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Optimising response to lithium treatment through personalized evaluation of individuals with bipolar I disorder: The R-Link initiative

What is the study about?

Bipolar disorder is a recurrent and disabling illness which affects around 2% of the population and is a leading cause of suicide. Mood stabilising treatment with lithium is one of the most effective options to prevent relapse. However, response to lithium varies greatly and so far, it is not possible to predict who will benefit the most from treatment. The R-Link study aims to find out which factors predict future response to lithium treatment in the long-term.

R-Link is an international study spanning over 8 countries and 15 clinical centres, and is part of the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme.

What to expect from participation in the study

The study will span over 2 years and include 2-10 in person assessments, as well as monthly telephone reviews (these are limited to only minimal, face-to-face contact during the COVID-19 pandemic). In the visits, we ask about history of mental and physical health, current mood symptoms, thinking-skill exercises, blood tests and brain scans if possible. We might also provide you with a watch similar to a Fitbit, however this is not essential for your involvement in the study. As with all of our research studies, your participation is completely voluntary and withdrawal at any stage is always a possibility without it affecting your regular treatment.

Benefits of taking part

Lithium is considered first-line treatment for people with bipolar disorder, and alongside your regular routine treatment and monitoring from your clinician, you will be provided with thorough follow-ups from us and more attention compared to standard procedures. Hopefully you will benefit from this treatment, however, the results of your participation will regardless help future clinical practice by informing medical science of who might benefit the most from the treatment.

Inclusion criteria

You will be eligible to take part in the study if you are an adult and have a diagnosis of bipolar disorder type 1. The decision to start lithium treatment is yours and your clinician’s, but you need to have not yet started lithium when you enter the study. Pregnancy and other medical conditions which might be incompatible with lithium treatment will unfortunately prevent you from taking part.

Similar studies for people with bipolar disorder:

Project status: Ongoing