Objective: This study aimed to characterize weight changes in schizophrenia patients taking risperidone as part of a randomized, controlled, open-label clinical trial.
Methods: A total of 374 patients with schizophrenia who had been clinically stabilized following an acute episode were randomly assigned to a 'no-dose-reduction' group (initial optimal therapeutic doses continued throughout the study), a '4-week group' (initial optimal therapeutic doses continued for 4 weeks followed by a half dose reduction that was maintained until the end of the study) or a '26-week group' (initial optimal therapeutic doses continued for 26 weeks followed by a half dose reduction until the end of the study). Participants were assessed monthly using standardized assessment instruments during the first 6 months, and then every 2 months until the last recruited patient completed the 1-year follow-up. Weight gain was defined as gaining at least 7% of initial body weight, weight loss as losing at least 7% of initial body weight. A BMI <18.5 kg m⁻² was defined as underweight, 18.5-24.9 kg m⁻² as normal range, and ≥ 25 kg m⁻² as overweight or obese.
Results: At the end of follow-up, of the patients who started within the underweight range (n=22), 77.3% gained weight, whereas 4.5% lost weight. The corresponding figures were 39.6% and 4.8% in patients who started at normal weight (n=273), respectively, and 17.7% and 17.7% in patients who started at overweight (n=79), respectively. At the same time, 59.1% of the patients who started at underweight range went into the normal weight and 13.6% into the overweight/obese range, respectively, while 24.5% of those who started at normal weight went into the overweight/obese range, and 1.1% into underweight range, respectively; 20.3% of those who started at overweight range went into normal weight at the end of the follow-up. Multiple logistic regression analyses revealed that being underweight or normal weight at study entry predicted weight gain compared to being overweight, whereas being overweight at entry was associated with a higher likelihood of weight loss compared to being normal weight. No correlation was found between weight change and dose reduction.
Conclusions: Weight change is a common, long-term, but heterogeneous side effect in risperidone maintenance treatment for stable schizophrenia patients. Special attention should be paid to fluctuations in weight that may occur throughout the course of treatment with risperidone.
© Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York.