A report in the April 2007 issue of Psychiatric Services has identified a unique subgroup of schizophrenia patients in the United States who tend to receive depot antipsychotic medications.
Patients with schizophrenia can improve with long-term treatment, but they may relapse if they do not follow antipsychotic medication regimens. Patient nonadherence to oral medication due to disorganization or disaffection with treatment has been difficult for clinicians to predict. Depot medications are administered by injection every two to four weeks, eliminating the need for daily oral dosing.
Use of depot medication for patients in the identified subgroup may help reduce relapses among these patients, the study suggests. This unique group of patients is more likely to include African-Americans and persons who are less likely to be veterans, have had previous psychiatric hospitalizations, were more likely to have been arrested, use alcohol and illicit substances, and show psychotic symptoms and disorganized thinking.
The study, “Characteristics and Use Patterns of Patients Taking First-Generation Depot Antipsychotic or Oral Antipsychotic for Schizophrenia,” led by Lizheng Shi, professor of health systems management at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, examined data from a large randomized study on the treatment of 2,327 schizophrenia patients in the United States between July 1997 and Sept. 2003.
Co-authors of the study are: Haya Ascher-Svanum, Baojin Zhu, Douglas Faries, and William Montgomery, Eli Lilly and Co.; Stephen R. Marder, West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Los Angeles, Calif. and the School of Medicine of the University of California–Los Angeles.
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