Associations between individual antipsychotics and the risk of arrests and convictions of violent and other crime: a nationwide within-individual study of 74 925 persons

Psychol Med. 2021 Mar 11;52(16):1-9. doi: 10.1017/S0033291721000556. Online ahead of print.


Background: Individuals diagnosed with psychiatric disorders who are prescribed antipsychotics have lower rates of violence and crime but the differential effects of specific antipsychotics are not known. We investigated associations between 10 specific antipsychotic medications and subsequent risks for a range of criminal outcomes.

Methods: We identified 74 925 individuals who were ever prescribed antipsychotics between 2006 and 2013 using nationwide Swedish registries. We tested for five specific first-generation antipsychotics (levomepromazine, perphenazine, haloperidol, flupentixol, and zuclopenthixol) and five second-generation antipsychotics (clozapine, olanzapine, quetiapine, risperidone, and aripiprazole). The outcomes included violent, drug-related, and any criminal arrests and convictions. We conducted within-individual analyses using fixed-effects Poisson regression models that compared rates of outcomes between periods when each individual was either on or off medication to account for time-stable unmeasured confounders. All models were adjusted for age and concurrent mood stabilizer medications.

Results: The relative risks of all crime outcomes were substantially reduced [range of adjusted rate ratios (aRRs): 0.50-0.67] during periods when the patients were prescribed antipsychotics v. periods when they were not. We found that clozapine (aRRs: 0.28-0.44), olanzapine (aRRs: 0.46-0.72), and risperidone (aRRs: 0.53-0.64) were associated with lower arrest and conviction risks than other antipsychotics, including quetiapine (aRRs: 0.68-0.84) and haloperidol (aRRs: 0.67-0.77). Long-acting injectables as a combined medication class were associated with lower risks of the outcomes but only risperidone was associated with lower risks of all six outcomes (aRRs: 0.33-0.69).

Conclusions: There is heterogeneity in the associations between specific antipsychotics and subsequent arrests and convictions for any drug-related and violent crimes.

Keywords: Antipsychotics; clozapine; crime; effectiveness; pharmacoepidemiology; violence.