The IBER study: a feasibility randomised controlled trial of imagery based emotion regulation for the treatment of anxiety in bipolar disorder.
Steel C., Wright K., Goodwin GM., Simon J., Morant N., Taylor RS., Brown M., Jennings S., Hales SA., Regan J., Sibsey M., Thomas Z., Meredith L., Holmes EA.
BACKGROUND: Intrusive mental imagery is associated with anxiety and mood instability within bipolar disorder and therefore represents a novel treatment target. Imagery Based Emotion Regulation (IBER) is a brief structured psychological intervention developed to enable people to use the skills required to regulate the emotional impact of these images. METHODS: Participants aged 18 and over with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder and at least a mild level of anxiety were randomly assigned (1:1) to receive IBER plus treatment as usual (IBER + TAU) or treatment as usual alone (TAU). IBER was delivered in up to 12 sessions overs 16 weeks. Clinical and health economic data were collected at baseline, end of treatment and 16-weeks follow-up. Objectives were to inform the recruitment process, timeline and sample size estimate for a definitive trial and to refine trial procedures. We also explored the impact on participant outcomes of anxiety, depression, mania, and mood stability at 16-weeks and 32-weeks follow-up. RESULTS: Fifty-seven (28: IBER + TAU, 27: TAU) participants from two sites were randomised, with 50 being recruited within the first 12 months. Forty-seven (82%) participants provided outcome data at 16 and 32-weeks follow-up. Thirty-five participants engaged in daily mood monitoring at the 32-week follow-up stage. Retention in IBER treatment was high with 27 (96%) attending ≥ 7 sessions. No study participants experienced a serious adverse event. DISCUSSION: The feasibility criteria of recruitment, outcome completion, and intervention retention were broadly achieved, indicating that imagery-focused interventions for bipolar disorder are worthy of further investigation.