Conceptual and methodological issues in designing a randomized, controlled treatment trial for geriatric bipolar disorder: GERI-BD

Institute of Geriatric Psychiatry, Weill Cornell Medical College, White Plains, NY 10605, USA.
Bipolar Disorders (Impact Factor: 4.97). 02/2010; 12(1):56-67. DOI: 10.1111/j.1399-5618.2009.00779.x
Source: PubMed


This report considers the conceptual and methodological concerns confronting clinical investigators seeking to generate knowledge regarding the tolerability and benefits of pharmacotherapy in geriatric bipolar disorder (BD) patients.
There is continuing need for evidence-based guidelines derived from randomized controlled trials that will enhance drug treatment of geriatric BD patients. Therefore, we present the complex conceptual and methodological choices encountered in designing a multisite clinical trial and the decisions reached by the investigators with the intention that study findings be pertinent to, and can facilitate, routine treatment decisions.
Guided by a literature review and input from peers, the tolerability and antimanic effects of lithium and valproate were judged to be the key mood stabilizers to investigate with regard to treating bipolar I disorder manic, mixed, and hypomanic states. The patient selection criteria are intended to generate a sample that not only experiences common treatment needs but also represents the variety of older patients seen in university-based clinical settings. The clinical protocol guides titration of lithium and valproate to target serum concentrations, with lower levels allowed when necessitated by limited tolerability. The protocol emphasizes initial monotherapy. However, augmentation with risperidone is permitted after three weeks when indicated by operational criteria.
A randomized, controlled trial that both investigates commonly prescribed mood stabilizers and maximizes patient participation can meaningfully address high-priority clinical concerns directly relevant to the routine pharmacologic treatment of geriatric BD patients.

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