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Stabilizing the stabilizer: group psychoeducation enhances the stability of serum lithium levels

Authors

  • F Colom,

    1. Bipolar Disorders Program, Institut d'Investigacions Biomédiques Agustí Pi Sunyer, Barcelona Stanley Foundation Center, Barcelona
    2. Psychological Treatments Research, Division of Psychological Medicine, Institute of Psychiatry, London, UK
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  • E Vieta,

    1. Bipolar Disorders Program, Institut d'Investigacions Biomédiques Agustí Pi Sunyer, Barcelona Stanley Foundation Center, Barcelona
    2. Department of Psychiatry, Hospital Clinic, University of Barcelona, Barcelona
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  • J Sánchez-Moreno,

    1. Bipolar Disorders Program, Institut d'Investigacions Biomédiques Agustí Pi Sunyer, Barcelona Stanley Foundation Center, Barcelona
    2. Psychiatry Department, Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, Madrid, Spain
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  • A Martínez-Arán,

    1. Bipolar Disorders Program, Institut d'Investigacions Biomédiques Agustí Pi Sunyer, Barcelona Stanley Foundation Center, Barcelona
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  • M Reinares,

    1. Bipolar Disorders Program, Institut d'Investigacions Biomédiques Agustí Pi Sunyer, Barcelona Stanley Foundation Center, Barcelona
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  • JM Goikolea,

    1. Bipolar Disorders Program, Institut d'Investigacions Biomédiques Agustí Pi Sunyer, Barcelona Stanley Foundation Center, Barcelona
    2. Department of Psychiatry, Hospital Clinic, University of Barcelona, Barcelona
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  • J Scott

    1. Psychological Treatments Research, Division of Psychological Medicine, Institute of Psychiatry, London, UK
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Eduard Vieta, MD, PhD, Director Bipolar Disorders Program, Clinical Institute of Neuroscience, University Clinic Hospital of Barcelona, Villarroel 170, 08036 Barcelona, Spain. Fax: +34932275477; e-mail: evieta@clinic.ub.es

Abstract

Objective:  To determine the effect on the serum lithium levels of a psychoeducational program in patients with bipolar disorder.

Method:  This is a subanalysis of data obtained from a larger study on the efficacy of group psychoeducation in the prophylaxis of recurrences in bipolar disorders. Data on plasma lithium levels were obtained at five time points: baseline, 6, 12, 18 and 24 months. Serum lithium levels of patients who had received psychoeduction (psychoeducated) (N = 49) and non-psychoeducated patients (N = 44) were compared.

Results:  Mean serum lithium levels were significantly higher and more stable for the psychoeducation group.

Conclusions:  As changes in serum lithium level may be a powerful predictor of recurrence for bipolar patients, the addition of group psychoeducation to standard pharmacological treatment may be beneficial to optimize serum lithium levels and, thereby improve outcome.

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