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Social support in late life mania: GERI-BD

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Abstract

Objective

Using the database of the National Institute of Mental Health-sponsored acute treatment of late life mania study (GERI-BD), we assessed the role of social support in the presentation of late life bipolar mania.

Methods

In the first 100 subjects randomized in geriatric BD, we explored the demographic, clinical, and social support characteristics (assessed using the Duke Social Support Index) and aspects of manic presentation. We selected two dependent variables: symptom severity, as determined by the Young Mania Rating Scale (YMRS) at baseline, and duration of episode. We selected nine potential independent variables on the basis of Pearson correlation coefficients. We derived two final models using multiple regression analysis employing an iterative process.

Results

In our severity model, being married was associated with a higher YMRS score (p = 0.05), whereas higher social interaction scores with non-family members were associated with a lower YMRS score (p = 0.011). In the episode duration model, longer duration was associated with a higher Hamilton Depression Rating Scale score (p = 0.03) and higher social interaction scores with non-family members (p = 0.0003), younger age (p = 0.04), higher number of persons in one's family social network (p = 0.017), and higher instrumental support scores (p = 0.0062).

Conclusions

In late life mania, more social interaction with one's community appears to be associated with less severe symptoms at presentation for treatment, however, it can also be associated with slightly longer the duration of episode. Two aspects of the Duke Social Support Index are associated with a shorter episode duration prior to seeking treatment: being part of a larger family network and a having a higher level of instrumental support prior to treatment. The Instrumental Support Subscale measures the degree of assistance that is available for the respondent in performing daily tasks. These findings suggest that in older adults with BD, close social interactions and support are important in limiting the length of the illness episode prior to treatment. Social interactions involving non-family members may be less important in moderating the intensity of the symptoms at presentation. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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