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Keywords:

  • bipolar disorder;
  • impulsivity;
  • quality of life

Victor SE, Johnson SL, Gotlib IH. Quality of life and impulsivity in bipolar disorder. Bipolar Disord 2011: 13: 303–309. © 2011 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2011 John Wiley & Sons A/S.

Objectives:  Bipolar disorder (BD) is a chronic psychiatric illness that impairs quality of life (QoL) in numerous life domains even when mood symptoms are not present and is characterized by elevated impulsivity. Many of the comorbid conditions that are associated with diminished QoL in BD also involve impulsivity. The objective of this project was to investigate whether impulsivity might mediate the effects of these comorbid conditions on poor QoL.

Methods:  A total of 76 participants diagnosed with bipolar I disorder by the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Axis I disorders completed the Quality of Life in Bipolar Disorder (QoL-BD) scale, the Barratt Impulsivity Scale (BIS-11), and the Positive Urgency Measure (PUM). Participants were also assessed for comorbid DSM-IV diagnoses of anxiety, substance use, and impulse control disorders.

Results:  Several subscales of the BIS-11 as well as the PUM total score were significantly negatively correlated with overall QoL. PUM total score remained a significant predictor of QoL after controlling for comorbid anxiety, substance use, and impulse control disorders. After controlling for impulsivity, comorbid disorders were no longer significantly related to overall QoL.

Conclusions:  The data support the hypothesis that impulsivity, specifically positive urgency, is highly correlated with QoL in BD. Impulsivity was found to mediate the relation between QoL and several comorbidities in BD. Interventions targeting impulsivity might help to improve QoL in BD.