Reducing polypharmacy through the introduction of a treatment algorithm: use of a treatment algorithm on the impact on polypharmacy

Ann Acad Med Singap. 2006 Jul;35(7):457-60.


Introduction: Polypharmacy is very common in the psychiatric setting despite the lack of evidence to justify its use. The objective of this study was to review the prescription patterns in a tertiary mental health institute in Asia and evaluate the impact of a treatment algorithm for patients with first-episode psychosis (FEP) on the use of polypharmacy.

Materials and methods: A treatment algorithm was implemented for patients accepted into an Early Psychosis Intervention Programme (EPIP) and the prescription patterns of these patients were compared with a comparator group (pre-EPIP) before the use of the algorithm. The prescribing pattern was established at 2 points: at baseline after the diagnosis was made, and 3 months later.

Results: There were 68 subjects in the comparator group and 483 EPIP patients; the latter were on the average younger. None in the comparator group was diagnosed to have an affective psychosis. There was a significant reduction in the rate of antipsychotic polypharmacy, prolonged use of benzodiazepines and anticholinergic medication in EPIP patients. This group also had an increase in the use of second-generation antipsychotics and received lower doses of antipsychotics.

Conclusion: The implementation of a treatment algorithm coupled with audit has changed the trend towards polypharmacy among patients with FEP.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Algorithms
  • Antipsychotic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Polypharmacy*
  • Psychotic Disorders / drug therapy*


  • Antipsychotic Agents