Professor Josefina Castro-Fornieles

Josefina Castro: “Research needs to incorporate different disciplines.”


Chair of the ESCAP 2015 Programme Committee

Josefina Castro-Fornieles: bridging the “wide gap” between research and clinical practice

“Research needs to incorporate different disciplines – both basic and clinical – such as developmental neuropsychology, genetics, neuroimaging, neurobiology, therapy, epidemiology and prevention”, says professor Josefina Castro-Fornieles, chair of the Madrid programme committee, who was responsible for the outstandingly rich programme at the upcoming ESCAP 2015 Congress.

Professor Castro explains how she and her team gave substance to the motto of the 16th ESCAP conference and what range of knowledge mental health professionals may expect when they travel to Spain this summer.

What is the vision behind “From research to clinical practice: Linking the expertise”?
Dr Castro: “There is a progressive international recognition of the importance of research in child and adolescent psychiatry, given that at these ages it is possible to study the different disorders without influence from years of evolution or successive treatments. Nevertheless, there is a wide gap between habitual practice and research. The final objective of research in child and adolescent psychology is to improve clinical practice, and that requires increasing the relationship between clinical and research perspectives.”

Optimizing daily practice
“Research can help to optimize daily practice, and clinical expertise can influence what questions are relevant questions for improving diagnostics and treatments. Research also contributes knowledge about first symptoms, which may be fundamental for prevention. Therefore, research needs to incorporate different disciplines – both basic and clinical – such as developmental neuropsychology, genetics, neuroimaging, neurobiology, therapy, epidemiology and prevention. Studies focusing on prevalence rates and long-term follow-up of disorders, as well as quality clinical trials and cost-effective treatment analyses are needed.”

In what field do you think is the demand of European clinicians that come to Madrid?
“I think that clinicians are very interested in specific and differentiated treatments that are available for different disorders, both in the psychotherapeutic approach – attention to problems in cognitive processing, experiences, coping strategies and problem-solving, behaviour contingencies – and the pharmacological approach. These approaches have to consider the different stages from birth to adolescence and their specificities that require different interventions and strategies. Family and early interventions are also a relevant topic for clinicians.”

Interdisciplinary approach
How do you think they will enrich their knowledge in Madrid?
“In child and adolescent mental health, it is really necessary to approach disorders in an interdisciplinary manner and with participation from different professionals. They will enrich their knowledge about how different groups work in collaboration in order to address environmental factors, family problems, learning problems, chronic illnesses, and so on. The perspectives of the different lectures are very wide, both regarding the therapeutic approach and the main disorders that are going to be addressed.”

Main challenges and future perspectives
“There will be experts talking about different psychotherapeutic and psychopharmacological approaches of disorders such as borderline personality, anxiety, depressive or autism disorders. Also etiological perspectives and diagnostic methods of different disorders will be presented. Delegates will obtain a global vision of main challenges and future perspectives in mental health in children and adolescents.”