The nationwide study – to be funded over four years by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) – will compare the outcomes of nine commonly prescribed drugs used to treat bipolar disorder, a lifetime mental illness that causes acute episodes of mania and depression. About six million Americans suffer from the condition.
Over the next four years researchers will analyze de-identified electronic health records of more than a million Americans with bipolar disorder, reviewing their treatments and outcomes over the last decade. “We are going to take real world data and understand how people respond in the context of their conditions,” says Christophe Lambert, PhD, the study’s principal investigator and an associate professor at the UNM Center for Global Health in the UNM School of Medicine’s Department of Internal Medicine. “The comprehensiveness of this study is unprecedented.”
Some of the treatment outcomes under analysis include frequency of hospitalization, suicide attempts and self-harm, mood episodes and residual symptoms, risk of drug-induced adverse effects and all-cause mortality.
A unique component of the study includes bipolar disorder patients and patient advocacy groups, including the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Montana, NAMI New Mexico and NAMI Westside Los Angeles. They are collaborating within a multidisciplinary team of clinicians, researchers, computer scientists and statisticians.
“The study is especially valuable because it will utilize the insights of the medical challenges faced by people who live with bipolar disorder in the rural states of New Mexico and Montana,” says Matt Kuntz, executive director of NAMI Montana. “The complex difficulty of obtaining medical care in rural or frontier states is often not considered in major research studies.”
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