Delphi survey of maintenance lithium treatment in older adults with bipolar disorder: An ISBD task force report

Kenneth I. Shulman*, Osvaldo P. Almeida, Nathan Herrmann, Ayal Schaffer, Sergio A. Strejilevich, Christina Paternoster, Sean Amodeo, Annemiek Dols, Martha Sajatovic

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objectives: Despite the growing numbers and proportion of older adults with bipolar disorder (OABD), there are very limited guidelines for the use of lithium with its double-edged potential for effectiveness and toxicity in this population. The primary aims of this Delphi survey were: (a) To determine the place of lithium among the preferred choices for maintenance treatment of OABD. (b) To provide detailed clinical guidelines for the safe and effective use of lithium in OABD. Methods: In the face of limited evidence, the Delphi survey method was used to achieve consensus by a group of 25 experts in OABD from nine countries. An oversight committee monitored and analyzed the results of each survey and formulated more focused questions with each subsequent iteration. Results: A 100% response rate was achieved for all three iterations of the survey. Lithium was the preferred choice for maintenance monotherapy in OABD. Serum levels of 0.4-0.8 mmol/L were recommended for ages 60-79 and serum levels of 0.4-0.7 mmol/L were recommended for ages 80 and over. Specific recommendations achieved consensus for second line monotherapy as well as for other drugs to be used in combination with lithium if necessary. Guidelines for routine monitoring of lithium in OABD were provided for laboratory investigations and clinical assessments. Conclusions: Lithium remains the preferred choice for maintenance monotherapy in OABD. Laboratories should report the therapeutic range for serum levels of lithium separately for older adults.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-123
Number of pages7
JournalBipolar Disorders
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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