Frequently Asked Questions

  1. FAQWhat is PsyMaptic?
  2. How does it work?
  3. How do you know it is accurate?
  4. Who developed it?
  5. Who funded it?
  6. Why is it free?
  7. Your predictions differ to what we observe in our region, why is this?
  8. Why can’t I find prediction data for some ethnic groups or other sociodemographic characteristics?
  9. Why don’t you provide estimates for Scotland or other countries?
  10. Why don’t you provide estimates for  areas smaller than Local Authority Districts?
  11. What future development do you have planned?
  12. Since launching Version 1.0, my PsyMaptic maps display in all grey. How can I fix this?

1. What is PsyMaptic?

PsyMaptic stands for Psychiatric Mapping Translated into Innovations for Care. It is a free tool (consisting of interactive maps and tables) for mental health care commissioners and other interested stakeholders, which provides forecasts about the expected incidence (new cases) of psychotic disorders in England and Wales each year.

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2. How does it work?

We obtained epidemiological data from two large English studies of first episode psychosis (new cases of psychotic disorder) over a two year period. This data can be used to tell us about the  risk of developing psychotic disorder in different groups (like men, women, people under 35 years old or in different ethnic groups). We then took these risk estimates and applied them to the population structures of different regions of England and Wales to estimate the expected incidence (number of new cases) in different populations. You can read an overview of this method, or read a full description of our methodology in our published academic paper.

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3. How do you know it is accurate?

Before we made our prediction data freely available we tested it first to make sure it was as accurate as possible. We do not publish data which we feel would yield inaccurate predictions (also see Q7 below). To ensure our predictions were accurate we first considered several different statistical models  (36 in total) – each one was fitted with different combinations of sociodemographic (such as age, sex or ethnicity) and environmental characteristics (such as deprivation or population density). We applied each of these models to the 2011 Census population structure of East Anglia to obtain the predicted number of cases from each model. We then compared these predicted numbers with the actual number of cases we observed over the same period. This observed data had been collected in a separate scientific study of first episode psychotic disorders called the SEPEA (the Social Epidemiology of Psychoses in East Anglia) study. We used the model which predicted closest to the observed number of cases as the basis for predictions for the whole of England and Wales. You can read about this methodology in more detail here. No predictions are guaranteed to be 100% accurate, because they rely on a number of assumptions. We recommend users of our data read our disclaimer prior to using the data provided on this website.

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4. Who developed it?

The development of PsyMaptic was led by Dr James Kirkbride. He is currently based in the Division of Psychiatry, UCL. The tool was developed while he was part of EpiCentre group in the Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge. The project was overseen by Professor Peter B. Jones, Head of the Department of Psychiatry. Dr Daniel Jackson of the MRC Biostatistics Unit at the University of Cambridge was the statistical adviser to the project. The data used to predict expected rates of psychotic disorder and to validate the tool was collected from major, large studies of first episode psychosis in England.  A full list of people who helped make this work possible can be found here.

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5. Who funded it?

Principal funding for this  project was made possible by the Wellcome Trust. Professor Peter Jones also received support for this project from the National Institute of Health Research. We are grateful to the Cambridge and Peterborough Collaborations for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (Cambridgeshire & Peterborough) [CLAHRC-CP] for their support.

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6. Why is it free?

We support the Wellcome Trust’s policy for making health and scientific data freely available wherever possible. We have made key prediction data freely available on this website for England and Wales in order to make this tool as valuable as possible for NHS commissioners and any other interested stakeholders. Some further prediction data may be requested as customised data, for which we charge a fee to cover the costs involved in statistical modelling and data validation.

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7. Your predictions differ to what we observe in our region, why is this?

