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Occupational outcome in bipolar disorder is not predicted by premorbid functioning and intelligence


Corresponding author:

Helle K Schoeyen, M.D.

Division of Psychiatry

Stavanger University Hospital

P.O. Box 8100

Stavanger 4068


Fax: +4751515050

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Bipolar disorder (BD), over the long term, can manifest a variety of outcomes depending on a number of different conditions. There is a need for further knowledge regarding preventive factors as well as predictors of the disabling course of the disorder. Studies regarding the impact on functional outcome of premorbid and current general intellectual function [intelligence quotient (IQ)] and premorbid functioning in BD patients are sparse. The present study addressed the role of premorbid functioning [assessed with the Premorbid Adjustment Scale (PAS)], intelligence, course of illness, and sociodemographics on occupational outcome in BD.


Bipolar disorder patients were recruited consecutively from psychiatric units (outpatient and inpatient) in four major hospitals in Oslo, Norway [(N = 226: 64.4% bipolar I disorder (BD-I); 30.1% bipolar II disorder (BD-II); 5.5% bipolar disorder not otherwise specified (BD-NOS); 38.6% males]. The associations between current IQ, premorbid IQ [assessed using the National Adult Reading Test (NART)], PAS, clinical and sociodemographic characteristics, and receipt of disability benefit were analysed using descriptive statistics and logistic regression analyses.


The number of hospitalizations for depressive episodes and illness duration was associated with a higher risk of receipt of disability benefit. PAS, premorbid and current IQ, as well as decline in IQ, did not explain the higher risk of receipt of disability benefits.


Severe clinical course of BD was associated with receipt of disability benefit. Occupational outcome was unrelated to PAS, premorbid and current IQ, as well as decline in IQ. This suggests that the persistence of severe clinical symptoms, rather than global cognitive functioning, determines occupational outcome in BD and emphasizes the protective potential of early and continuous clinical treatment.

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