This exciting new research project looks into two group treatments for bipolar disorder called psychoeducation and peer support. Psychoeducation aims to enhance people’s understanding of their disorder. This group follows a set agenda of topics covering education and management techniques. Peer support allows participants to set their own agenda and discuss issues they feel are the most important to them. We will compare these two therapies to see which is the most effective. Participants will be randomly allocated to one of the two groups and will be given the opportunity to receive six months of weekly therapy sessions before being followed up at four monthly intervals over the next 18 months. Some of these follow-ups will be conducted over the telephone to minimise disruption to participant’s lives. This study is part of a major research programme grant which has been awarded by the National Institute for Health Research and is based at Lancaster University.

Main research questions:

  • To demonstrate that such group therapy is feasible and sustainable across different NHS sites
  • To determine that group therapy is clinically and cost effective compared to group support
  • To identify barriers and potential solutions to barriers to the implementation of effective group therapy

Why group therapy?

Group support is popular with people who have bipolar disorder and provides people an opportunity to share experiences and receive support from others with similar experiences. There is evidence that both types of group can improve outcome for people with Bipolar Disorder. Both groups will be run by two therapists and a service user facilitator, providing an opportunity to develop a professional and user-led treatment. If the study is successful this will strengthen the case to make these interventions more widely available in the NHS.