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Keywords:

  • aging;
  • assessment tool;
  • BACS ;
  • bipolar disorder;
  • cognitive impairment

Objectives

A growing body of evidence suggests that impairment in cognitive functioning is an important clinical feature of both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and that these cognitive alterations worsen with age. Although cognitive assessments are increasingly becoming a part of research and clinical practice in schizophrenia, a standardized and easily administered test battery for elderly patients with bipolar disorder is still lacking. The Brief Assessment of Cognition in Schizophrenia (BACS) captures those domains of cognition that are the most severely affected in patients with schizophrenia and the most strongly correlated with functional outcome. The primary aim of our study was to investigate the clinical usefulness of the BACS in assessing cognitive functioning in elderly euthymic patients with bipolar disorder, and to compare their cognitive profile to that of elderly patients with schizophrenia.

Methods

Elderly euthymic patients with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia were assessed using the BACS and a standard cognitive test battery.

Results

Fifty-seven elderly patients (aged 60 years and older) with bipolar disorder (n = 42) or schizophrenia (n = 15) were invited to participate. All of the patients were assessed by the BACS as being cognitively impaired. The patients with bipolar disorder scored significantly higher on the global scale and the verbal memory and attention sub-scores of the BACS than the patients with schizophrenia.

Discussion

The BACS appears to be a feasible and informative cognitive assessment tool for elderly patients with bipolar disorder. We believe that these preliminary results merit further investigation.