Factors associated with successful antipsychotic dose reduction in schizophrenia: a systematic review of prospective clinical trials and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

Neuropsychopharmacology. 2020 Apr;45(5):887-901. doi: 10.1038/s41386-019-0573-7. Epub 2019 Nov 26.


This systematic review and meta-analysis examined predictors of successful antipsychotic dose reduction in schizophrenia. Prospective clinical trials and randomized controlled trials (RCTs) investigating antipsychotic dose reduction in schizophrenia were selected for systematic review and meta-analysis, respectively. In total, 37 trials were identified. Only 8 studies focused on second-generation antipsychotics (SGAs); no studies investigated long-acting injectable SGAs. Of 24 studies evaluating relapse or symptom changes, 20 (83.3%) met the criteria for successful dose reduction. Factors associated with successful dose reduction were study duration < 1 year, age > 40 years, duration of illness > 10 years, and post-reduction chlorpromazine equivalent (CPZE) dose > 200 mg/day. Clinical deterioration was mostly re-stabilized by increasing the dose to the baseline level (N = 7/8, 87.5%). A meta-analysis of 18 RCTs revealed that relapse rate was significantly higher in the reduction group than the maintenance group (risk ratio [RR] = 1.96; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.23-3.12), whereas neurocognition was significantly improved (standardized mean difference = 0.69; 95% CI, 0.25-1.12). A subgroup analysis indicated that only a post-reduction CPZE dose ≤ 200 mg/day was associated with an increased risk of relapse (RR = 2.79; 95% CI, 1.29-6.03). Thus, when reducing antipsychotic doses, clinicians should consider the long-term risk of relapse in younger patients with a relatively short illness duration and keep the final doses higher than CPZE 200 mg/day. Further studies, particularly those involving SGAs, are warranted to determine the optimal strategies for successful antipsychotic dose reduction in schizophrenia.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Tapering*
  • Humans
  • Prospective Studies
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Recurrence
  • Schizophrenia / drug therapy*
  • Schizophrenic Psychology*
  • Secondary Prevention
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antipsychotic Agents