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Adequacy of Treatment Received by Diagnosed and Undiagnosed Patients With Bipolar I and II Disorders

J Clin Psychiatry 2007;68:102-110

Objective: To investigate the adequacy of pharmacotherapy received by psychiatric inpatients and outpatients with a research diagnosis of bipolar I or II disorder, including patients both with and without a clinical diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

Method: In the Jorvi Bipolar Study (JoBS), 1630 psychiatric inpatients and outpatients in 3 Finnish cities were systematically screened between January 1, 2002, and February 28, 2003, for bipolar I and II disorders using the Mood Disorder Questionnaire. By using SCID-I and -II interviews, 191 patients were diagnosed with bipolar disorder (90 bipolar I and 101 bipolar II). Information was collected on clinical history, diagnosis, and treatment. The adequacy of treatment received was evaluated.

Results: Of the 162 patients with previous bipolar disorder episodes, only 34 (20.9%) of all and 30 (55.5%) of those with a clinical diagnosis of bipolar disorder were using a mood stabilizer at onset of the index episode. Only 81 (42.4%) of all 191 patients and 76 (65.0%) of those diagnosed with bipolar disorder received adequate treatment for the acute index phase. The factor most strongly independently associated with adequate treatment was clinical diagnosis of bipolar disorder (OR = 25.34). In addition, rapid cycling (OR = 2.45), polyphasic index episode (OR = 2.41), or depressive index phase (OR = 3.36) independently predicted inadequate treatment.Outpatients received adequate treatment markedly less often than inpatients.

Conclusions: Clinical diagnosis of bipolar disorder is by far the most important prerequisite for adequate treatment. Problems in treatment are associated mostly with outpatient settings, where adequacy of treatment of bipolar depression is a major concern. Lack of attention to the longitudinal course of illness is another major problem area.