Background: Gender disparities in treatment are apparent across many areas of healthcare. There has been little research into whether clozapine prescription, the first-line treatment for treatment-resistant schizophrenia (TRS), is affected by patient gender. Methods: This retrospective cohort study identified 2244 patients with TRS within the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust, by using a bespoke method validated against a gold-standard, manually coded, dataset of TRS cases. The outcome and exposures were identified from the free-text using natural language processing applications (including machine learning and rules-based approaches) and from information entered in structured fields. Multivariable logistic regression was carried out to calculate the odds ratios for clozapine prescription according to patients' gender, and adjusting for numerous potential confounders including sociodemographic, clinical (e.g., psychiatric comorbidities and substance use), neutropenia, functional factors (e.g., problems with occupation), and clinical monitoring. Results: Clozapine was prescribed to 77% of the women and 85% of the men with TRS. Women had reduced odds of being prescribed clozapine as compared to men after adjusting for all factors included in the present study (adjusted OR: 0.66; 95% CI 0.44–0.97; p = 0.037). Conclusion: Women with TRS are less likely to be prescribed clozapine than men with TRS, even when considering the effects of multiple clinical and functional factors. This finding suggests there could be gender bias in clozapine prescription, which carries ramifications for the relatively poorer care of women with TRS regarding many outcomes such as increased hospitalisation, mortality, and poorer quality of life.
- healthcare inequality, sex, refractory psychosis, psychopharmacology