The impact of guideline concordance on naturalistic maintenance treatment outcomes in BD is not known. We sought to evaluate the effect of guideline-concordant care on symptomatic, course and functional outcomes in youth with early-stage BD-I.
In this file audit study, we examined the prospective course of 64 clients with first treatment seeking manic episode of BD-I. Eighteen-month outcome measures included Clinical Global Impressions Scale – Bipolar Version (CGI-BP), Social and Occupational Functioning Assessment Scale (SOFAS) and number of relapses. Correlations and hierarchical linear regressions were used to examine the relationships between guideline concordance and outcomes, while controlling for potential confounders.
Although higher guideline-concordant care in the maintenance phase was associated with a higher discharge CGI-BP score and thus worse outcome, baseline CGI-BP and insight were more predictive of illness severity at follow-up than guideline concordance. There was no association with SOFAS and guideline-concordant care at follow-up. Greater concordance with maintenance medication guideline statements was also associated with greater number of relapses even after controlling for sex, medication adherence, duration of care and baseline illness severity.
This study was limited by sample size and its single pool of clients which may limit generalizability.
Contrary to our hypotheses, higher guideline concordance was associated with worse outcomes, although this relationship was moderated by the client’s illness characteristics, severity and insight. More unwell youth with poor insight, greater severity, and mixed/rapid cycling features may need other interventions or modified guidelines.

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