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Highlights from the Nordic Journal of Psychiatry (Spring of 2022)


The Nordic Journal of Psychiatry, formerly “Nordisk Psykiatrisk Tidsskrift”, is an international journal that publishes excellent psychiatric research with a broad scope. It is the official journal for the eight psychiatric associations in the Nordic and Baltic countries. It is a main source of information about current Nordic psychiatry and related fields, The journal is distributed to members of the Nordic and Baltic Psychiatric Associations as well as to members of Associations for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. This gives access to all articles published in the journal from 1946.

The effects of COVID-19 pandemic mandatory home quarantine on mental health

Does quarantine as a containment measure have adverse effects on individual's mental health? The authors investigated by total population sampling in a Finnish suburban city psychic well-being and distress, symptoms of depression and anxiety among individuals imposed to home quarantine. A total of 57 quarantined cases were identified and followed up until expiration of the quarantine. A control group was formed. Outcome was the psychic well-being and distress measured by the Clinical Outcomes in Routine Evaluation - Outcome Measure (CORE-OM). The cases were followed up by the Clinical Outcomes in Routine Evaluation-10 (CORE-10), Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9), and by the Overall Anxiety Severity and Impairment Scale (OASIS). It was found that the measures were mostly in the nonclinical to mild range and that the difference between the groups was nonsignificant. Higher levels of psychic distress were explained by previous psychiatric disorders and living alone, but not having been quarantined. The authors conclude that the distress associated with short-term home quarantine may not be to the degree of a mental disorder.

Kari I Aaltonen, Suoma Saarni, Matti Holi, Markus Paananen. The effects of mandatory home quarantine on mental health in a community sample during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nord J Psychiatry. 2022 Apr 12;1-8. doi: 10.1080/ 08039488.2022.2061047. Online ahead of print. PMID: 35412416

What patient characteristics predict treatment success or failure in short- and long-term psychotherapies?

Patient characteristics - demographic, pathology and personal - may either facilitate achievement of recovery and lasting benefits or constitute a risk for different kinds of treatment failure. The author reviews the literature on the role of pre-treatment patient characteristics on the success or failure of short- and long-term psychotherapy for mood and anxiety disorders. He finds that there is no consistent evidence of demographic variables as predictors of treatment failure, except for lower socioeconomic status, being male and ethnic minority status for therapy non-attendance. Severity of psychiatric symptoms, greater functional impairment, personality disorder and other comorbidities, are mostly associated with lesser recovery but does not consistently predict treatment failure. Secure attachment style and motivation, self-observing capacity and good overall psychological suitability mostly increase the likelihood of therapy success whereas some vulnerabilities and poor psychological suitability, or overall complexity (i.e. combination of demographic, clinical and personality factors), increase the risk of poor outcome mostly in short-term but not in long-term therapy, or moderate dropout. Likewise, the subsequent match between therapy type and patient's pre-treatment expectations and preferences may account for different aspects of treatment failure. It is concluded that the relative importance of pre-treatment patient characteristics on treatment failure is not known.

Olavi Lindfors. What patient characteristics predict treatment success or failure in short- and long-term psychotherapies? Nord J Psychiatry. 2022 Mar 14;1. doi: 10.1080/ 08039488.2021. 2019902. Online ahead of print. PMID: 35287540

Cognitive functioning and cannabis use in first-episode psychosis

Cannabis use is common in people with psychotic disorders and the effect of cannabis on cognition in psychosis remains unclear. The authors investigate relationships between the history of cannabis use and cognitive performance in patients with first-episode psychosis during a one-year follow-up. Symptoms of psychosis and anxiety were evaluated on the brief psychiatric rating scale. Negative symptoms were assessed using the scale for the assessment of negative symptoms. Cognitive tests were used to evaluate neurocognition and social cognition. It was found that men used cannabis more frequently than women. Never having used cannabis was associated with a better neurocognitive profile at 12 months. More severe anxiety symptoms were associated with better neurocognition at two months, and less severe negative symptoms were associated with better neurocognition at 12 months. Cannabis use was not associated with social cognition. No associations between cognitive performance and cannabis use emerged in a control group. It was concluded that negative and affective symptom severity was associated with cognitive performance to a greater degree than a lifetime history of cannabis use.

Boris Karpov, Maija Lindgren, Tuula Kieseppä, Asko Wegelius, Jaana Suvisaari. Cognitive functioning and cannabis use in first-episode psychosis. Nord J Psychiatry. 2021 Dec 29;1-8. doi: 10.1080/ 08039488.2021.2018038. Online ahead of print. PMID: 34964681

Assisted living for mentally ill-a systematic literature review and its recommendations

The reduction in psychiatric hospital beds in the past decades has created a need for assisted living (AL), but studies on it are scarce. The authors aimed to identify study characteristics of the reviewed articles, characteristics of inhabitants and characteristics of different types of AL, financial costs in different types of AL and the individual outcomes in AL inhabitants and quality of care. To this end a systematic literature review on AL for the mentally ill focusing on inhabitant and AL features and their costs was conducted. It was found that the majority of inhabitants were unemployed single male with psychotic disorders. The type of AL is mainly categorized according to staffing, provided support, and housing arrangement. Quality of care was better in small units with preset expected length of stay for inhabitants. Hospital treatment was significantly more expensive than any type of AL. Living in AL improved quality of life compared to hospital treatment, also psychiatric symptoms were reduced. It was concluded that there is an evident need for evidence-based studies in a longitudinal comprehensive manner that evaluates different AL types, function of the inhabitants, and costs with respect to the quality of AL and care and outcome.

Joel Ketola, Erfan Jahangiri, Helinä Hakko, Pirkko Riipinen, Sami Räsänen. Assisted living for mentally ill-a systematic literature review and its recommendations. Nord J Psychiatry. 2021 Dec 28;1-20. doi: 10.1080/08039488.2021.2001568.Online ahead of print. PMID: 34962222


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