Bipolar CHOICE (clinical health outcomes initiative in comparative effectiveness): A pragmatic 6-month trial of lithium versus quetiapine for Bipolar disorder

Academic Article


  • Background: Bipolar disorder is among the 10 most disabling medical conditions worldwide. While lithium has been used extensively for bipolar disorder since the 1970s, second-generation antipsychotics (SGAs) have supplanted lithium since 1998. To date, no randomized comparative-effectiveness study has compared lithium and any SGA. Method: Within the duration of the study (September 2010-September 2013), participants with bipolar I or II disorder (DSM-IV-TR) were randomized for 6 months to receive lithium (n = 240) or quetiapine (n = 242). Lithium and quetiapine were combined with other medications for bipolar disorder consistent with typical clinical practice (adjunctive personalized treatment [APT], excluding any SGA for the lithium + APT group and excluding lithium or any other SGA for the quetiapine + APT group). Coprimary outcome measures included Clinical Global Impressions-Efficacy Index (CGI-EI) and necessary clinical adjustments, which measured number of changes in adjunctive personalized treatment. Secondary measures included a full range of symptoms, cardiovascular risk, functioning, quality of life, suicidal ideation and behavior, and adverse events. Results: Participants improved across all measures, and over 20% had a sustained response. Primary (CGI-EI, P =.59; necessary clinical adjustments, P =.15) and secondary outcome changes were not statistically significantly different between the 2 groups. For participants with greater manic/hypomanic symptoms, CGI-EI changes were significantly more favorable with quetiapine + APT (P =.02). Among those with anxiety, the lithium + APT group had fewer necessary clinical adjustments per month (P =.02). Lithium was better tolerated than quetiapine in terms of the burden of side effects frequency (P =.05), intensity (P =.01), and impairment (P =.01). Conclusions: Despite adequate power to detect clinically meaningful differences, we found outcomes with lithium + APT and quetiapine + APT were not significantly different across 6 months of treatment for bipolar disorder.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Nierenberg AA; McElroy SL; Friedman ES; Ketter TA; Shelton RC; Deckersbach T; McInnis MG; Bowden CL; Tohen M; Kocsis JH
  • Start Page

  • 90
  • End Page

  • 99
  • Volume

  • 77
  • Issue

  • 1