Validity of the WHIPLASHED as a tool to identify bipolar disorder in women

Dana R. Mahmoud*, Amy Yang, Jody Dyan Ciolino, Sheehan David Fisher, Dorothy Sit, Emily Pinheiro, Tricia Pendergrast, Kelly O'Shea, Katherine Leah Wisner, Crystal T Clark

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: : The aim of this study was to investigate the validity of the WHIPLASHED clinician-administered interview, a mnemonic of questions on clinical factors and illness course used to screen for bipolar disorder, as a self-report questionnaire. Methods: : Participants (n = 82) were females recruited from an outpatient academic women's mental health clinic. Relevant symptom data were extracted from a self-report questionnaire designed to parallel the WHIPLASHED interview questions. A score of ≥5 on WHIPLASHED was defined as a positive screen for bipolar spectrum disorder by its developer. We examined the capacity of self-reported WHIPLASHED scores ≥5 to differentiate bipolar from unipolar depression in women. Diagnostic assessments were conducted with the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview. Results: : Women were diagnosed with unipolar (n = 54) and bipolar (n = 28) depression. The majority of subjects were white (67%), employed (68%) and married (57%) with a mean age of 36.8 years. The receiver operating characteristic curve demonstrated that WHIPLASHED had strong predictive ability (AUC = 0.877) in differentiating bipolar from unipolar depression. A cutoff score of ≥5 generated 96% sensitivity and 52% specificity, while raising the threshold to 6 generated 89% sensitivity and 76% specificity for a bipolar disorder diagnosis. Limitations: : Our sample was small and composed of female patients at a single treatment center. Conclusions: : In this sample, WHIPLASHED was a valid screening tool to differentiate bipolar from unipolar depression. While existing instruments focus on primary symptoms of bipolar disorder, the WHIPLASHED is useful in exploring subtypes of bipolar disorder in which depression dominates the clinical course.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-73
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019


  • Bipolar depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • MDQ
  • Mania
  • Manic-depressive
  • Screening for bipolar disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology


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