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Original Research

Prevalence and Burden of General Medical Conditions Among Adults With Bipolar I Disorder: Results From the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions

Brian E. Perron, Matthew O. Howard, Jenna K. Nienhuis, Mark S. Bauer, Amanda Toler Woodward, and Amy M. Kilbourne

Published: October 15, 2009

Article Abstract

Objective: To examine the prevalence and burden of general medical conditions (GMCs) among a nationally representative sample of adults with bipolar I disorder.

Method: Data for this study were derived from the 2001-2002 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (N‘ ‰=‘ ‰43,093), which included US adults aged 18 years and older. This study focused on the subsample of adults with DSM-IV-diagnosed bipolar I disorder (n‘ ‰=‘ ‰1,548). The past-year prevalence of 11 GMCs was examined. Associations between GMCs, bipolar I disorder, and disability measures (12-Item Short-Form Health Survey) were tested using multivariate regression analyses.

Results: Approximately 32.4% of adults with bipolar I disorder had 1 or more GMCs. In the general population, diagnosis with bipolar I disorder was a significant risk factor for 7 of 11 GMCs in adjusted analyses. Among adults with bipolar I disorder, those with 1 or more GMCs evidenced significantly greater disability across all disability measures compared to those without a GMC. Individual GMCs were significantly associated with physical, mental, and psychosocial disability in adjusted analyses and predicted specific patterns of disability.

Conclusions: GMCs were found disproportionately among persons with bipolar I disorder and associated with significant impairments in health and psychosocial functioning. Health care providers should screen for and treat GMCs in service populations including persons with bipolar disorder, given the heightened rates of morbidity, mortality, and disability that attend untreated GMCs in this client group. Integrated and collaborative treatment approaches could significantly improve overall functioning and quality of life for persons with this treatable disorder.

Submitted: July 29, 2008; accepted November 24, 2008.

Corresponding author: Brian E. Perron, PhD, School of Social Work, 1080 South University Ave, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109 (

Volume: 70

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