New Study Seeks to Find the Most Effective Tool for Identifying Pediatric Bipolar

There is significant disagreement in the clinical community as to the prevalence of pediatric bipolar disorder. This is due in part to the symptoms that children exhibit in comparison to the symptoms seen in adults with bipolar. In addition, the validity of the parent-reported version of the General Behavior Inventory (PGBI), a tool used to measure symptoms in children who may have bipolar, has been in question. In a recent study, Andrew J. Freeman of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, along with his colleagues from several other universities, tested the validity of 10 items from the PGBI across separate clinical settings.

The researchers recruited 2,252 youths from urban mental health centers and academic medical centers in the Midwest. They sought to determine how portable the 10 extracted items would be when used between academic centers and community medical centers and found that although the demographics of the participants varied greatly, the 10 items produced similar results regardless of the setting. The items were able to identify bipolar symptoms in participants whether they were white, African-American, low-income or high-income. The team also noted that the caregiver responses were also similar for 9 of the 10 items.

Another difficulty in diagnosing bipolar in children is comorbidity. “Despite these correlations, the clinically typical rates of comorbidity, and the high rates of diagnoses often challenging to differentiate from bipolar disorder, the PGBI–10M was able to identify youths with PBD significantly better than chance from all other youths presenting to the clinics,” said the team of their abbreviated scale. “More focal comparisons demonstrated that the PGBI–10M also could discriminate bipolar from unipolar depression or ADHD.” They added, “Results indicate that the brief version of the scale continues to provide clinically useful information in the assessment of pediatric bipolar disorder across a broad range of clinical settings.”

Freeman, A. J., Youngstrom, E. A., Frazier, T. W., Youngstrom, J. K., Demeter, C., & Findling, R. L. (2011, September 26). Portability of a Screener for Pediatric Bipolar Disorder to a Diverse Setting. Psychological Assessment. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0025617

© Copyright 2011 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

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  • chyna


    October 14th, 2011 at 7:26 PM

    Yeah it is kind of hard to think about kids having to deal with being bipolar, even though I know that it is sure to happen.

  • Diana


    October 16th, 2011 at 5:36 AM

    Well, no treatment can start if there is no diagnosis first. And if identifying bipolar in kids is tough then we need newer and better ways! Its as simple as that. And the fact that research is being carried out in the field is a satisfying fact to know.

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