilia-Romagna Regional Authority started an educational plan aimed at implementing the EIP model in all the Mental Health Departments in the region.
    Early Intervention in Psychiatry 03/2014; · 1.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Sex-related differences in the clinical expression and outcome of schizophrenia have long been recognized; this study set out to evaluate whether they extend to those subjects who are at high risk of developing psychosis. In a sample enrolled in two early intervention programs in northern Italy, patients with first-episode psychosis (FEP; n=152) were compared to patients at ultra-high risk of psychosis (UHR; n=106) on a series of sex-related clinical characteristics of schizophrenia. In both the FEP and the UHR samples, males outnumbered females. In FEP patients, women had been referred at an older age than men and had a shorter duration of untreated illness (DUI) and of untreated psychosis. In UHR patients no sex differences were found in age of onset or DUI. There was no diagnosis by sex interaction on symptoms severity or level of functioning at presentation. The limited number of women in both samples, and the exclusion of people who were older than 30 and of those with substance dependence may have reduced the extent of sex-related differences in this study. Sex differences of precipitating factors for psychosis might be worthy of further investigation.
    Psychiatry Research. 01/2014; 215(2):314–322.
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    ABSTRACT: The underlying structures of clinical caseness and need of care in prodromal (i.e., at-risk) and early phases of schizophrenia remain poorly characterized in their essential psycho-behavioral coherence. To identify the schizophrenia proneness-related subtypes within a population of young help-seekers referred to a dedicated, community-based early detection program (Programma 2000). A sample of consecutive referrals (n = 168) for suspected psychosis or first-episode schizophrenia spectrum psychosis received a detailed clinical assessment, including the early recognition inventory for the retrospective assessment of the onset of schizophrenia checklist. We used exploratory factor analysis (EFA) to determine the underlying dimensional structure and latent class analysis (LCA) to identify putative vulnerability subtypes. EFA identified four factors: dysphoria (irritability tension), paranoid autocentrism, introversive withdrawal, and disturbed subjective experience. LCA distinguished three classes, interpretable as carrying different degrees of "proneness to schizophrenia psychosis," which best captured the underlying continuum of clinical severity. The validity of the three classes was supported by distinct patterns of association with major clinical variables (i.e., diagnostic staging at referral). Vulnerability to schizophrenia psychosis in young help-seekers may manifest in three major clinical prototypes, presenting common levels of dysphoria and social withdrawal but different degrees of paranoid autocentrism and disturbed subjective experience. Overall, the results provide the empirical background to dissect shared features of clinical caseness from more schizophrenia-specific vulnerability components. This is of value for the refinement of the clinical staging model as well as for the pragmatic implementation of multiple-gate screening programs.
    European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience 07/2013; · 3.36 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This study set out to investigate the patterns of referral in a sample (n = 206) of patients having first-time access to an Italian comprehensive program that targets the early detection of and early intervention on subjects at the onset of psychosis. The primary goal of the study was to investigate the duration of untreated illness (DUI) and/or the duration of untreated psychosis (DUP) in the sample since the implementation of the program. Data on pathways of referrals prospectively collected over a 11-year period, from 1999 to 2010; data referred to patients from a defined catchment area, and who met ICD-10 criteria for a first episode of a psychotic disorder (FEP) or were classified to be at ultra-high risk of psychosis (UHR) according to the criteria developed by the Personal Assessment and Crisis Evaluation (PACE) Clinic in Melbourne. Changes over time in the DUI and DUP were investigated in the sample. Referrals increased over time, with 20 subjects enrolled per year in the latter years of the study. A large majority of patients contacted a public or private mental health care professional along their pathway to treatment, occurring more often in FEP than in UHR patients. FEP patients who had contact with a non-psychiatric health care professional had a longer DUP. Over time, DUP and DUI did not change in FEP patients, but DUI increased, on average, in UHR patients. The establishment of an EIP in a large metropolitan area led to an increase of referrals from people and agencies that are not directly involved in the mental health care system; over time, there was an increase in the number of patients with longer DUI and DUP than those who normally apply for psychiatric services.
