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FAST Useful for Gauging Functional Recovery of Patients With Bipolar I

December 13, 2019

A sustained score of 11 or lower on the Functioning Assessment Short Test (FAST) appears useful and achievable for gauging functional recovery in patients with bipolar I disorder, according to a study published in Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment. 

“There is growing agreement,” researchers wrote, “that definitions of ‘recovery’ in bipolar I disorder should include functional outcomes beyond sustained symptomatic remission.” 

Researchers tested the usefulness of the validated FAST instrument by conducting a post-hoc analysis of two long-term studies involving once-monthly aripiprazole for maintenance treatment of patients with bipolar I disorder. A total FAST score of 11 or less for at least 8 consecutive weeks was considered “functional recovery.” 

In a placebo-controlled, double-blind, randomized-withdrawal study that included 229 patients, 30.2% of participants who received once-monthly aripiprazole achieved functional recovery after 52 weeks compared with 24.8% of participants who achieved functional recovery with placebo.

In a subsequent open-label study that rolled over 81 participants from the initial study and added 321 de novo participants, 43% of rollover participants and 36% of de novo participants achieved functional recovery after 52 weeks of aripiprazole treatment. 

Functional recovery is beginning to be considered equally as important as symptomatic recovery, since key goals for patients and relatives are to fulfill role expectations at work/school and home and to maintain good relationships,” researchers wrote. 

“The results of this study,” they concluded, “demonstrate the utility of a FAST total score of ≤11 for 8 consecutive weeks as a definition of functional recovery in bipolar I disorder and highlight the possibility of achieving this ambitious treatment goal with effective treatment.” 

Jolynn Tumolo


Madera J, Such P, Zhang P, Baker RA, Grande I. Use of the Functioning Assessment Short Test (FAST) in defining functional recovery in bipolar I disorder. Post-hoc analyses of long-term studies of aripiprazole once monthly as maintenance treatment. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment. 2019;15:2325-2338.

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