A Systematic Review and Critical Appraisal of Economic Evaluations of Pharmacological Interventions for People with Bipolar Disorder

02.03.2017 13:16


Bipolar disorder (BD) is a chronic mood disorder that causes substantial psychological and financial burden. Various pharmacological treatments are effective in the management and prevention of acute episodes of BD. In an era of tighter healthcare budgets and a need for more efficient use of resources, several economic evaluations have evaluated the cost effectiveness of treatments for BD.


The aim of this study was to systematically review and appraise published economic evaluations of pharmacological interventions for BD.


A systematic search combining search terms specific to BD with a health economics search filter was conducted on six bibliographic databases (EMBASE, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, HTA, NHS EED, CENTRAL) in order to identify trial- or model-based full economic evaluations of pharmacological treatments of any phase of the disorder that were published between 1 January 1990 and 18 December 2015. Studies that met the inclusion criteria were critically appraised using the Quality of Health Economic Studies (QHES) checklist, and synthesised in a narrative way.


The review included 19 economic studies, which varied with regard to the type and number of interventions assessed, the study design, the phase of treatment (acute or maintenance), the source of efficacy data and the method for evidence synthesis, the outcome measures, the time horizon and the countries/settings in which the studies were conducted. The study quality was variable but the majority of studies were of high or fair quality.


Pharmacological interventions are cost effective, compared with no treatment, in the management of BD, both in the acute and maintenance phases. However, it is difficult to draw safe conclusions on the relative cost effectiveness between drugs due to differences across studies and limitations characterising many of them. Future economic evaluations need to consider the whole range of treatment options available for the management of BD and adopt appropriate methods for evidence synthesis and economic modelling, to explore more robustly the relative cost effectiveness of pharmacological interventions for people with BD.


Authors: Mavranezouli I, Lokkerbol J.

Reference: PharmacoEconomics

, Volume 35, Issue 3, pp 271–296