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Curr Med Res Opin. 2004;20(2):139-54.

A systematic review evaluating health-related quality of life, work impairment, and healthcare costs and utilization in bipolar disorder.

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  • 1Zynx Health, a Cerner Company, Beverly Hills, California, USA.



Bipolar disorder greatly impacts health-related quality of life (HRQoL), physical and social functioning, employment, and work productivity, and greatly increases health-care utilization and costs. Our objective was to characterize how bipolar disorder impacts HRQoL, work impairment, and health-care utilization and costs.


A systematic literature review was conducted to identify bipolar disorder studies of HRQoL, functioning, work impairment, and health-care utilization and costs. We searched Medline, ClinPSYC, and HealthSTAR for English-language articles published between January 1985 and November 2002 using MeSH headings and keywords. Additional articles were identified from references of relevant articles.


We identified 65 HRQoL articles, 14 work-impairment articles, and 28 utilization-and-care-cost articles. For all HRQoL instruments used, bipolar disorder patients' HRQoL was rated similarly to that of unipolar depression patients, and equal to or lower compared with patients with other chronic nonmental illnesses. Current treatments have been shown to improve HRQoL and physical and social functioning; some data indicate that management may improve selfreported work impairment and absenteeism. Bipolar disorder patients have been found to utilize health-care services more than do patients with depression or chronic medical conditions. Inpatient costs are the largest cost contributor; treatment to prevent recurrence has been shown to be the most effective way to reduce costs.


Bipolar disorder imposes a tremendous burden on patients and the health-care system, resulting in decreased HRQoL and increased medical and work impairment costs. Limited data suggest that appropriate management can improve HRQoL and functioning while reducing utilization and cost.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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