Many US schizophrenics getting wrong meds

accreditation
Woman with two faces representing two different personalities.
Woman with two faces representing two different personalities.
Shutterstock


Improper drug treatment is given to nearly 40 percent of people who suffer their first episode of schizophrenia, according to a new study.

As many as 4 in 10 seeking help after first episode are medicated inappropriately, researchers say.

Read: What is schizophrenia?

Because schizophrenia is typically a chronic illness, early treatment can have an effect on a patient's long-term outcome, the researchers noted.

Inconsistent with recommendations

Inappropriate drug treatment can lead to problems that cause patients to stop taking their medication.

The study included 404 people who suffered a first episode of schizophrenia.

They were seen at community treatment centres in 21 states.

Of those patients, 159 received drug treatment that was inconsistent with recommendations for first-episode patients.

Read: Mental illness in SA – are we getting the help we need?

Some of the more common mistakes the researchers cited included:

  • Prescribing more than one anti-psychotic drug.
  • A higher-than-recommended dose of an anti-psychotic.
  • The use of psychotropic medication other than an anti-psychotic.
  • Prescribing an antidepressant without justification.
  • The use of the anti-psychotic olanzapine, which is especially likely to cause major weight gain but was often prescribed at high doses.
The study appears in The American Journal of Psychiatry.

Dosing for first-episode patients differs

"Academic research has found that optimal medication selection and dosing for first-episode patients differs from that for patients with longer illness durations. The challenge to the field is to get this specialised knowledge to busy clinicians who are treating patients," study author Dr. Delbert Robinson, a psychiatrist at the Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, New York, said in a journal news release.

Read: Large number of schizophrenics report happiness

"Our finding that treatment differed based upon patients' insurance status suggests that in order to improve first-episode care we may also need to address treatment system issues," Robinson said.

Read More:

Links between schizophrenia and cannabis use
OCD sufferers at greater risk of schizophrenia
Dagga is more dangerous than previously thought
 
Image: Portrait of girl with two faces from Shutterstock.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Eskom has considered continuous load shedding at Stage 2, instead of introducing it when the power system faces a crunch. What are your thoughts?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
I'm all for it - we're going to have power cuts regardless, so we might as well have some stability to better plan our lives
45% - 4111 votes
No thanks! I prefer having periods of no load shedding and we cannot normalise this crisis
55% - 4979 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
17.93
-1.8%
Rand - Pound
19.45
+0.1%
Rand - Euro
17.37
+0.2%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.70
+0.2%
Rand - Yen
0.13
+0.2%
Gold
1,643.66
0.0%
Silver
18.87
0.0%
Palladium
2,073.00
0.0%
Platinum
858.50
0.0%
Brent Crude
86.15
-5.0%
Top 40
57,110
-3.1%
All Share
63,417
-2.9%
Resource 10
56,319
-7.5%
Industrial 25
78,436
-1.2%
Financial 15
14,142
-1.6%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE