The Types of Psychosocial Factors Associated with Suicidality Outcomes for People Living with Bipolar Disorder: A Scoping Review

Robert C. Dempsey*, Alyson L. Dodd, Patricia A. Gooding, Steven H. Jones

*Corresponding author for this work

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Bipolar Disorder is associated with high rates of suicidal thoughts, behaviors, and outcomes, yet the lived experience of suicidality and Bipolar Disorder is not particularly well understood. Understanding the role of psychosocial aetiologies in suicidality outcomes for those living with Bipolar Disorder is key for developing appropriately targeted interventions focusing on factors that are amenable to change. In line with PRISMA guidance, we conducted a scoping review to identify the types of psychosocial factors studied in relation to the experience of suicidality for people living with Bipolar Disorder diagnoses. Systematic literature searches identified a sample of 166 articles from which key study data were extracted and charted. A narrative synthesis of the reviewed literature is presented ordered by the factors investigated across studies, a frequency count of the types of psychological/social aetiologies studied, and a brief overview of the key findings for each aetiology. Most of the identified literature took the form of quantitative cross-sectional studies, with only one qualitative study and 18 quantitative prospective studies. The most studied aetiologies were trauma (specifically early adverse experiences and childhood traumas) and stressful life events, impulsivity (primarily subjective self-reported trait impulsivity), social support and functioning, and personality/temperament factors. Only six studies in the final sample reported basing their research questions and/or hypotheses on an explicit theoretical model of suicide. The literature was primarily focused on using self-report measurements of key aetiologies and on factors which lead to worsened suicidality rather than focusing on potentially protective or buffering factors. Future research needs to better justify the aetiologies investigated in relation to suicidality outcomes for people living with Bipolar Disorder, including a firmer basis in theory and hypothesis testing, more prospective designs, and the use of alternative assessments of psychosocial aetiologies in addition to self-report questionnaires.
Original languageEnglish
Article number525
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 24 Apr 2024

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