Psychotropic medication use in youth at high risk for psychosis: comparison of baseline data from two research cohorts 1998-2005 and 2008-2011

Schizophr Res. 2013 Aug;148(1-3):99-104. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2013.05.019. Epub 2013 Jun 17.


Background: Antipsychotic medication use rates have generally been rising among youth with psychiatric disorders, but little is known about use rates of antipsychotics or other psychotropic medications in patients at high risk for psychosis.

Method: Baseline psychotropic medication use rates were compared in two research cohorts of patients at high risk for psychosis that enrolled between 1998-2005 (n=391) and 2008-2011 (n=346). Treatment durations and antipsychotic doses were described for cohort 2.

Results: Median age was 17years in cohort 1 and 18years in cohort 2. The rate of prescription of any psychotropic at baseline was roughly 40% for each cohort. Antipsychotic prescription rates were 24% among sites that permitted baseline antipsychotic use in cohort 1 and 18% in the cohort 2; the decline did not quite reach statistical significance (p=0.064). In cohort 2 the mean±SD baseline chlorpromazine-equivalent dose was 121±108mg/d, and lifetime duration of antipsychotic treatment was 3.8±5.9months.

Discussion: Although the rate of antipsychotic prescription among high-risk youth may have fallen slightly, the nearly one-in-five rate in the second cohort still constitutes a significant exposure. Mitigating factors were that doses and durations of treatment were low. As for other nonpsychotic conditions, it is incumbent on our field to develop alternative treatments for high-risk patients and to generate additional evidence for or against the efficacy of antipsychotics to help define their appropriate role if alternative treatments fail.

Keywords: Antipsychotic medication; High risk; Psychosis; Psychotropic medication; Risk syndrome.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prescriptions
  • Psychotic Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Psychotropic Drugs / therapeutic use*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk
  • Statistics, Nonparametric


  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Psychotropic Drugs