Background: Subjective evaluations by schizophrenic patients and their relatives of clozapine treatment were assessed as part of an exploratory study.
Methods: A problem-centred interview was carried out with 80 patients at discharge from in-patient or day-hospital treatment. Views of 46 relatives on the treatment were also assessed.
Results: In addition to expected effects (improvement of or stabilisation of one's state of mental health, antipsychotic effects), patients surprisingly often highlighted the calming and relaxing effect of clozapine as well as improved sleep as particularly positive. While more than half of the respondents expected a worsening of their condition if they stopped taking medication, only every fifth patient feared a relapse. Among the negative effects, fatigue and sedation were cited by far the most often. The absence of extrapyramidal side effects was clearly noted as an advantage of clozapine. Only 10% of those questioned were aware of the risks for the haemotopoetic system associated with the drug. Differences were found between patients' and relatives' assessments particularly with regard to the negative effects.
Conclusions: Patients and relatives frequently hold specific and distinct views on clozapine treatment. These views should be considered when patients and relatives are informed and when compliance is addressed.