Prevalence of bipolar disorder diagnoses and psychotropic drug therapy among privately insured children and adolescents

Stacie B. Dusetzina, Morris Weinberger, Bradley N. Gaynes, Joel F. Farley, Betsy Sleath, Richard A. Hansen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Study Objectives. To estimate the treated prevalence of bipolar disorder in a privately insured population, describe the characteristics of children and adolescents receiving these diagnoses, and describe patterns of their psychotropic drug therapy. Design. Retrospective, repeated cross-sectional study. Data Source. MarketScan Commercial Claims and Encounters inpatient, outpatient, and pharmacy claims databases. Patients. A total of 22,360 children and adolescents (aged 0-17 yrs) with one inpatient or two or more outpatient claims for any bipolar spectrum disorder between January 1, 2005, and December 31, 2007. Measurements and Main Results. Annual cross-sections were used to estimate the treated prevalence of bipolar disorder diagnoses, patient characteristics, and psychotropic drugs used 30 days after a child's latest recorded bipolar disorder diagnosis within each year. The annual treated prevalence of any bipolar spectrum disorder in this privately insured population was 0.24% in 2005 and 0.26% in 2006 and 2007. Approximately 25% of diagnoses were for children younger than 13 years. Approximately 30% of children had coexisting attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder during the year. In each year, 35% of patients used no psychotropic drug therapy in the 30-day period after their most recent diagnosis. Twenty-five percent used one psychotropic drug, and 40% used two or more drugs. The most common drug regimens were antipsychotic or mood stabilizer (lithium or anticonvulsant) monotherapy and the combination of mood stabilizers and antipsychotics. Conclusion. Drug therapy patterns suggest that children and adolescents with bipolar diagnoses receive complex treatment regimens, often involving multiple classes of psychotropic drugs. Research on treatment combinations, particularly antipsychotic and mood stabilizer combinations, should be prioritized to better understand the safety and effectiveness of commonly prescribed treatments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1085-1094
Number of pages10
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2012


  • Pediatric bipolar
  • Pharmacoepidemiology
  • Pharmacotherapy
  • Prevalence


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