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Randomized Controlled Trials of Psychoeducation Modalities in the Management of Bipolar Disorder: A Systematic Review

J Clin Psychiatry 2018;79(3):17r11750
10.4088/JCP.17r11750

Objective: This review sought to summarize the extant literature on the efficacy of 4 modalities of psychoeducation (individual, group, family, internet- based) in the management of patients with bipolar disorder.

Data Sources: We searched the digital databases (Science Direct, Scopus, PubMed/MEDLINE) for relevant randomized controlled trials (RCTs) pertaining to psychoeducation in bipolar disorder from inception to February 2017. Keywords and combinations used included psychoeducation, bipolar disorder, individual, family, group, and internet. Reference lists of review articles were also used for retrieval of relevant articles.

Study Selection: We retrieved 48 studies and ultimately reviewed 40 RCTs meeting inclusion criteria. Studies were included if they were in English, were RCTs of different psychoeducation modalities managing patients with bipolar disorder, and used standardized assessment of outcomes of psychoeducation.

Data Extraction: We examined each of the selected publications for relevant data.

Results: The majority of psychoeducation RCTs (28 of 40 studies, 70.0%) focused on group and family psychoeducation, with positive benefits reported in clinical outcomes, treatment, and functioning measures. Group psychoeducation was associated with reduced illness recurrences, decreased number and duration of hospitalizations, increased time to illness relapse, better treatment adherence, higher therapeutic lithium levels, and reduced stigma. Family psychoeducation was associated with reductions in illness recurrence, hospitalization rates, and better illness trajectory as well as increased caregiver knowledge, skills, support, and sense of well-being and reduced caregiver burden. There are fewer RCTs on individual and internet-based psychoeducation, with findings being inconsistent or negative.

Conclusions: Future studies may include direct comparisons of different psychoeducation modalities to elucidate specific benefits of unique psychoeducation interventions at different phases of bipolar disorder.