Monitoring of patients treated with lithium for bipolar disorder: an international survey

M. Nederlof, E. R. Heerdink, A. C. G. Egberts, I. Wilting, L. J. Stoker, R. Hoekstra, R. W. Kupka

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Abstract

Background: Adequate monitoring of patients using lithium is needed for optimal dosing and for early identification of patients with (potential) ADEs. The objective was to internationally assess how health care professionals monitor patients treated with lithium for bipolar disorder. Methods: Using networks of various professional organizations, an anonymous online survey was conducted among health care professionals prescribing lithium. Target lithium serum levels and frequency of monitoring was assessed together with monitoring of physical and laboratory parameters. Reasons to and not to monitor and use of guidelines and institutional protocols, and local monitoring systems were investigated. Results: The survey was completed by 117 health care professionals incorporating responses from twenty-four countries. All prescribers reported to monitor lithium serum levels on a regular basis, with varying target ranges. Almost all (> 97%) monitored thyroid and renal function before start and during maintenance treatment. Reported monitoring of other laboratory and physical parameters was variable. The majority of respondents (74%) used guidelines or institutional protocols for monitoring. In general, the prescriber was responsible for monitoring, had to request every monitoring parameter separately and only a minority of patients was automatically invited. Conclusions: Lithium serum levels, renal and thyroid function were monitored by (almost) all physicians. However, there was considerable variation in other monitoring parameters. Our results help to understand why prescribers of lithium monitor patients and what their main reasons are not to monitor patients using lithium.
Original languageEnglish
Article number12
JournalInternational Journal of Bipolar Disorders
Volume6
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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