Our predictions are based on several assumptions:

  • First, our predictions are based on the age ranges 16-35 years, 36-64 years and 16-64 years. Please check that your observed numbers correspond to these age ranges. We do not currently include 14 and 15 year olds in our predictions
  • Second, our predictions do not include those defined as “at-risk mental states”, “ultra-high risk” or those on “extended assessment. Please ensure you remove these people from your observed counts before comparing with the predicted counts.
  • Third, our sample is only based on people who meet criteria for a clinically diagnosed first episode of ICD-10 psychotic disorder up to 6 months after acceptance into your team. Please exclude anyone from your observed count who would not meet this criteria (i.e. those who might be instead diagnosed with Asperger’s, personality disorder or other primary non-psychotic mental health disorders.
  • Fourth, our predictions are based on people living in your catchment area at the time they first became unwell, and does not include people transferred into your service from other regions. Our sample will, however, include students living in your region who are at University.

Finally, please be aware that predictions contain a degree of statistical error, which is expressed as a range of numbers within the observed count may fall. For example, if we predicted 20 cases per year for a given region, we would also publish a 95% prediction error with this – in this example it could be 15-25. This means, that our “best” estimate for the number of cases in this region is 20 per year, but it could be anywhere between 15 and 25. Sometimes the actual observed number of new people with FEP may fall outside this range. Remember models are based on predictions which contain a degree of uncertainty. We will continue to refine models to reduce this.

Please ensure you compare your observed counts to our predictions based on the same conditions specified above. If your observed count of cases still falls outside of our predicted range for your region(s), please then let us know as this will help us improve our models. We acknowledge that our prediction models contain a degree of imprecision and we are continually seeking to improve them. It is important you understand our methodology and acknowledge our disclaimer before using our predictions.

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8. Why can’t I find prediction data for some ethnic groups or other sociodemographic characteristics?

Our tool uses data by age group, sex, ethnicity and Local Authority District [LAD] population density to predict the expected count of new cases of psychotic disorder in England and Wales each year. We presently publish this prediction data by broad age group (16-64, 16-35, 36-64 years), by sex and for 6 major ethnic groups (white British, black Caribbean, black African, Pakistani, Bangladeshi & people of mixed ethnicities). We do not publish prediction data for certain ethnic groups at present (including Indian, non-British white and all other ethnic groups) because we were unhappy with the level of validity achieved when we considered some ethnic groups separately (i.e. our predictions for some ethnic groups differed statistically from what we observed in the SEPEA study – see Q3). You can read full details of the validity of Version 1.0 of our model in our Release Notes. Until we are happy that our predictions reach a minimum level of validity we will not make them freely available. We may be able to provide such data as a customised request, provided the end user understands the experimental nature of these predictions.

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9. Why don’t you provide estimates for Scotland or other countries?

Data are not currently available for Scotland and Northern Ireland because we could not obtain recent population data at a suitable geographical level at the time we developed this tool. When suitable population data become available for the whole of the UK from the 2011 census we will update our prediction models and make data available subject to satisfactory validity.

We may seek to develop this tool for application to other countries, though this will require further investment and development and is subject to the availability of suitable population and mental health data in other countries.

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10. Why don’t you provide estimates for  areas smaller than Local Authority Districts?

While 2011 Census population data is available for smaller geographical levels than Local Authorities (such as electoral wards or lower super output areas), predicting psychotic disorders at these levels is difficult, given added modelling complications and because psychotic disorders are relatively rare. This means predictions at such a small scale may be prone to a higher degree of error. We will always seek to balance acceptable error in predictions against the finest level of spatial aggregation useful for prediction and planning purposes.

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11. What future development do you have planned? 

We hope to extend the modelling in several directions, including prediction data for the whole of the UK, predictions for specific psychotic disorders, predictions for other mental health disorders, and potentially, predictions for overseas territories. All future prediction work will be subject to ensuring adequate funding is available for this project.

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12. Since launching Version 1.0, my PsyMaptic maps display in all grey. How can I fix this? 

You may need to clear your internet browser’s cache for PsyMaptic Version 1.0 maps to display properly. This is because we use new maps for England and Wales which use different area codes than the previous map. Your browser stores a local cache of these maps to save time, but you may need to clear the old cache first. Consult your web browser’s settings on how to do this, then refresh (F5) your PsyMaptic window.

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