Social and cognitive functioning may be directly related in older adults with bipolar disorder, according to a study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders.
This study included 63 older adults with bipolar disorder over the age of 60 from an electronic record-keeping system of the Mental Health Organization in the Netherlands. These participants were part of a previous Dutch Older Bipolar Patients (DOBi) study in 2012. Researchers measured the cognitive function of participants through neuropsychological assessment and Mini Mental State Examination, assessing attention, learning and memory, executive functioning, and verbal fluency. Global social function was assessed at clinical interview through Social and Occupational Functioning Assessment Scale and by the Social Participation Scale. Researchers conducted linear regression analyses between cognitive performance and social functioning. Admission and disease duration was determined through interview. The Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview Plus confirmed bipolar disorder in all participants.
Linear regression analyses between global cognitive functioning and global social functioning was significant when controlling for confounding variables that included age, level of education, and symptoms of depression (β=0.31, P =.02). The association between attention and global social functioning was not significant after adjusting for variables (β=−0.257, P =.06). Learning and memory showed an important relationship with Social Occupational Functioning Assessment scores (β=0.32, P =.011). A significant correlation was also found in executive functioning (β=−0.47, P <.01). Verbal fluency and the association between cognitive domains, participation on a social level, and the number of important personal contacts were not statistically significant in older adults with bipolar disorder.
Researchers conclude that their “findings suggest that better functioning in learning and memory and executive functioning is associated with better global social functioning in OABD patients.” They emphasized the need for an integrative treatment program to improve social and cognitive function in OABD patients.
Orhan M, Korten N, Stek M, Comijs H, Schouws S, Dols, A. The relationship between cognitive and social functioning in older patients with bipolar disorder. J Affect Disord. 2018; 240:177-182.