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J Affect Disord. 2012 Dec 15;142(1-3):98-105. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2012.04.007. Epub 2012 Aug 2.

Effects of adjunctive peer support on perceptions of illness control and understanding in an online psychoeducation program for bipolar disorder: a randomised controlled trial.

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School of Psychiatry, University of NSW and Black Dog Institute, Hospital Road, Prince of Wales Hospital, Randwick, NSW 2031, Australia.



To examine the comparative effectiveness of an online psychoeducation program for people diagnosed with bipolar disorder within the previous 12 months, completed alone or with adjunctive peer support, on symptoms and perceived control over the illness.


Participants were randomly allocated to an eight-week online psychoeducation program (n=139), a psychoeducation program plus online peer support (n=134) or an attentional control condition (n=134).


Increased perceptions of control, decreased perceptions of stigmatisation and significant improvements in levels of anxiety and depression, from pre- to post-intervention were found across all groups. There were no significant differences between groups on outcome measures, although a small clinical difference was found between the supported and unsupported conditions in depression symptoms and in functional impairment at the six-month follow-up. Adherence to the treatment program was significantly higher in the supported intervention than in the unsupported program. Gender and age were also significant predictors of adherence, with females and those over the age of 30 showing greater adherence.


Mood state at study entry was measured by self-report rather than by clinical interview.


The pattern of outcomes suggests a primary influence of non-specific or common therapeutic factors across all three intervention groups. A personally tailored intervention may be more suitable for individuals recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and longer term coaching may increase program adherence and long-term improvement in symptoms and functioning.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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