• bipolar disorder;
  • cognitive impairment;
  • functional outcome;
  • occupational adaptation;
  • psychosocial functioning;
  • verbal memory

Introduction:  Few studies have examined the clinical, neuropsychological and pharmacological factors involved in the functional outcome of bipolar disorder despite the gap between clinical and functional recovery.

Methods:  A sample of 77 euthymic bipolar patients were included in the study. Using an a priori definition of low versus good functional outcome, based on the psychosocial items of the Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF, DSM-IV), and taking also into account their occupational adaptation, the patients were divided into two groups: good or low occupational functioning. Patients with high (n = 46) and low (n = 31) functioning were compared on several clinical, neuropsychological and pharmacological variables and the two patient groups were contrasted with healthy controls (n = 35) on cognitive performance.

Results:  High- and low-functioning groups did not differ with respect to clinical variables. However, bipolar patients in general showed poorer cognitive performance than healthy controls. This was most evident in low-functioning patients and in particular on verbal memory and executive function measures.

Conclusions:  Low-functioning patients were cognitively more impaired than highly functioning patients on verbal recall and executive functions. The variable that best predicted psychosocial functioning in bipolar patients was verbal memory.