Complexity and continuity of treatments among privately insured youth diagnosed with bipolar disorder

Sara Evans-Lacko, Anne W. Riley, Susan dos Reis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objectives: To examine longitudinal patterns of complexity, continuity, and initiation of treatment for youth diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Additionally, we explore bipolar diagnosis stability and its relationship to observed treatment patterns. Methods: A cohort of 426 privately insured youth (ages 6-18) diagnosed with bipolar disorder was identified from the 2000-2001 Thomson/Medstat-MarketScan® database. Medication complexity was defined as number of different psychotropic medication classes dispensed during a 6-month period following a new treatment episode of bipolar disorder. Treatment continuity was examined over a 6-month follow-up period, specifically focusing on mood stabilizing medications and antidepressant monotherapy. Predictors of complexity and continuity were investigated. Results: Fifty-five percent of youth received more than one and 25% received three or more different types of psychotropic medication classes during follow-up. This was contrasted with several youth having no prescription fills (21%) and 31% discontinuing mood stabilizing medication. Youth with a stable bipolar diagnosis were more likely to have continuity of mood stabilizing prescriptions (OR: 4.05), but also greater psychotropic medication complexity. Age, health status/comorbidity, and being in a managed care plan were also related to complexity and continuity of psychotropic medication class regimens. Conclusions: More evidence is needed on the causal patterns leading to increased psychotropic medication complexity and continuity and how diagnosis of bipolar disorder may drive treatment patterns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberArticle 144
JournalFrontiers in Psychiatry
Issue numberNOV
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescent
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Child psychiatry
  • Children
  • Medication adherence
  • Mood stabilizers
  • Psychotropic drugs
  • antidepressants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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