Since the ‘80s the Unit has carried out many longitudinal studies to identify predictive patterns of outcomes. At the beginning of 2005 the Unit launched the Psychosis Incident Cohort Outcome Study (PICOS), a multisite longitudinal naturalistic research involving 28 mental health services in the Veneto Region to explore the relationships between clinical and genetic factors in predicting the outcome of first-episode psychotic patients.
The Unit has recently conducted the Research Program GET UP (Genetics, Endo-phenotypes and Treatment: Understanding early Psychosis), funded by the Italian Ministry of Health (National Coordinator: Professor Mirella Ruggeri). Its main axis is a cluster randomized controlled trial (PIANO) involving 116 Mental Health Centres located in a catchment area of nearly 10 million inhabitants. The PIANO trial aimed to test the feasibility of a multi-component psychosocial intervention; identify barriers that obstacle its application; identify clinical, psychological, and environmental predictors of treatment efficacy in first-episode psychosis.
The Unit is currently WP leader of the multisite COFI research (COmparing policy framework, structure, effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of Functional and Integrated systems of mental health care) funded by EU. The aim of COFI is to compare the outcomes of functional (i.e. after hospital discharge other clinicians are in contact with the patient for outpatient treatment) and integrated (i.e. after hospital discharge the same clinician is in contact with the patient for outpatient treatment) systems of care in Belgium, England, Germany, Italy and Poland in a 1 year-follow up.
A research area coordinated by Antonio Lasalvia deals with stigma and discrimination issues. International collaborations are taking place such as the INDIGO Research Network that has promoted the INDIGO-DISCUS (Developing a short version of the Discrimination and Stigma Scale) and the INDIGO-PRIMARY (PRogramme to IMplement interventions addressing knowledge, Attitudes and behaviour of primaRY care providers towards people with mental illness).
A research area coordinated by Sarah Tosato has implemented in 2007 a Laboratory of Psychiatric Genetics and in 2009 a Genetic Bio-Bank, with research projects aiming to identify genetic and environmental determinants (obstetric complications, childhood trauma, stressful life events, cannabis use) of outcome for psychiatric illnesses. Among the European studies, SGENE (genome-wide association study) and EU-GEI (determinants of psychoses). Ongoing local projects, the assessment of subjects taking INF-α and ribavirin treatment for chronic HCV infection in order to identify predictors of INF-α induced depression and understand the molecular mechanisms and the prevalence of depression in patients affected by chronic inflammatory diseases (principal investigator Dr. Carletto A., co-investigator Prof. Tosato S.).
Over the years, the Unit members have published hundreds of scientific publications in international peer-reviewed journals. Professor Mirella Ruggeri has been president of the European Network for Mental Health Service Evaluation, the Italian Society of Psychiatric Epidemiology and currently Vice-President of the International Federation of Psychiatric Epidemiology. She is Member of the Board of the major associations in the field and Member of the Editorial Board of various international journals.
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