A multi-center naturalistic study of a newly designed 12-sessions group psychoeducation program for patients with bipolar disorder and their caregivers

the Task Force Psychotherapy of the Dutch Foundation for Bipolar Disorders

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Background: Psychoeducation (PE) for bipolar disorder (BD) has a first-line recommendation for the maintenance treatment phase of BD. Formats vary greatly in the number of sessions, whether offered individually or in a group, and with or without caregivers attending. Due to a large variation in formats in the Netherlands, a new program was developed and implemented in 17 outpatient clinics throughout the country. The current study investigated the feasibility of a newly developed 12-sessions PE group program for patients with BD and their caregivers in routine outpatient practice and additionally explored its effectiveness. Methods: Participants in the study were 108 patients diagnosed with BD, 88 caregivers and 35 course leaders. Feasibility and acceptance of the program were investigated by measures of attendance, and evaluative questionnaires after session 12. Preliminary treatment effects were investigated by pre- and post-measures on mood symptoms, attitudes towards BD and its treatment, levels of self-management, and levels of expressed emotion. Results: There was a high degree of satisfaction with the current program as reported by patients, caregivers, and course leaders. The average attendance was high and 83% of the patients and 75% of the caregivers completed the program. Analyses of treatment effects suggest positive effects on depressive symptoms and self-management in patients, and lower EE as experienced by caregivers. Conclusions: This compact 12-sessions psychoeducation group program showed good feasibility and was well accepted by patients, caregivers, and course leaders. Preliminary effects on measures of self-management, expressed emotions, and depressive symptoms were promising. After its introduction it has been widely implemented in mental health institutions throughout the Netherlands.

Original languageEnglish
Article number26
JournalInternational Journal of Bipolar Disorders
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020

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