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Open Access Research article

The management of bipolar mania: a national survey of baseline data from the EMBLEM study in Italy

Cesario Bellantuono1*, Alessandra Barraco2, Andrea Rossi2 and Iris Goetz3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Medicine and Public Health, Section of Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology, University of Verona, Italy

2 Eli Lilly Italia S.p.A, Italy

3 Eli Lilly and Company, Windlesham, UK

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BMC Psychiatry 2007, 7:33  doi:10.1186/1471-244X-7-33

Published: 19 July 2007

Abstract

Background

Although a number of studies have assessed the management of mania in routine clinical practice, no studies have so far evaluated the short- and long-term management and outcome of patients affected by bipolar mania in different European countries.

The objective of the study is to present, in the context of a large multicenter survey (EMBLEM study), an overview of the baseline data on the acute management of a representative sample of manic bipolar patients treated in the Italian psychiatric hospital and community settings. EMBLEM is a 2-year observational longitudinal study that evaluates across 14 European countries the patterns of the drug prescribed in patients with bipolar mania, their socio-demographic and clinical features and the outcomes of the treatment.

Methods

The study consists of a 12-week acute phase and a ≤ 24-month maintenance phase. Bipolar patients were included into the study as in- or out-patients, if they initiated or changed, according to the decision of their psychiatrist, oral antipsychotics, anticonvulsants and/or lithium for the treatment of an episode of mania.

Data concerning socio-demographic characteristics, psychiatric and medical history, severity of mania, prescribed medications, functional status and quality of life were collected at baseline and during the follow-up period.

Results

In Italy, 563 patients were recruited in 56 sites: 376 were outpatients and 187 inpatients. The mean age was 45.8 years. The mean CGI-BP was 4.4 (± 0.9) for overall score and mania, 1.9 (± 1.2) for depression and 2.6 (± 1.6) for hallucinations/delusions. The YMRS showed that 14.4% had a total score < 12, 25.1% ≥ 12 and < 20, and 60.5% ≥ 20. At entry, 75 patients (13.7%) were treatment-naïve, 186 (34.1%) were receiving a monotherapy (of which haloperidol [24.2%], valproate [16.7%] and lithium [14.5%] were the most frequently prescribed) while 285 (52.2%) a combined therapy (of which 8.0% were represented by haloperidol/lithium combinations). After a switch to an oral medication, 137 patients (24.8%) were prescribed a monotherapy while the rest (415, 75.2%) received a combination of drugs.

Conclusion

Data collected at baseline in the Italian cohort of the EMBLEM study represent a relevant source of information to start addressing the short and long-term therapeutic strategies for improving the clinical as well as the socio-economic outcomes of patients affected by bipolar mania. Although it's not an epidemiological investigation and has some limitations, the results show several interesting findings as a relatively late age of onset of bipolar disorder, a low rate of past suicide attempts, a low lifetime rate of alcohol abuse and drug addiction.