Patterns of Psychotropic Medication Use by Race Among Veterans with Bipolar Disorder

Published in: Psychiatric Services, v. 57, no. 1, Jan. 2006, p. 123-126

Posted on on January 01, 2006

by Amy Kilbourne, Harold Alan Pincus

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OBJECTIVE: This study investigated whether race was associated with patterns of psychotropic medication use among veterans with bipolar disorder. METHODS: Data were examined for veterans from the mid-Atlantic region with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder in fiscal year 2001. Prescription data determined whether differences existed between black and nonblack patients in the receipt of lithium, other mood stabilizers, all mood stabilizers, first-generation antipsychotics, second-generation antipsychotics, all antipsychotics, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), tricyclic antidepressants, all antidepressants, and benzodiaze-pines. RESULTS: Data for 2,958 patients were sampled: 347 blacks and 2,611 nonblacks. Multivariable analyses that adjusted for patient and clinical factors revealed that compared with nonblacks, blacks were significantly less likely to receive lithium and SSRIs and significantly more likely to receive first-generation antipsychotics and any antipsychotic. CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that efforts should be made to reduce disparities in access to pharmacotherapy among patients with bipolar disorder.

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