FAB: First UK feasibility trial of a future randomised controlled trial of Family focused treatment for Adolescents with Bipolar disorder


Background: This first mixed-methods UK trial examined the feasibility and acceptability of a future definitive randomised controlled trial (RCT) to evaluate whether Family Focussed Treatment for Adolescents with Bipolar Disorder (FFT-A) UK version can improve family functioning and well-being as part of the management of Paediatric Bipolar Disorder (PBD).

Method: The trial used a randomised, parallel group, non-blinded design where participants received FFT-A UK (16 sessions over 6 months) immediately or after 12 months (delayed arm). Measures of family functioning, well-being and quality of life of the young person and the main carer (most commonly a parent) were completed at baseline, 6 and 12-months in both arms. Primary outcome measures included rates of eligibility, consent and retention along with estimates of variability in the measures and assessment of the intervention delivery. Qualitative interviews allowed assessment of participants’ views about FFT-A and the trial processes.

Results: Twenty-seven of 36 young persons with PBD and their families consented; of these, 14 families were randomised to the immediate and 13 to the delayed arm. Two families from the immediate arm withdrew consent and discontinued participation. Quantitative measures were completed by 22 families (88%) at 6-months and 21 families (84%) at 12-months. Qualitative interviews were conducted with 30 participants (9 young people, 15 parents and 6 other family members). Nine families attended 3 post-trial focus groups.

Conclusion: It was feasible to recruit and retain to this trial. The results highlighted that trial design and measures were acceptable to participants. A benefit in family relationships was reported by participants which they attributed to the intervention in qualitative interviews. Families recommended that future modifications include definitive trial(s) recruiting participants in the age range 15–25 years as it felt this was the age range with maximum need.

Trial registration: ISRCTN, ISRCTN59769322. Registered 20 January 2014, http://www.isrctn.com/ISRCTN59769322

International Journal of Bipolar Disorders 2020;8:24