To compare the type and degree of impulsivity among adolescents with bipolar disorder (BD), adolescents with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and healthy comparison subjects using the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale, Version 11 (BIS-11).
Manic adolescents with BD (n=31), adolescents with ADHD (n=30), and healthy subjects (n=25) completed the BIS-11, a 30-item, self-report scale with three subscales (cognitive, motor, and nonplanning). The BIS-11 total and subscale scores were compared among groups. We also examined associations among the BIS-11, Young Mania Rating Scale and co-occurring disruptive behavioral disorders (DBDs) within the BD group.
Total and each subscale scores were significantly higher for the BD group than for the healthy controls (p<0.05). The total scores and the cognitive and motor subscale scores were significantly higher for the ADHD group than for the healthy control group (p<0.05). However, there was no statistically significant difference between the nonplanning subscale scores of the ADHD group and the healthy control group (p>0.05). There were no significant differences between the BD and ADHD groups or between the BD groups with and without ADHD. The BD patients with DBDs (i.e., oppositional defiant disorder or conduct disorder) scored significantly higher on the motor subscale than did BD patients without DBDs. There were no statistically significant associations between the Young Mania Rating Scale and BIS-11 scores within the BD group.
Our findings suggest that impulsivity is elevated in adolescents with BD as well as adolescents with ADHD, except for nonplanning impulsivity, which was not significantly different between adolescents with ADHD and the healthy comparison group. This may suggest that nonplanning impulsivity is relatively specific to adolescents with BD. Additionally, our data indicate that elevations in impulsivity, as measured by the BIS-11, may be independent of symptoms severity and, therefore, may be a stable, trait-related component of BD.