    Social Psychiatry 07/2013; · 2.05 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Objective: This study aimed at defining the characteristics of a population of patients diagnosed with first-episode psychosis (FEP), and accessing for the first time a center for early intervention in psychosis in the health district of Milan and its surroundings. Methods: Patients were included in the study from January 2007 to December 2008; criteria: first contact with any public mental health service of the catchment area for a first episode of schizophrenia or related syndromes according to the ICD-10 criteria. Cluster analysis was used to divide patients into groups based on the main socio-demographic and clinical characteristics at presentation. Results: Overall, 91 FEP patients were enrolled in the study. Two clusters were identified, which differed principally by symptom profile. Patients in cluster 1 (n=36) had severe agitation, and a history of alcohol and/or substance abuse at presentation more often than those in cluster 2 (n=55), who were more likely to suffer at presentation from severe depression or apathy, anxiety, poor self-care, functional or work impairment and severe social withdrawal. After six months of treatment patients improved on almost all symptomatic dimensions on the Health of the Nation Outcome Scale and the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale, with greater improvement in cluster 1 than in cluster 2. Conclusions: The findings of this study need replication in larger samples and on a wider severity scale. Nevertheless, the heterogeneity of patients with FEP might impact on treatment. Policymakers should recognize the importance of the diagnostic and outcome assessment in the treatment of severe mental disorders.
    Clinical Practice and Epidemiology in Mental Health 01/2013; 10:1-8.
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    ABSTRACT: The people classified as being at ultra-high risk (UHR) of developing psychosis are expected to share many risk factors for psychosis with the patients diagnosed with schizophrenia, including an enhanced incidence of obstetric complications (OCs). This study set out to investigate the incidence and correlates of OCs in a sample of patients accessing an early intervention center. Patients' mothers were asked whether they had suffered from any somatic complication during pregnancy from a list of OCs with potential direct relevance to the physical wellbeing of the offspring. Out of 86 patients diagnosed with first-episode psychosis, 20 (23%) cases were positive for the occurrence of severe OCs, as reported by their mothers during an interview; out of 83 UHR patients, 21 (25%) cases were positive for OCs. OCs were more common in individuals with a family history of psychosis than in those without such a history. OCs might interact with genetic vulnerability to increase the risk of psychosis. Lack of comparison to healthy controls is a limitation that decreases the value of these findings.
    Psychiatry Research 08/2012; · 2.68 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Multi-element interventions for first-episode psychosis (FEP) are promising, but have mostly been conducted in non-epidemiologically representative samples, thereby raising the risk of underestimating the complexities involved in treating FEP in 'real-world' services. METHODS/DESIGN: The Psychosis early Intervention and Assessment of Needs and Outcome (PIANO) trial is part of a larger research program (Genetics, Endophenotypes and Treatment: Understanding early Psychosis - GET UP) which aims to compare, at 9 months, the effectiveness of a multi-component psychosocial intervention versus treatment as usual (TAU) in a large epidemiologically based cohort of patients with FEP and their family members recruited from all public community mental health centers (CMHCs) located in two entire regions of Italy (Veneto and Emilia Romagna), and in the cities of Florence, Milan and Bolzano. The GET UP PIANO trial has a pragmatic cluster randomized controlled design. The randomized units (clusters) are the CMHCs, and the units of observation are the centers' patients and their family members. Patients in the experimental group will receive TAU plus: 1) cognitive behavioral therapy sessions, 2) psycho-educational sessions for family members, and 3) case management. Patient enrolment will take place over a 1-year period. Several psychopathological, psychological, functioning, and service use variables will be assessed at baseline and follow-up. The primary outcomes are: 1) change from baseline to follow-up in positive and negative symptoms' severity and subjective appraisal; 2) relapse occurrences between baseline and follow-up, that is, episodes resulting in admission and/or any case-note records of re-emergence of positive psychotic symptoms. The expected number of recruited patients is about 400, and that of relatives about 300. Owing to the implementation of the intervention at the CMHC level, the blinding of patients, clinicians, and raters is not possible, but every effort will be made to preserve the independency of the raters. We expect that this study will generate evidence on the best treatments for FEP, and will identify barriers that may hinder its feasibility in 'real-world' clinical settings, patient/family conditions that may render this intervention ineffective or inappropriate, and clinical, psychological, environmental, and service organization predictors of treatment effectiveness, compliance, and service satisfaction. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier NCT01436331.
