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What does it mean to age well with bipolar disorder?

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  • Full or part time
    Dr Jasper Palmier-Claus
    Prof C Holland
    Prof F Lobban
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Bipolar disorder (BD) is characterised by extreme affective states that cause significant distress and disability, impaired functioning and reduced quality of life, persisting across the lifespan. Patients with BD experience poor physical health (e.g. diabetes, cardiovascular disease) and high suicide rates. Mortality rates are three times higher than the general population. Older adults with BD are a particularly vulnerable group. In addition to chronic mental health difficulties, they experience frailty, isolation, loss of independence, and cognitive decline. Long-term use of mood stabilising medication cause renal failure, hypothyroidism and weight gain, creating further health disparities. Compared to non-clinical age-matched samples, older adults with BD have poorer quality of life and self-report as more disabled. This problem is likely to increase as the UK experiences a rapidly aging population; it is estimated that 100,000 older adults living with BD in the UK by 2050.

Services are failing older adults with BD who have high rates of mental health service utilisation and hospitalisation, and little access to evidence based treatments (e.g., only 7-14% are offered psychological therapy), which are not adapted to meet their presenting needs. The NICE guidelines for BD (2006) highlight the absence of evidence for older adults, resulting in a reliance on research conducted in adult populations. Mental health services are inadequately equipped to respond to the multifaceted and changing difficulties, medical problems and physical disability that come with later life. Our initial work in this area suggests that older adults with severe mental health difficulties want support around social connectedness and maintaining independence, rather than the traditional focus on symptom remission (Smart, 2018). Further research is needed to explore the changing needs of older adults with BD and what it means to age well with this diagnosis. This could reduce health inequalities and optimise person-centred care in this population.

The research attempts to answer the following questions:

1. What does aging well with bipolar disorder mean to service users?
2. What are the changing needs of people with bipolar disorder as they transition into later life?

The overaching aim is to better understand the preferences, priorities and presenting needs of older adults with bipolar disorder in order to reduce the inadequate, disparate, and sometimes unsuitable care that this group currently receives.

Funding Notes

The studentships will be for 4 years full-time (subject to satisfactory progress) covering tuition fees at Home/EU rates. A stipend in line with the UK Research Council rates. Please note that funding is only available for the first 3 years but a 4th year is unfunded for writing up.

Application is by CV and covering letter which details your interest in the studentship, related experience and training and suitability for the position. Applications are to be sent to Dr Jasper Palmier-Claus, [Email Address Removed]

How good is research at Lancaster University in Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 64.40

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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