Among adults in the US, bipolar disorder affects 2.6% or 5.7 million individuals; 83% of cases are considered to be severe. Even when an accurate diagnosis of bipolar disorder is established, its treatment remains suboptimal, and those with the disorder often fail to receive any care or evidence‐based care.
A continuing medical education (CME)-certified 25-item, multiple choice clinical practice assessment survey was developed to assess recognition and treatment of bipolar disorder, specifically, the use of LAIs in these patients.
The survey included knowledge- and case-based multiple-choice questions completed confidentially online. The survey was launched on December 20, 2017 and hosted on the Medscape Education website. Participant responses were collected through January 31, 2018. Confidentiality was maintained, and responses were de-identified and aggregated before analyses.
(n=1123 psychiatrists; 305 primary care physicians [PCPs]):
- When asked about assessment tools in bipolar disorder, only 43% of psychiatrists and 36% of PCPs could identify the correct use of the MDQ screening instrument, while only 64% of psychiatrists and 51% of PCPs knew that the use of the MDQ can improve recognition of bipolar disorder in patients with depression;
- Psychiatrists were more likely to correctly identify the symptoms that most strongly support a diagnosis of bipolar disorder compared to PCPs (76% vs 43%, respectively);
- When asked about laboratory testing in mood disorders, 52% of psychiatrists and 46% of PCPs knew that laboratory testing can help exclude alternative causes for mood symptoms;
- The majority of both healthcare professionals (73%–75%) did not know that diagnosis of bipolar I disorder relies heavily on changes in activity, energy, and mood;
- 87% of psychiatrists and 76% of PCPs did not identify oral aripiprazole as the only SGA not approved by the FDA for the maintenance treatment of bipolar I disorder;
- 49% of PCPs did not recognize lithium as the first choice for maintenance monotherapy for bipolar I disorder according to the guidelines;
- Only 19% of psychiatrists and 20% of PCPs correctly chose aripiprazole monohydrate and risperidone microspheres as the LAI SGAs indicated for use as monotherapy for patients with bipolar I disorder;
- When asked what is the most common barrier to prescribing LAI antipsychotics in patients with bipolar disorder, 34% of psychiatrists selected “Patients fear of injectables”
This educational research identified psychiatrists and PCPs’ current real-world clinical practices and gaps in the knowledge and competence in the diagnosis and assessment of bipolar disorder, and the treatment options for this condition. Further educational efforts tailored to address identified gaps for each audience are warranted.