MRI May Help Predict Psychiatric Care Efficacy

Australian psychiatry researchers have developed a model that could help predict a patient's likelihood of a good outcome from treatment—from his or her very first psychotic episode.

The model, to be published in The Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, is based on a range of factors, including clinical symptoms, cognitive abilities, MRI scans of the brain's structure, and biomarkers in the patient's blood.

Speaking in the lead-up to Mental Health Week, Adelaide University's head of psychiatry, Professor Bernhard Baune, PhD, MD, MPH, says the model is a revolutionary idea for psychiatric care, and is aimed at improving treatment for people suffering from mental illnesses such as schizophrenia. He says the model is applicable to other types of mental illnesses as well.

Baune says the model builds on a decade of research in this field, and a review and reinterpretation of the relevant studies to date.

"Individual illness progression is dependent on a wide range of factors, including sociodemographic, clinical, psychological, and biological. These are complex issues, and data on all of them is required in order to model the trajectory of the illness," he says. "Our model shows that the probability of achieving long-term favorable or unfavorable outcomes can differ significantly depending on the information we have within the first six months of the onset of the disease.

"As with all novel clinical approaches, the use of this model in practice will require rigorous testing. And we would be the first to caution that a tool such as this could ever replace a good quality, empathic treatment relationship with a patient."
— SOURCE: The University of Adelaide