Dickerson F, Origoni A, Stallings C, Khushalani S, Dickinson D, Medoff D. Occupational status and social adjustment six months after hospitalization early in the course of bipolar disorder: a prospective study. Bipolar Disord 2010: 12: 10–20. © 2010 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2010 John Wiley & Sons A/S.
Objectives: Bipolar disorder is often accompanied by poor functional outcomes, the determinants of which are not fully understood. We assessed patients with bipolar disorder undergoing a hospital admission early in the illness course and identified predictors of occupational status, overall social adjustment, and work adjustment six months later.
Methods: This was a prospective longitudinal cohort study. During hospitalization patients were evaluated with a cognitive battery; symptoms, occupational history, and other clinical factors were also assessed. At six-month follow-up, patients’ symptom remission status was assessed; they were also evaluated as to their occupational status, overall social adjustment, and work adjustment. Multivariate analyses were used to identify predictors of these outcomes.
Results: Among the 52 participants, the average rating of overall social adjustment at follow-up was between mild and moderate maladjustment. While 51 had a history of working full time, only 28 (54%) worked full time at follow-up. A total of 24 (46%) had symptoms that met criteria for a full depression or mania syndrome. In multivariate analyses, full-time occupational status at follow-up was predicted by the absence of baseline substance abuse. Better overall social adjustment was predicted by better performance on cognitive tasks of processing speed and by symptom remission; the latter variable also predicted work adjustment.
Conclusions: Persons with bipolar disorder have limited occupational recovery and overall social adjustment six months after a hospital admission early in the illness course. Predictors vary among outcomes; performance on tasks of processing speed and the extent of symptom remission are independently associated with functional outcomes.