    Trials 05/2012; 13(1):73. · 2.21 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Duration of untreated psychosis (DUP) can influence the prognosis of schizophrenia. Previous studies have suggested that gender may influence the length of DUP. This study reports the result of the first systematic literature review and meta-analysis on the role of gender in influencing DUP in first-episode psychosis. Systematic literature search in PubMed/Medline and Ovid/PsychINFO. Twenty-seven studies presenting data on 4721 patients diagnosed with psychosis at their first episode (2834 males and 1887 females) were included in the analysis. Samples had a higher proportion of males: odds ratio = 2.5 (95% confidence interval: 1.8-3.3). Mean age at first contact was 25.4 for males and 27.5 for females. Patients from non-Western countries were older at first contact than patients from Western countries. Average DUP in schizophrenia was 64 weeks and did not differ between genders but was shorter in Western compared with non-Western countries. Earlier age at first contact and larger incidence in males support the existence of specific gender differences in first-episode psychosis; however, these are not associated with DUP length.
    Early Intervention in Psychiatry 03/2012; 6(2):115-27. · 1.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Aim: So far, no study has assessed the validity of the Health of the Nation Outcome Scales (HoNOS) in patients enrolled in early intervention programmes, nor has any study evaluated the validity of the HoNOS in people at ultra high-risk (UHR) of psychosis. This study set out to assess the validity and reliability of the HoNOS as a measure of outcome in the patients enrolled in an early intervention programme. Methods: The concurrent, discriminant and predictive validity, and the reliability of the HoNOS as a measure of outcome in an early intervention programe were assessed in 87 first-episode psychosis (FEP) patients, and in 81 patients at UHR of psychosis. Results: Reliability indexes were good in the FEP sample, and less good in the UHR sample. HoNOS total scores differentiated between FEP and UHR patients, and the HoNOS subscales proved able to assess a specific profile of symptoms in the two samples, demonstrating a helpful adjunctive measure of health status without complete overlap with other scales. Sensitivity to change was also very good, again with differences between FEP and UHR patients. HoNOS scores at intake did not predict failure to attain remission in FEP patients. There were too few cases of transition to psychosis (n = 2) to assess predictive validity of HoNOS in the UHR sample. Conclusion: HoNOS possesses satisfactory sensitivity and validity to be used in the routine assessment in early intervention programmes.
    Early Intervention in Psychiatry 01/2012; · 1.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Early intervention programmes are expected to result in the reduction of illness severity in patients with schizophrenia, and contain health-care costs by reducing hospital admissions and improving the social functioning of patients. This study aimed to investigate the cost-effectiveness of treatment in an early intervention programme in comparison to standard care. Retrospective analysis of data prospectively recorded in an urban area (Milan, Italy). Twenty-three patients from an early intervention programme and 23 patients from standard care with first-episode psychosis were evaluated on their use of services over a 5-year period. The Health of the Nation Outcome Scale was used to measure clinical status. Significant changes with respect to initial assessment were recorded on the Health of the Nation Outcome Scale, with larger effect sizes in the early intervention programme than in the standard care group. Consequently, the cost-effectiveness ratio per reduced score of severity was lower in the early intervention programme than in standard care (€ 4802 vs. € 9871), with an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio, or net saving of €-1204 for every incremental reduced score of severity. Over time, greater recourse to hospital and residential facilities to obtain comparable improvement in symptoms resulted in a steady cost increase for the patients in standard care. Allocation of funds to specialized early intervention programmes is the best alternative, as it can save costs by reducing the use of hospitals and residential facilities, and may produce net savings of costs in the long term.
    Early Intervention in Psychiatry 08/2011; 5(3):203-11. · 1.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Expressed emotion (EE) was examined in a large sample of families of patients with either first-episode psychosis (FEP) within the schizophrenia spectrum, or who met the criteria for ultra high-risk (UHR) of psychosis. The aim of our study was to determine the patterns and relationship of EE with the duration of untreated illness (DUI) or of untreated psychosis (DUP), as well as with illness severity. The sample used in our study included 77 FEP and 66 UHR families. The Camberwell Family Interview was used to assess EE. In both samples, about one-third of patients' families were classified as high EE, with emotional over-involvement (EOI) being the most frequent reason for a family to be classified as high EE. In FEP, higher EE correlated with longer DUI, and higher paternal EOI with longer DUP. DUI, however, was not found to correlate to EE in UHR patients. Severity of illness at the initial assessment did not relate to EE in either FEP or UHR families. Families of FEP and UHR patients were not found to differ in terms of the prevalence of a high EE rating, or of any of its subcomponents. The results of this study only partially support the hypothesis that high EE develops as a reaction to patient status. Patients from families with high EE could possibly benefit from interventions that are targeted at improving their resilience when dealing with problematic family environments.
