PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- A new care model for bipolar disorder tested in veterans across the nation reduced their manic episodes and improved their quality of life, according to research led by a psychiatrist with the Providence Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Brown Medical School.
The randomized, controlled trial also showed that the model did not add to the treatment costs for bipolar disorder, which affects nearly 6 million American adults a year. Results appear in two reports published in Psychiatric Services, a journal of the American Psychiatric Association.
"We applied the same symptom management approaches found in interventions for diabetes and asthma to the treatment of bipolar disorder and found that people with serious mental illness can help take control of their care," said Mark S. Bauer, M.D., staff psychiatrist with the Providence V.A. Medical Center and professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown Medical School. "This finding should reduce the stigma of helplessness that so often is associated with these disorders, and it will open new avenues for the treatment of bipolar disorder."
Bauer oversaw the clinical trial and is the lead author of both journal articles.
The new model was developed and tested in veterans with bipolar disorder at the Providence V.A. Medical Center. During the trial, 306 veterans were enrolled at 11 V.A. centers located in Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas. Each veteran was randomly assigned to a study group. One group got usual care through their psychiatrist. The other group received treatment under the new model.
Developed by Bauer and colleagues, the model brings together psychiatrists and nurses as a team to treat the patients. Psychiatrists monitored symptoms and handled medications. Nurse care coordinators worked with veterans during group education sessions.