BACKGROUND: Antipsychotic medication can reduce psychotic symptoms and risk of relapse in people with schizophrenia and related disorders, but it is not always effective and adverse effects can be significant. We know little of patients' views about continuing or discontinuing antipsychotic treatment.
AIMS: To explore the views of people with schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders about continuing their antipsychotic medication or attempting to reduce or discontinue this medication with clinical support.
METHODS: We collected quantitative and qualitative data by conducting semi-structured interviews in London, UK. Factors predicting a desire to discontinue medication were explored. Content analysis of qualitative data was undertaken.
RESULTS: We interviewed 269 participants. 33% (95% CI, 27 to 39%) were content with taking long-term antipsychotic medication. Others reported they took it reluctantly (19%), accepted it on a temporary basis (24%) or actively disliked it (18%). 31% (95% CI, 25 to 37%) said they would like to try to stop medication with professional support, and 45% (95% CI, 39 to 51%) wanted the opportunity to reduce medication. People who wanted to discontinue had more negative attitudes towards the medication but were otherwise similar to other participants. Wanting to stop or reduce medication was motivated mainly by adverse effects and health concerns. Professional support was identified as potentially helpful to achieve reduction.
CONCLUSIONS: This large study reveals that patients are commonly unhappy about the idea of taking antipsychotics on a continuing or life-long basis. Professional support for people who want to try to reduce or stop medication is valued.
- Antipsychotic Agents/therapeutic use
- Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions
- Psychotic Disorders/drug therapy
- Schizophrenia/chemically induced
- Withholding Treatment