Approaches to improve adherence to pharmacotherapy in patients with schizophrenia
Kimberly M Shuler
Shuler Counseling and Consulting, Fayetteville, AR, USA
Purpose: In patients with schizophrenia, nonadherence to prescribed medications increases the risk of patient relapse and hospitalization, key contributors to the costs associated with treatment. The objectives of this review were to evaluate the impact of nonadherence to pharmacotherapy in patients with schizophrenia as it relates to health care professionals, particularly social workers, and to identify effective team approaches to supporting patients based on studies assessing implementation of assertive community treatment teams.
Materials and methods: A systematic review of the medical literature was conducted by searching the Scopus database to identify articles associated with treatment adherence in patients with schizophrenia. Articles included were published from January 1, 2003, through July 15, 2013, were written in English, and reported findings concerning any and all aspects of nonadherence to prescribed treatment in patients with schizophrenia.
Results: Of 92 unique articles identified and formally screened, 47 met the inclusion criteria for the systematic review. The burden of nonadherence in schizophrenia is significant. Factors with the potential to affect adherence include antipsychotic drug class and formulation, patient-specific factors, and family/social support system. There is inconclusive evidence suggesting superior adherence with an atypical versus typical antipsychotic or with a long-acting injectable versus an oral formulation. Patient-specific factors that contribute to adherence include awareness/denial of illness, cognitive issues, stigma associated with taking medication, substance abuse, access to health care, employment/poverty, and insurance status. Lack of social or family support may adversely affect adherence, necessitating the assistance of health care professionals, such as social workers. Evidence supports the concept that an enhanced team-oriented approach to managing patients with schizophrenia improves adherence and supports corresponding reductions in relapse rates, inpatient admissions, and associated costs.
Conclusion: Optimization of medication and involvement of caregivers are important to promoting adherence. A multidisciplinary team approach may be invaluable in identifying barriers to adherence and helping schizophrenia patients overcome them.
Keywords: medication adherence, schizophrenia, community mental health services, social work, psychiatric
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