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Results From an Online Survey of Patient and Caregiver Perspectives on Unmet Needs in the Treatment of Bipolar Disorder

Prim Care Companion CNS Disord 2014;16(4):doi:10.4088/PCC.14m01655
doi:10.4088/PCC.14m01655

Objective: To look at the manner in which patients and caregivers perceive the treatment of bipolar disorder compared with the evidence base for bipolar treatment.

Method: Between April 2013 and March 2014, 469 respondents took a 14-question online survey on demographics, medications taken, and perspectives on bipolar treatment and medications. Participants were recruited through social media outlets (Facebook and Twitter accounts) of Global Medical Education (New York, New York) and the blog Bipolar Burble, which has a primary audience of people with bipolar disorder. There were no exclusion criteria to participation, and both patients and health care professionals were encouraged to participate.

Results: Most respondents were taking ≥ 3 medications, and the greatest unmet need in treatment was for bipolar depression. In general, respondent perspectives on the effectiveness of individual medication treatments did not align with the available literature. Weight gain was the greatest side effect concern for both antipsychotics and mood stabilizers.

Conclusions: Our survey demonstrates that there are still many unmet needs in the treatment of bipolar disorder. There is also a mismatch between the evidence base for treatments in bipolar disorder and patient perception of the relative efficacy of different medications. In order to achieve better outcomes, there is a need to provide patients and clinicians greater quality education with regard to the best evidence-based treatments for bipolar disorder.