Enhancing quality of life among adolescents with bipolar disorder: A randomized trial of two psychosocial interventions.
O'Donnell LA., Axelson DA., Kowatch RA., Schneck CD., Sugar CA., Miklowitz DJ.
BACKGROUND: Adolescents with bipolar disorder (BD) report lower quality of life (QoL) than adolescents with other psychiatric disorders. This study compared the efficacy of family-focused therapy for adolescents (FFT-A) plus pharmacotherapy to brief psychoeducation (enhanced care, or EC) plus pharmacotherapy on self-rated QoL in adolescents with BD over 2 years. METHODS: Participants were 141 adolescents (mean age: 15.6±1.4yr) with BD I or II who had a mood episode in the previous 3 months. Adolescents and parents were randomly assigned to (1) FFT-A, given in 21 sessions in 9 months of psychoeducation, communication enhancement training, and problem-solving skills training, or (2) EC, given in 3 family psychoeducation sessions. Study psychiatrists provided patient participants with protocol-based pharmacotherapy for the duration of the study. QoL was assessed with The KINDLRQuestionnaire (Ravens-Sieberer and Bullinger, 1998) during active treatment (baseline to 9 months) and during a post-treatment follow-up (9-24 months). RESULTS: The two treatment groups did not differ in overall QoL scores over 24 months. However, adolescents in FFT-A had greater improvements in quality of family relationships and physical well-being than participants in EC. For quality of friendships, the trajectory during active treatment favored EC, whereas the trajectory during post-treatment favored FFT-A. LIMITATIONS: We were unable to standardize medication use or adherence over time. Quality of life was based on self-report rather than on observable functioning. CONCLUSIONS: A short course of family psychoeducation and skills training may enhance relational functioning and health in adolescents with BD. The effects of different psychosocial interventions on peer relationships deserves further study.