Background: In recent years, several controlled studies could show that psychoeducational interventions have been effective for relapse prevention in bipolar disorders. We therefore established a cognitive-psychoeducational group intervention with 14 sessions providing information about the illness, early warning signs, cognitive and behavioural strategies for stress management and social rhythm. Additionally we offered a group intervention for the patients' relatives. The objective of this study was to describe the outcome associated with our psychoeducational intervention in bipolar patients and their relatives.
Methods: Sixty-two bipolar patients attended 14 sessions (à 90 min) of cognitive-psychoeducational group therapy. Patients' knowledge of bipolar disorder and their satisfaction with the treatment were assessed using self-developed questionnaires before and after the group intervention. Additionally, 49 relatives of bipolar patients received two psychoeducational workshops of 4 hours each. We assessed demographic variables, burden, high expressed emotion and depressive symptoms of the relatives before and after the two workshops and at 1-year follow-up.
Results: Patients significantly improved their knowledge of bipolar disorder. They also have benefited from the discussions and the exchange of useful coping strategies. Burden and high expressed emotions showed no significant reductions at post-assessment, however they were significantly reduced at 1-year follow-up. Relatives also felt significantly better informed about the illness.
Conclusions: These findings show that psychoeducational interventions in bipolar patients and their relatives improve patients' and their relatives' knowledge of the illness and the burden of the disorder as well as high expressed emotions are reduced in relatives at 1-year follow-up.