Antipsychotic treatment in the maintenance phase of schizophrenia: An updated systematic review of the guidelines and algorithms

Schizophr Res. 2020 Jan;215:8-16. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2019.09.013. Epub 2019 Nov 26.


Background: We updated our previous systematic review regarding clinical guidelines and algorithms on antipsychotic treatment in the maintenance phase of schizophrenia (doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2011.11.021) to incorporate and synthesize more recent findings to guide clinical practice.

Methods: We conducted a systematic literature search to identify clinical guidelines and algorithms describing antipsychotic treatment in the maintenance phase of schizophrenia using MEDLINE and Embase. We assessed overall quality of the guidelines/algorithms according to the AGREE II instrument and extracted information on treatment recommendations.

Results: We identified 20 guidelines/algorithms from various regions, including 11 updated or newly launched ones after the previous systematic review in 2012. All of the guidelines/algorithms satisfied a certain level of quality. Where mentioned, endorsements were sorted into "recommended", "partially recommended", or "not recommended". As for antipsychotic discontinuation strategy, a majority of guidelines/algorithms that mentioned this strategy did not recommend it for multiple-episode schizophrenia (N = 5/6). On the other hand, the guidelines/algorithms tended to shift from "not recommended" to "partially recommended" both for schizophrenia in general (N = 7/13, N = 7/8 for those published after 2013) and first-episode schizophrenia (N = 10/11, N = 7/7 for those published after 2013) regarding this strategy. All guidelines/algorithms (N = 9/9) converged to discourage antipsychotic intermittent/targeted strategy. Similar to antipsychotic discontinuation strategy, all of the updated or new guidelines/algorithms (N = 6/6) endorsed antipsychotic dose reduction/lower dose strategy.

Conclusion: Recent clinical guidelines and algorithms on antipsychotic maintenance treatment in schizophrenia shifted more toward a possibility of antipsychotic discontinuation and dose reduction/lower dose strategies. Nonetheless, clinicians need to contemplate on the risk-benefit balance of these strategies for individual patients.

Keywords: Algorithms; Antipsychotics; Guidelines; Maintenance; Schizophrenia.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Antipsychotic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic / standards*
  • Schizophrenia / drug therapy*
  • Secondary Prevention / standards*


  • Antipsychotic Agents