Screening for bipolar disorder in the primary care: A Brazilian survey
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BACKGROUND: Two recent studies conducted in the US and in France found an unexpectedly high prevalence of a positive screen for bipolar disorder (BD) in primary care (PC). There are few studies of the prevalence of BD in PC and no information exists on the epidemiology of BD in Brazilian PC services. This study investigated the prevalence and correlates of a positive screen for BD among patients attending three Brazilian PC centers. METHODS: This cross-sectional survey recruited a systematic sample of 720 patients between 18 and 70 years of age who were seeking primary care treatment. Study measures included the Mood Disorder Questionnaire, the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale, the World Health Organization Quality of Life instrument-Abbreviated version, the Functional Comorbidity Index, the Functioning Assessment Short Test, data on past mental health care, service utilization and a review of medical records for coded diagnosis. RESULTS: The prevalence of receiving positive screen for BD was 7.6% (n=55; 95% CI: 5.6-9.5%), but only 2 (3.6%) were recognized by general practitioners. A positive screen for BD was associated with significant depressive symptoms (CES-D score ≥16; 70.9%) and more general medical conditions, along with higher primary care utilization. Patients who screened positive for BD reported worse health-related quality of life as well as impaired functioning, compared to those who screened negative. LIMITATIONS: Co-morbid mental disorders were not assessed. The cross-sectional design prevents firm cause-effect inferences. CONCLUSIONS: The prevalence of a positive screening for BD is high, clinically significant and under-recognized in Brazilian PC settings.
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