When patients with bipolar disorder receive treatment in a specialized mood disorder clinic, they are far less likely to return to a psychiatric hospital, according to a new clinical trial.
Over an average 2.5-year period, this treatment greatly reduced the risk for hospital readmission by 40 percent compared with standard treatment, said psychiatrist Dr. Lars Vedel Kessing from the Copenhagen University Hospital, Denmark and his team.
“The main advantage of specialized mood disorder clinics is that focused treatment programs combining updated evidence-based pharmacological treatment with group psychological interventions such as group psychoeducation can be provided by a cross-disciplinary team of professionals that are specialized and scientifically up to date about bipolar disorder,” said the researchers.
For the study, 158 manic or bipolar patients who were being discharged from a psychiatric hospital for the first, second or third time were randomly assigned to receive treatment in a mood disorder clinic or standard care.
The 72 patients who were treated in the mood disorder clinic received evidence-based pharmacologic treatment as well as group psychoeducation once a week for 12 weeks, followed by three additional booster sessions.
The remaining 86 patients received treatment by a primary care physician, a private psychiatrist, or at the local community mental health center.
Patients who attended the mood disorder clinic were less likely to be readmitted to the hospital within a six-year period following discharge from the clinic, at a rate of 36.1 percent compared to 54.7 percent for the control group.
The time spent in the hospital during first readmission and all readmissions cumulatively were also shorter if patients had attended the mood disorder clinic — 12 versus 22 days and 33 versus 49 days, respectively.
Mood stabilizers and antipsychotic treatment were more often used by patients in the mood disorder clinic group and their satisfaction with treatment was higher compared to those in the standard care group.
“It is possible with early and sustained pharmacological and psychological treatment, like that offered in a mood disorder clinic, to improve the long-term course of illness in bipolar disorder,” said the researchers.
“These findings suggest that more focus should be put on early outpatient intervention among patients with severe mania/bipolar disorder.”