Psychotropic polypharmacy in the treatment of bipolar disorder has proliferated. Yet evidence about the prevalence and predictors of different combinations of polypharmacy in inpatient settings is scarce.
The Nationwide Psychiatric Inpatient Medical Claims (2000–2007) in Taiwan were used to examine prescriptions for mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and antidepressants among recently discharged patients with bipolar disorder (N=5,449; 51% women, mean±SD age=36.8±12.4).
A total of 71% of prescriptions involved between-class polypharmacy, and 17% involved within-class polypharmacy. Patients older than 50 and patients at medical centers (>500 beds) were less likely to receive polypharmacy. Lower prescribed doses predicted polypharmacy. Receiving polypharmacy was not associated with a higher rate of readmission within one year.
There was substantial use of various forms of polypharmacy in the treatment of inpatients with bipolar disorder. Randomized studies should be used to compare the cost-effectiveness of common psychotropic combinations and monotherapy to treat bipolar disorder.