This news story reports on results from a recent randomized trial, which found that taking fish oil capsules reduces the risk of psychosis in high-risk teens. While the results of this study seem exciting, this story tempers this excitement by indicating that further research is needed, particularly to determine if the same results can be seen in older people or those who already have a pyschotic disorder. While this story addresses many of our criteria, it would have been beneficial for the readers to know more about the cost, formulation, and dosage of the fish oil supplement used in the trial. In addition, commentary from independent experts in the field would have strengthened the piece.
There was no mention of the cost of dietary fish oil supplements.
This story clearly tells us that after one year, 11 out of 40 people in the placebo group developed a psychotic disorder, compared to 2 of the 41 people in the fish oil group. Additionally, the writer also presents the data in terms of number needed to treat (NNT), which tells the reader that 4 people need to take fish oil supplements for 12 weeks in order for 1 person to benefit. More information on what defines psychosis would have been helpful.
As the story indicates, fish oil supplements are not associated with serious side effects, unlike antipsychotic drugs that can lead to weight gain and sexual dysfunction. The story might have noted that some people taking fish oil supplements have reported mild gastrointestinal side effects (e.g. diarrhea).
The story did a nice job describing the study methods, specifically pointing out that half the teens and young adults received a placebo pill and half received a fish oil pill. It also mentioned that the results of this small trial should be interpreted with caution and additional studies are needed to determine if the same results can be seen in people with established psychosis, as well as those who are older.
The story does not appear to exaggerate the prevalence of psychotic disorders in teens and young adults.
The story does not include commentary from any independent sources. Furthermore, the quote provided by the study authors was pulled directly from the discussion section of the article.
The story briefly compares the efficacy of fish oil supplements to antipsychotic medications and “other interventions.” However, more specific information on this would have been useful. Additionally, it would have been helpful to know that participants in both groups received psychosocial and psychological interventions.
Fish oil pills sold as dietary supplements are widely available; however, supplement formulations can vary widely and some may only be available with a prescription. More information on the specific formulation used in the study, as well as the dosage would have been useful.
This story does a nice job of setting the stage by saying that patients with psychriatric disorders have been found to have low levels of omega 3; hence the need for trials to study fish oil pills in these patients. The story also points out that other studies have evaluated the effect of omega-3 fatty acids on depression and other psychiatric disorders; however, the results of these studies have been mixed.
There does not appear to be a news release associated with this story.