Psychoeducation Trial

Currently, the Spectrum Centre is involved an exciting new research project into two group treatment 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.

Existing groups

Therapy groups are already running in Manchester and Nottingham, with 24 people having been randomized into Manchester, and 25 in Nottingham. Feedback from the groups indicates that both sessions are valued by participants and that they find it useful and enlightening to meet others who have bipolar disorder. As one participant has said; it is ‘light at the end of the bipolar tunnel!’.

How can you help?

Recruitment is in full swing up in Cumbria now, with the first groups scheduled to start in Barrow during March. The research team has been to see community mental health teams, support groups, psychologists and psychiatrists to see if they could refer into the trial, and the study is also being publicised using a poster campaign. Once the groups in Barrow are up and running, recruitment will start in Carlisle for the second set of groups, due to start this September.

  • Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
  • Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust
  • Manchester Mental Health and Social Care NHS Trust
  • Nottinghamshire Health Care NHS Trust

For more information please contact:

Natasha Lyon
Tel: 01228 602173

Kirsten Nokling
Tel: 01524 592297

Heather Robinson
Tel: 0161 276 3328

Georgia Lykomitrou
Tel: 0115 823 1285

Get involved

We welcome interest from individuals who have experienced bipolar mood fluctuations, their relatives, friends, partners, carers as well as individuals who are interested in mental health research but have not experienced mental illness. Volunteers are vital for improving our understanding about the experience and management of Bipolar Disorder.

If you would like to find out more about Spectrum Centre research and get involved, visit Spectrum Connect.


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