What is it about?

We wanted to improve access to psychological treatment for people with bipolar disorder. Two different types of online treatments were compared in terms of their impact on quality of life. Disappointingly, neither treatment - one based on a traditional medical approach to bipolar disorder, one more transdiagnostic focusing on mindfulness and acceptance - improved quality of life. We unpack this negative finding, and emphasise that a subgroup of participants- those with significant depression at baseline showed large and sustained benefits in quality of life irrespective of the treatment they received.

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Why is it important?

The most important finding of this large international trial was that online delivery of psychological treatment (including potentially challenging strategies like meditation, self-compassion and body scans) can be safely delivered remotely. People in our trial only needed to speak English, and we recruited from dozens of countries with very different health infrastructures. The interventions were also both very acceptable to participants - around 90% of participants said the interventions were helpful and that they would recommend them to others with bipolar disorder.


I remain disappointed that we did not 'discover' a cheap, effective and readily disseminated psychological intervention for people with bipolar disorder. I was gratified that, when we contacted participants to tell them the findings, they remained strongly committed to helping us build better online interventions. Participants reminded us that bipolar disorder is a complex, lifelong problem: they appreciated our efforts and wanted to be involved with us in the next steps. I think we're at the bottom of a hill, and we're prepared to climb patiently.

Swinburne University of Technology

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Mindfulness-based online intervention to improve quality of life in late-stage bipolar disorder: A randomized clinical trial., Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, October 2021, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/ccp0000684.
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