A brief dyadic group based psychoeducation program improves relapse rates in recently remitted bipolar disorder: A pilot randomised controlled trial

Russell D'Souza, Danijela Piskulic, Suresh Sundram

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Background: Various adjunctive psychotherapies assist in decreasing relapse and improving outcomes for people with bipolar disorder (BD). Psychoeducation programs involving patient-only or caregiver-only groups have demonstrated some efficacy. We tested in recently remitted BD if a combined group based psychoeducation program involving patient-companion dyads decreased relapse. Method: 58 recently remitted BD out-patients were randomised to receive either treatment as usual (TAU, n = 31) or 12 × 90 minute psychoeducation sessions delivered weekly in a group program to the patient and companion (SIMSEP, n = 27). After 12 weeks SIMSEP patients reverted to TAU and all patients were followed until week 60 or relapse. The primary outcome measure was relapse requiring hospital or intensive community intervention. Results: 45 patients completed the study. 29 patients remained well at week 60 (SIMSEP n = 17, TAU n = 12), whilst 16 had relapsed (SIMSEP n = 3, TAU n = 13). The SIMSEP group were less likely to relapse (Fisher's exact test p = 0.013; OR = 0.16; 95% CI 0.04-0.70) and had an 11 week longer time to relapse compared to the TAU group (chi-square (1) = 8.48, p < 0.01). At study completion SIMSEP compared to TAU patients had lower Young Mania Rating Scale scores (Mann-Whitney U = 255, p < 0.01). Limitations: The study was limited by a small sample size. Conclusion: A brief group psychoeducation program with recently remitted BD patients and their companions resulted in a decreased relapse rate, longer time to relapse, decreased manic symptoms and improved medication adherence suggesting utility in the adjunctive psychotherapeutic treatment of BD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)272-276
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Bipolar 1 disorder
  • Clinical trial
  • Group psychoeducation

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