Number of episodes in bipolar disorder: The case for more thoughtful conceptualisation and measurement.

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Number of episodes in bipolar disorder: The case for more thoughtful conceptualisation and measurement.

Bipolar Disord. 2019 Nov 15;:

Authors: Tremain H, Fletcher K, Murray G

OBJECTIVES: Number of mood episodes (NoE) may be an important prognostic indicator in bipolar disorder, with implications for treatment. However, NoE has been conceptualised and measured inconsistently throughout the literature. This review examines the construct of NoE in bipolar disorder, with the aim of enhancing its conceptualisation and measurement.
METHODS: A critical evaluation of literatures on important correlates of NoE, conceptually and phenomenologically overlapping features, and previous studies considering and measuring this construct was undertaken.
RESULTS: The literature indicates that despite frequent use, NoE has been inconsistently defined and measured. Multiple studies have linked NoE with important clinical factors, including relapse, functioning, cognitive impairment, and the effectiveness of both pharmacological and psychosocial interventions, yet conclusions are limited by its inconsistent treatment. Additionally, it seems evident that that NoE may best be treated as a fuzzy construct (rather than precise figure), with yet to be defined overlaps with clinical variables such as age at onset and severity. Attempts to measure this construct have varied in comprehensiveness and structure.
CONCLUSIONS: The NoE construct may have important implications for individuals with bipolar disorders. However, more consistent and systematic definition and assessment of NoE is required to advance this literature and clarify its role. Recommendations aimed at advancing the conceptualisation and the measurement of NoE are provided. Conceptualisation may be advanced by considering and exploring relationships between NoE and factors with which it overlaps, while measurement may best be improved with increased consistency and balancing accuracy with feasibility.

PMID: 31730294 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]