Reduced educational attainment in bipolar disorder

J Affect Disord. 2006 Jun;92(2-3):309-12. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2006.01.025. Epub 2006 Mar 9.


Objective: To document educational attainment in relation to IQ in patients with bipolar disorder, in order to establish guidelines for matching patients with appropriate comparison subjects.

Method: 60 adult patients with bipolar disorder were compared to 60 demographically matched healthy subjects on IQ measures and educational attainment.

Results: Despite comparable IQ levels, patients with bipolar disorder completed fewer years of education than controls. Although over 60% of both groups entered college, only 16% of bipolar patients received a college degree. In contrast 47% of the comparison sample completed college. Educational attainment did not differ between subgroups of patients with earlier vs. later illness onset, nor as a function of comorbid substance abuse.

Limitations: Other comorbidities, such as anxiety disorders or sub-clinical symptomatology prior to illness onset, were not assessed.

Conclusions: Educational attainment is disrupted in bipolar disorder, and thus should not be used for matching patients and comparison subjects. Reduced educational attainment may contribute to later functional disability in this illness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Achievement*
  • Adult
  • Bipolar Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Bipolar Disorder / psychology*
  • Comorbidity
  • Educational Status*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology