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Bmc Psychiatry

Pharmacotherapy for Bipolar Disorder and Concordance With Treatment Guidelines

Survey of a General Population Sample Referred to a Tertiary Care Service

Sabrina Paterniti, Jean-Claude Bisserbe


BMC Psychiatry. 2013;13(211)


Background Many new approaches have been adopted for the treatment of bipolar disorder (BD) in the past few years, which strived to produce more positive outcomes. To enhance the quality of care, several guideline recommendations have been developed. For study purposes, we monitored the prescription of psychotropic drugs administered to bipolar patients who had been referred to tertiary care services, and assessed the degree to which treatment met specific guidelines.

Methods Between December 2006 and February 2009, we assessed 113 individuals suffering from BD who had been referred to the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre (ROMHC) Mood Disorders Program by physicians within the community, mostly general practitioners. The Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV-TR was used to assess diagnosis. The prescribed treatment was compared with specific Canadian guidelines (CANMAT, 2009). Univariate analyses and logistic regression were used to assess the contribution of demographic and clinical factors for concordance of treatment with guidelines.

Results Thirty-two subjects had BD type I (BD-I), and 81 subjects had BD type II (BD-II). All subjects with BD-I, and 90% of the BD-II group were given at least one psychotropic treatment. Lithium was more often prescribed for subjects with BD-I (62%) than those with BD-II (19%). Antidepressants were the most frequently prescribed class of psychotropics. Sixty-eight percent of subjects received treatment concordant with guidelines by medication and dose. The presence of a current hypomanic episode was independently associated with poorer concordance to guidelines. In more than half the cases, the inappropriate use of antidepressants was at the origin of the non concordance of treatment with respect to guidelines. Absence of psychotropic treatment in bipolar II patients and inadequate dosage of mood stabilizers were the two other main causes of non concordance with guidelines.

Conclusions The factors related to treatment not concordant with guidelines should be further explored to determine appropriate strategies in implementing the use of guidelines in clinical practice.

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