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Research Study on Bipolar Disorder in Children and Teens

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Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy for Bipolar Disorder

Seattle Children's and the Seattle Children’s Research Institute conducted a research study to learn more about a new form of psychotherapy called Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy. This therapy may help teens who are coping with bipolar disorder. Here are some questions that were frequently asked about this past study, which is currently not enrolling participants.

Who can take part in this research study?

Children and teens 12 to 19 years old who have been told by a doctor or therapist that they have bipolar disorder (or who are showing symptoms of bipolar disorder) can take part in this research study.

What is involved in this research study?

Teenagers who take part in the study will come for a psychiatric evaluation at the beginning of the study. Then, if they qualify, they will be assigned to one of two treatment plans:

  • Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy (IPSRT)
  • Treatment as usual (TAU)

Your teen's treatment-plan assignment will be based on chance (random).

Teenagers in the IPSRT group will be asked to come to therapy sessions at Seattle Children’s Hospital once a week for 16 weeks. The sessions will last about one hour each. After 16 weeks, there will be two more sessions every other week. The sessions will be videotaped.

Teenagers in the TAU group will be referred to a mental-health provider in the community or at Children’s for usual care treatment.

We will give both groups educational information about bipolar disorder and its treatment. Every four weeks for 20 weeks, and at three and six months later, we will also interview the teens and ask them to answer some written questions.

What are the benefits of taking part in this research study?

The psychiatric evaluation at the beginning of the study is provided free of charge. Psychotherapy will also be provided free of charge to teens in the IPSRT group. Volunteers in both groups will get $40 for the first visit, the week 20 visit, and the six-month visit. We will also give teens $15 for each of the monthly visits and the three-month visit.

If your teen takes part in this study, there may or may not be direct medical benefit to them. However, teens who enroll will receive careful monitoring and we will give them information about bipolar disorder and possible treatment options. This study may also help us learn to better care for other children and teens with bipolar disorder.

How much time will it take to take part in this research study?

For teens in the IPSRT group, each therapy session will take about one hour. Interviews and evaluations will vary in the amount of time they take to complete. Interviews and evaluations at the first visit, the week 20 visit, and the six-month visit will take one to three hours to finish. Interviews at the monthly visits and the three-month visit will take 30 to 45 minutes. 

Why is this research study important?

This study is important because bipolar disorder has a large effect on how teens function at school, in their families and in other social settings. Plus, bipolar disorder is also a risk factor for alcohol and drug abuse and suicide. Yet "talk therapy" options for teens with bipolar disorder have not been well researched. New forms of treatment, such as Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy, are needed to help treat more teens with bipolar disorder.

Who is funding this research study?

This study is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Where does the research study take place?

All study interviews and treatment sessions will take place at Seattle Children’s.

How many teens will take part in this research study?

Thirty-six (36) teens will take part in this research study (24 in the IPSRT group and 12 in the TAU group).

Whom can I contact for more information about this past study?

Please note that this study is currently not enrolling participants. For more information, please contact our research assistant, Amber Sand, at 206-987-1815.

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