APA House Call: The Lack of Prevention, Screening in Psychiatry

April 26, 2020
Kevin Kunzmann

Why the field lacks behind in effective diagnostic tools, which could better inform tailored therapy.

The 2020 American Psychiatric Association (APA) Annual Meeting was cancelled this year, with plans made to convert the world-leading psychiatry conference into a two-part virtual session and educational platform for attendees.

In lieu of regular on-site coverage, HCPLive® will be running a series of interviews, insights, and reporting on topics that frequently headline the APA meeting—featuring familiar experts.

What can change the spectrum of care for any disease is a chain of breakthroughs—from perfecting screening, to understanding disease pathology, to accurate and timely diagnosis, and finally to individualized care. Each of these, in succession, often feed into one another: the clinician with confidence in identifying the problem quickly and completely can provide optimized care.

There’s expressed concern from at least a few experts that psychiatry has lacked these clinical breakthroughs for some time.

Carsten Korth, MD, a professor of molecular and neuropathology with the University of Dusseldorf, discussed with HCPLive his doubt that molecular-based testing for psychiatric diseases would be widely accepted in psychiatry.

“They don’t want to be guided by machines or molecules in this century-old tradition of weighing clinical symptoms,” Korth explained.

Korth talked to HCPLive about his and his colleagues’ notion that the gap from clinical schizophrenia diagnosis to blood-based testing can only be cleared with compromise. The argument is one worth having, he claimed.

“It’s really remarkable how there is so little progress in clinical psychiatry compared to neurology,” he said. “Psychiatry is still using drugs that were invented 70 years ago. Very clearly, you can’t give good therapy without good biologic diagnostics.”