Telehealth Social Rhythm Therapy to Reduce Mood Symptoms and Suicide Risk Among Adolescents and Young Adults With Bipolar Disorder
Sankar A., Panchal P., Goldman DA., Colic L., Villa LM., Kim JA., Lebowitz ER., Carrubba E., Lecza B., Silverman WK., Swartz HA., Blumberg HP.
OBJECTIVE: Social rhythm irregularities are associated with increased bipolar disorder symptoms and suicide risk. This study was the first to examine the feasibility and acceptability of a 12-week social rhythm therapy (SRT) delivered predominantly via telehealth (three in-person sessions, nine via video teleconferencing) to adolescents and young adults with bipolar disorder. The primary aim was to determine the feasibility and acceptability of SRT delivered predominantly via telehealth. Secondary aims were to explore the intervention's impacts on social rhythm regularity, mood symptoms, and suicide propensity. METHODS: Thirteen adolescents and young adults with bipolar disorder received a modified SRT called Brain Emotion circuitry-targeted Self-Monitoring And Regulation Therapy for Daily Rhythms (BE-SMART-DR) administered mostly remotely, adjunctive to treatment as usual. Retention rates, client satisfaction, therapeutic alliance, and pre- to postintervention changes in social rhythm regularity, mood symptoms, and suicide propensity were assessed. RESULTS: BE-SMART-DR was associated with high retention rates (77%), high mean±SD scores on the Client Satisfaction Questionnaire (29.4±2.7), and high participant global scores on the Working Alliance Inventory (231.3±8.1), indicative of strong therapeutic alliance. Secondary outcome measures on social rhythm irregularities, mood symptoms, and suicide propensity decreased from pre- to posttherapy. Increased social rhythm regularity was associated with reduced suicide propensity after analyses were controlled for reductions in mood symptoms. CONCLUSIONS: These preliminary results indicate that SRT delivered largely by telemedicine is feasible and acceptable. The intervention appeared to reduce mood symptoms, and suicide propensity independent of mood symptoms, among adolescents and young adults with bipolar disorder.