Preferences of Information Dissemination on Treatment for Bipolar Disorder: Patient-Centered Focus Group Study. Academic Article uri icon


  • Patient education has taken center stage in successfully shared decision making between patients and health care providers. However, little is known about how patients with bipolar disorder typically obtain information on their illness and the treatment options available to them.This study aimed to obtain the perspectives of patients with bipolar disorder and their family members on the preferred and most effectively used information channels on bipolar disorder and the available treatment options.We conducted nine focus groups in Montana, New Mexico, and California, in which we surveyed 84 individuals including patients with bipolar disorder and family members of patients with bipolar disorder. The participants were recruited using National Alliance on Mental Illness mailing lists and websites. Written verbatim responses to semistructured questionnaires were analyzed using summative content analysis based on grounded theory. Two annotators coded and analyzed the data on the sentence or phrase level to create themes. Relationships between demographics and information channel were also examined using the Chi-square and Fisher exact tests.The focus group participants mentioned a broad range of information channels that were successfully used in the past and could be recommended for future information dissemination. The majority of participants used providers (74%) and internet-based resources (75%) as their main information sources. There was no association between internet use and basic demographics such as age or geographical region of the focus groups. Patients considered time constraints and the fast pace in which an overwhelming amount of information is often presented by the provider as major barriers to successful provider-patient interactions. If Web-based channels were used, the participants perceived information obtained through Web-based channels as more helpful than information received in the provider's office (P<.05).Web-based resources are increasingly used by patients with bipolar disorder and their family members to educate themselves about the disease and its treatment. Although provider-patient interactions are frequently perceived to be burdened with time constraints, Web-based information sources are considered reliable and helpful. Future research should explore how high-quality websites could be used to empower patients and improve provider-patient interactions with the goal of enhancing shared decision making between patients and providers.©Berit Kerner, Annette S Crisanti, Jason L DeShaw, Janika-Marie G Ho, Kimmie Jordan, Ronald L Krall, Matt J Kuntz, Aurélien J Mazurie, Anastasiya Nestsiarovich, Douglas J Perkins, Quentin L Schroeter, Alicia N Smith, Mauricio Tohen, Emma Volesky, Yiliang Zhu, Christophe G Lambert. Originally published in JMIR Mental Health (, 25.06.2019.

publication date

  • June 2019