Background: Nonadherence with antipsychotic medication is an important clinical and economic problem in the treatment of schizophrenia. This study identified treatment patterns and clinical characteristics that immediately precede the initiation of depot typical antipsychotics in the usual treatment of schizophrenia patients with a recent history of nonadherence with oral antipsychotic regimens.
Methods: Data were drawn from a large, multisite, 3-year prospective noninterventional observational study of persons treated for schizophrenia in the United States, which was conducted between 7/1997 and 9/2003. The analytical sample included patients who, in the 6 months prior to enrollment, were considered nonadherent with oral antipsychotics and were not treated with depot antipsychotics (N = 314). Patients who were subsequently initiated on typical depots during the 3-year follow-up were compared with patients who continued therapy with only oral antipsychotic agents. Group comparisons were made on patient baseline characteristics and precedent variables that were assessed 1 to 6 months prior to depot initiation. Patient assessments were made at predetermined intervals throughout the 3-year study using standard psychiatric measures, a patient-reported questionnaire, and medical record information.
Results: A small proportion of patients (12.4%) who were recently nonadherent with oral antipsychotics were subsequently initiated on depot therapy during the 3-year study. Compared to patients treated with only oral antipsychotics, those subsequently initiated on a depot were significantly more likely to be hospitalized at depot initiation or the previous 30 days, to have recent involvement with the criminal justice system (arrests), recent illicit drug use, recent switching or augmentation of oral antipsychotics, and recent treatment with oral typical antipsychotics.
Conclusion: Despite prior nonadherence with oral antipsychotic medication, only a small proportion of nonadherent schizophrenia patients were initiated on depot antipsychotics in this 3-year prospective study. Patients subsequently initiated on depot had a more severe treatment pattern and clinical profile immediately preceding depot initiation. This profile may have triggered the decision to initiate a depot. Findings have important clinical and economic ramifications for practitioners, policy makers, and other decision makers, highlighting the need for early identification of and tailored therapeutics for schizophrenia patients with a history of nonadherence with their recent oral antipsychotic regimens.