Mood stabilizers and antipsychotics are the main maintenance treatments for bipolar disorder. Lithium is considered to be the most effective mood stabilizer, but very little is known about overall health outcomes associated with specific treatments and the comparative long-term effectiveness of specific psychotropics or routes of administration in the prevention of rehospitalizations.Objective
To study the comparative effectiveness of pharmacologic treatments in the prevention of rehospitalization in a nationwide cohort of patients with bipolar disorder.Design, Setting, and Participants
This cohort study examined the risk of psychiatric, cardiovascular, and all-cause hospitalization from January 1, 1987, to December 31, 2012, among all patients in Finland who had been hospitalized for bipolar disorder (N = 18 018; mean follow-up time, 7.2 years) using prospectively gathered nationwide databases for hospitalization and dispensed medications. The primary analysis was within-individual analysis, in which each individual was used as his or her own control to eliminate selection bias. The study adjusted for the effect of concomitant psychotropic medications, duration of illness, and the temporal orders of exposure and nonexposure periods. Statistical analysis was conducted from January 1, 1996, to December 31, 2012.Main Outcomes and Measures
Adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) for rehospitalization were calculated.Results
Among the cohort (9558 women and 8460 men; mean [SD] age, 46.6 [17.0] years), 9721 patients (54.0%) had at least 1 psychiatric rehospitalization. In comparison between use and no use among specific agents reaching nominal statistical significance, risperidone long-acting injection (HR, 0.58 [95% CI, 0.34-1.00]), gabapentin (HR, 0.58 [95% CI, 0.44-0.77]), perphenazine long-acting injection (HR, 0.60 [95% CI, 0.41-0.88]), and lithium carbonate (HR, 0.67 [95% CI, 0.60-0.73]) were associated with the lowest risk of psychiatric rehospitalization. Concerning all-cause hospitalization, lithium (HR, 0.71 [95% CI, 0.66-0.76]) was associated with the lowest risk. The most frequently used antipsychotic treatment, quetiapine fumarate, showed only modest effectiveness (risk of psychiatric rehospitalization: HR, 0.92 [95% CI, 0.85-0.98]; risk of all-cause hospitalization: HR, 0.93 [95% CI, 0.88-0.98]). Long-acting injections were associated with substantially better outcomes compared with identical oral antipsychotics (risk of psychiatric rehospitalization: HR, 0.70 [95% CI, 0.55-0.90]; risk of all-cause hospitalization: HR, 0.70 [95% CI, 0.57-0.86]). Results from sensitivity analyses showed consistent beneficial effects only for lithium and for long-acting injections compared with their oral counterparts.Conclusions and Relevance
Lithium was the most effective mood stabilizer, and long-acting injections the most effective antipsychotics, in preventing hospitalization due to mental or physical illness.