Impact of bipolar disorder: Results from a screening study

Paul Stang*, Cathy Frank, Marianne Ulcickas Yood, Karen Wells, Steven Burch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Objective: To characterize the extent and impact of bipolar I and II disorders and rapid cycling in a managed care population using both coded diagnostic claims and clinical screening. Method: The Mood Disorder Questionnaire (MDQ) was used to identify bipolar disorder among patients attending the psychiatry service of a large Midwestern health system. Suicidal ideation screening questions were also asked, along with a brief set of relevant history and medication questions. Patients scoring positive on the MDQ or identified as bipolar-positive according to DSM-IV criteria by the screening clinician were administered the Work and Social Adjustment Scale and an Employment questionnaire. Descriptive statistics were used to summarize results. The study was conducted from July 2004 to November 2004. Results: Seventy (6.4%) of 1087 patients had bipolar disorder, 59 of whom completed the entire study. For these patients, the mean time with bipolar disorder was 9.3 (SD 10.2) years. The mean length of the current episode was 10.4 (SD 14.4) weeks, with 22% of patients experiencing a mixed episode, 5% manic-predominant, 12% hypomanic-predominant, and 46% a depressive-predominant episode. Twenty-four percent of patients with bipolar disorder were rapid cycling at the time of their visit; for 5 of these patients, rapid cycling was thought to be related to antidepressant use. Sixty-one percent of patients with bipolar disorder were taking an antidepressant; 69.5% were taking a mood stabilizer. Of these patients with bipolar disorder, 19% were evaluated as high suicidality risk, while 47% were considered moderate risk. Bipolar disorder patients reported problems with employment/employability and social adjustment. About one quarter of these patients ranked problems with family and relationships as marked or severe. Fifty percent of these bipolar disorder patients reported missing at least 1 week of work during the past month; 41% reported fearing the loss of their current job due to their emotional state; and 20% reported being fired/laid off during the past 5 years due to their emotional state. Conclusions: This research documents some of the clinical features and social and labor-force impact of bipolar disorder in a managed care population and adds several dimensions to data published to date. Fully two thirds of our study subjects with bipolar disorder were found to be at substantial risk of suicide, and bipolar disorder patients in this study reported substantial problems with employment/ employability and social functioning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)42-47
Number of pages6
JournalPrimary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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