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Keywords:

  • bipolar disorder;
  • mood disorders;
  • internet;
  • screening;
  • diagnosis

Objective

To determine whether those completing a self-report bipolar self-test measure and identified as having a likely bipolar disorder judged the self-test as useful and had a subsequent superior illness course.

Method

We invited those completing the web-based Mood Swings Questionnaire (or MSQ) to provide contact details and contribute to a 3-month study evaluating their responses to being identified as having a likely bipolar disorder, any subsequent action taken and the impact of such actions on their illness trajectory.

Results

We analysed data received from 665 participants screening ‘positive’ on the MSQ and completing baseline and 3-month follow-up data. High rates of satisfaction with the MSQ were quantified, with respondents viewing the measure as informative, validating and/or motivating. Of those receiving a confirmed bipolar diagnosis, such clarification occurred on average 12 years after their first depressive episode. Most implemented self-management strategies irrespective of whether seeking formal diagnostic clarification or not. Participants improved on depressive, quality of life and overall functioning measures over the study period, but with results indicating (via analysis of three sample subsets differing by the degree of ‘actions taken’) that those who took assertive action and had the diagnosis confirmed had the most superior outcome.

Conclusion

This is the first study to formally evaluate the clinical impact of a self-report bipolar disorder screening measure. High acceptance and superior outcomes quantified for those acting assertively in response to such a new diagnosis argue for its ‘real world’ utility.