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Determinants of social functioning in bipolar disorder


  • The authors of this paper do not have any commercial associations that might pose a conflict of interest in connection with this manuscript.

Jan Scott, Department of Psychological Medicine, P.O. Box 96, DeCrespigney Park, Institute of Psychiatry, London SE5 8AF, UK. Fax: +44(0)207 8480298;


Background:  Evidence indicates that social outcomes in bipolar disorders (BP) are poorer than previously assumed. This study explores determinants of the quality and quantity of social activity.

Methods:  Seventy-seven subjects with BP completed self-report and observer-rated questionnaires assessing demographic and clinical factors, personality and social functioning.

Results:  Quality of functioning and spectrum of activity were found to be independent. The best determinants of the quality of functioning, accounting for 33% of the variance, were premorbid neuroticism and the current level of depressive symptoms. Only 30% of subjects were active in all social domains, and the quantity of social activity was largely explained by social circumstances, namely, living with someone else and later age of illness onset.

Conclusions:  The implications of these findings are discussed in this paper. We suggest that future studies need to differentiate between factors associated with the quality of functioning as compared with the quantity of social activity.

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