    Psychiatry Research 04/2011; 189(3):331-8. · 2.68 Impact Factor
  • Anna Meneghelli, Angelo Cocchi, Antonio Preti
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was to describe a service operating in Milan, Italy, that provides early intervention for young people aged 17-30 years at the onset and at high risk of psychosis. Following 2 years of preliminary study and organization, Programma2000 was launched in Milan in 1999. This programme was targeted at early detection and intervention in subjects at the onset of, at risk of, or showing 'prodromal' signs of psychosis. This paper contains data on the organization and activities of Programma2000. The service has been active since its launch and has received 378 referrals as of March 2009, 342 of which were thoroughly evaluated. At entry, patients undergo a detailed evaluation of their psychopathology, personal and social role functioning, and cognitive status, with repeated testing over time in order to multidimensionally assess outcome. Treatment involves cognitive-behavioural psychotherapy, structured and unstructured psychosocial interventions, and pharmacotherapy when deemed necessary. Treatment appears effective in reducing morbidity and improving social functioning. A team dedicated to the early identification and treatment of young people with early psychosis is a feasible and sustainable extension of the traditional methods of care for people with mental disorders in Italy.
    Early Intervention in Psychiatry 02/2010; 4(1):97-103. · 1.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Suicidality is high in schizophrenia, particularly in first-episode patients. Little is known about patients with prodromal symptoms of psychosis or otherwise high-risk persons. In a sample enrolled in an early intervention program implemented in Milan (Italy), a history of attempted suicide before enrollment was found in 6 first-episode schizophrenia (out of 87, 6.9%), and 7 high-risk of psychosis (out of 81, 8.6%) patients. In the first-episode group, a history of suicide attempts was related to a shorter duration of untreated psychosis. In the high-risk group, a family psychiatric history in first/second degree relatives of patients and a personal history of substance abuse were both associated with an enhanced risk of attempted suicide before enrollment. During the first year of treatment, 3 new attempted suicides were recorded among 57 (5.3%) high-risk patients, and none among first-episode patients (n=58) (no dropout in the sample). The levels of suicide ideation on the BPRS did not differ by group at assessment, and significantly declined from assessment at entry to 1-year follow-up, except in seven HRP patients who become positive for core symptoms of schizophrenia, as measured on the BPRS. At enrollment, patients at high risk of psychosis had the same prevalence of past suicide attempts than first-episode schizophrenia patients: since suicide attempt is the most important predictor of a future suicidal attempt, the assessment of suicide risk should be given a privileged role in patients at high risk of psychosis as well.
    Schizophrenia Research 07/2009; 113(2-3):145-50. · 4.59 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Individuals seeking help from prodromal services may have been experiencing attenuated psychotic features and psychosocial impairments for a long period prior to referral. The effect of an extended duration of these untreated ;at risk' symptoms on patients' long-term functional outcome was assessed in a 12-month longitudinal observational study (n=49). A longer duration of untreated ;at risk' symptoms was correlated with a reduced improvement in Global Assessment of Functioning scores after 12 months (beta=-0.375, P=0.008). This effect was independent of age and gender and may have implications for the improvement of treatment strategies in pre-psychotic phases.
    The British journal of psychiatry: the journal of mental science 03/2009; 194(2):181-2. · 6.62 Impact Factor
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    Angelo Cocchi, Anna Meneghelli, Antonio Preti
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    ABSTRACT: This paper describes the structure and the organization of the single Italian programme specifically targeted at the early detection of and interventions for subjects at onset of or at high risk of psychosis, Programma 2000. Programma 2000 is a comprehensive multi-modal protocol of early intervention in psychosis, set up in Milan in 1999. The service has been very active since its opening, and at the time of writing (spring (April) 2008), more than 300 young patients have been evaluated through a detailed protocol that embraces Health of the Nation Outcome Scale (HoNOS), Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS), Cognitive Behavioural Assessment 2.0, Disability Assessment Schedule, Camberwell Family Interview, Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale and the Early Recognition Inventory Retrospective Assessment of Symptoms. The treatment includes psychoeducation, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), both structured and unstructured psychosocial interventions and pharmacotherapy, when necessary. The programme focuses on young people aged 17-30 years: to date, a total of 132 subjects with definite psychosis or within the high-risk category have been enrolled in treatment after assessment. Patients with first-episode psychosis were, on average and expectedly, more severe than those in the at-risk group, and were more likely to be prescribed antipsychotic drugs. A large majority of patients in both groups received tailored CBT; individual sessions of skills training were provided to two-thirds of patients. In both groups, improvement was found in both the BPRS and HoNOS, and in the level of global functioning as assessed on Global Assessment of Functioning at 6 month and 1 year follow up. Global functioning was more sensitive to change than symptom severity, reflecting the intensive and personalized efforts to improve social and role functioning in patients. Programma 2000 is still in development but it has already gained the support of therapists and other relevant people involved in the life of subjects at onset, or at high risk of psychosis.
    Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 01/2009; 42(12):1003-12. · 3.29 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The effectiveness of early intervention in schizophrenia is still under discussion. The guidelines described in the present paper were aimed at contributing to the current debate by providing Italian practitioners, families, patients and health managers with evidence-based information on early intervention. They also examined the diagnostic tools that are currently available for assessing different stages of psychotic disorders. A multidisciplinary panel of experts (the Guidelines Development Group) used a set of key-questions to develop an explicit search strategy to conduct a systematic review of the literature published from January 2000 to June 2006. Trained personnel then selected papers from those yielded by the literature search. The Guidelines Development Group's final recommendations were scaled according to the Italian National Guidelines System grading system. The evidence available up to the time of the literature search does not allow for recommendation of early intervention targeting prodromal or at-risk patients to prevent progression from the prodromal phase to acute, full-blown psychosis, nor to improve prognosis. Conversely, identification and timely treatment of first-episode psychotic patients through specific early intervention programmes are highly recommended. The Italian Guidelines on early intervention in schizophrenia are based on a comprehensive assessment of an updated, large-scale body of literature. They draw specific, evidence-based conclusions to assist clinicians and stakeholders in the planning and implementation of appropriate intervention programmes. Further research is needed to ascertain the effectiveness of early intervention in delaying or preventing the conversion to psychosis and improving prognosis in prodromal or at-risk patients. Further investigation is also required for first-episode and critical period patients.
    Early Intervention in Psychiatry 11/2008; 2(4):291-302. · 1.65 Impact Factor
  • A Alpi, A Cocchi, A Meneghelli, N Pafumi, G Patelli
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    ABSTRACT: In the field of early psychosis psychoeducation is considered fundamental to increase coping skills with diseases and to improve the quality of life of patients and their families. The more recent and updated guidelines on schizophrenia underline the extreme importance of the families involvement in treatment of young people in the initial phases of illness. "Families are the main support for many young patients. They could be the primary carers but they have also to face individual and social consequences following the onset course. Where feasible, family members must be involved in the treatment". This work describes the components of the work with families carried on by the Centre for the early detection of psychoses and high-risk situations--Programma 2000 ("Niguarda Ca' Granda" Hospital-Milan) and is mostly focused on psychoeducation and on Expressed Emotions aspects. Even the advances suggested by the international literature drove Programma 2000 to define both the steps of caregivers assessment and intervention. During the last ten years, Programma 2000 has followed 191 caregivers. Aims of this work is to verifier the outcome of the "pilot project", started in 2007, projected specifically to increase the normally used strategies to improve the caregivers adherence and involvement in the therapeutic process. The individualized multi-componential intervention has been structured in 8 session over one years. Outcome measures used in this article are the scores of the Camberwell Family Interview and from the Psychosis Knowledge Assessement Semistructured Interview (VCP). The subjects enrolled in the structured pilot project were 25 family caregiver to young (18-30 yrs old) patients. Results shows change in the Expressed Emotion level: 13% of families moved from High Expressed Emotion to Low Expressed Emotion. Furthermore data on the knowledge of illness knowledge level illustrate a reduction in the percentage, from 47% to 18%, of carers who have just a very vague knowledge of illness, and an increase from 16% to 27% of carers who obtain a good level of specific knowledge. In conclusion we can sustain mental health expert with aim to treatment project programme individualized and multi-componential tailored for young's caregiver at the onset phase of psychosis.
    Giornale italiano di medicina del lavoro ed ergonomia 01/2008; 30(3 Suppl B):B62-70.
  • F. Galvan, A. Fresco, A. Meneghelli
    Schizophrenia Research - SCHIZOPHR RES. 01/2006; 86.
  • G. Patelli, A. Meneghelli, N. Pafumi, A. Cocchi
    Schizophrenia Research - SCHIZOPHR RES. 01/2006; 86.
  • C. Caprin, A. Meneghelli, S. Roman'o, A. Cocchi
    Schizophrenia Research - SCHIZOPHR RES. 01/2006; 86.