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Executive functioning but not IQ or illness severity predicts occupational status in bipolar disorder

Journal article
Authors Julia Drakopoulos
Timea Sparding
C. Clements
Erik Pålsson
Mikael Landén
Published in International Journal of Bipolar Disorders
Volume 8
Issue 1
Pages 9
ISSN 2194-7511
Publication year 2020
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Psychiatry and Neurochemistry
Pages 9
Language en
Keywords Employment, Observational study, Neuropsychological tests, Bipolar, disorder, Cognitive dysfunction, Executive function, follow-up, manic episodes, rating-scale, work, dysfunction, impairment, association, disability, employment, variables, Psychiatry
Subject categories Psychiatry


Background Bipolar disorder is associated with significant functional deficits including occupational functioning. Despite the high rates of unemployment and sick leave in the patient population, only a limited number of studies have examined factors associated with occupational functioning in bipolar disorder. The aim of the study was to investigate the relative importance of demographic, clinical, and neuropsychological factors on occupational dysfunction in bipolar disorder. Methods A sample of 120 partially or fully remitted bipolar disorder I and II patients were included in the study. Patients were stratified into an active and an inactive group based on the number of hours per week working or studying. Active (n = 86) and inactive (n = 34) patients were compared with respect to demographic factors, clinical characteristics, medication, measures of psychosocial functioning, and cognitive functioning (i.e., IQ and executive functions). No other cognitive domains were examined. Results Univariate analyses revealed better overall cognitive function in active patients in terms of IQ and executive functioning. However, only executive functioning accounted for a significant amount of the variance in occupational status when other significant predictors were taken into account. Conclusions Executive functioning was a more powerful predictor of occupational status in bipolar disorder patients than IQ and other clinical factors, including illness severity.

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