Between 2008 and 2010, more than eighteen thousand Dutch soldiers were posted to Afghanistan. The European Journal of Psychotraumatology features an assessment on the welfare of the squaddies after their return home by a group of researchers at the Ministry of Defence and the Medical Centre of the Vrije Universiteit, including Eric Vermetten, who also works for Leiden University Medical Centre.
Being deployed on a military mission is associated with a higher risk of mental disorders and that is noticeable in these men and women.
They were compared to a control group of soldiers who had stayed at home. In the year following their tour of duty, the chances that the veterans asked for psychological help were eighty per cent higher than the control group.
That sounds brutal, but the absolute figures are less shocking: one extra psychological consultation per thousand soldiers. And that means that the demand for mental care is still lower among Afghanistan veterans on average than among average Dutch citizens.
Happy or angry?
While investigating a new drug, Leiden psychologists discovered a side effect to an old drug. They wanted to know whether the new medicine would affect the test subjects’ ability to recognise an emotion.
That effect remains a secret for now, but in the scientific journal European Neuropsychopharmacology we can read that the researchers had certainly sorted out their confusing variables. The test subjects in question were female students and about two-thirds of them were on the Pill – the researchers had asked them to state whether they were or not – and so the researchers discovered that there was a considerable difference in results between the Pill users and their naturally-ovulating fellow test subjects. The Pill users had more difficulty recognising the expressions on angry, sad and disgusted faces.
And that is quite strange and the psychologists do not know its cause, but it is rather awkward. Female psychology students are practically always the test subjects for psychological research into emotion recognition and a substantial number of them are on the Pill. Daniëlle Hamstra and her colleagues recommend that researchers wait and see whether the results can be upheld in a study that was specifically intended for that purpose.
For women who suffer from incontinence, an urethral sling might be the solution. “Urethra” is the medical term for the tube that drains off your urine. The “sling” pushes the urethra slightly upwards and that could help - “could” being the operative word, as a group of gynaecologists at Leiden University Medical Centre discovered. They have published a report in the International Urogynecology Journal.
41 types of sling have been launched on the market since 1996, ten of which had actually been tested before the introduction. Of the nineteen companies that produce urethral slings, eleven were not able to submit date of any kind and seven couldn’t be arsed to even answer emails, letters or telephone calls.
This is not some obscure product that scarcely anyone uses: two million women have undergone surgery for a sling, and the numbers will only increase as the population ages.
The LUMC scientists are scandalised that so few companies have or are willing to submit test data.
The American and European authorities that regulate the market should lay down more stringent regulations, in their opinion. However, the smattering of studies that have been done after the market launch reveal that the sling cures incontinence in 78 to 92 per cent of the cases.
DOOR BART BRAUN