Still, Half of Schizophrenia Patients Ignore Medication Orders

45% Patients with Schizophrenia are Non-Compliant

schizophreniaApproximately 50 percent of schizophrenia patients do not follow their doctors’ instructions when taking their medicines.[1] Increasing four percentage points from 2012, 45 percent are non-compliant.1

It is frustrating for families to see their loved one refuse to adhere to medication schedules that have been prescribed.[2] Although many receive considerable benefit from taking the medicines, many choose to stop taking them at some point.2 This often leads to a psychotic episode and a great deal of turmoil for the patient and their family.2 Frequently, they cycle back into the hospital.2 Unfortunately, this period of noncompliance can result in a serious setback to the progress the patient has made when properly medicated.2

Schizophrenia: Dislike of Medicine, Difficult Side Effects, Denial of Illness

Common reasons for noncompliance include dislike of the medicine, concern regarding side effects, and continued denial of the illness.1 It should not be surprising that a patient will often deny their disorder, as it is difficult to deal with such an unfortunate disease.2 Acknowledging it can be frightening and painful.2 Some believe that their life has been so controlled by doctors, nurses, and their family, that controlling their intake of medication is all they have left.2 Therefore, patient education and therapy may help them understand that their disorder is just that, and that it doesn’t have to define them, especially when properly medicated.2 Therapy can also assure them that they are in control of their lives.2

In 2013, 74 percent of psychiatrists stated that patient dislike of the medicines were a reason for noncompliance.1 Another 71 percent stated that side effects, including sleepiness, weight gain, extrapyramidal symptoms, and tremors were a reason for noncompliance.1 Extrapyramidal symptoms include involuntary asymmetrical movements of the muscles, neck spasms, and a feeling of motor restlessness.1

Schizophrenia and Depot Drugs

To battle noncompliance, “depot” drugs, taken once per week or per month by injection by a healthcare professional are the new, most talked about development in the treatment of schizophrenia.1 However, studies have shown that they have not substantially improved compliance.1 For those who are not happy with their medicine and its side effects, there is little motivation to drive to the appointment.1 Others prefer this solution, as they do not have to think about their mental illness and medication schedule so often.

Although, depot drugs account for 20 percent of all schizophrenia prescriptions, only two percent of doctors expect to significantly increase their use of depot drugs for the treatment of schizophrenia within the next six months.1 As there are a variety of unmet needs among the current crop of schizophrenia treatments, psychiatrists would rather see medicines with better control of negative and cognitive symptoms, fewer metabolic side effects, and improvement in cognitive deficits.1 They ask for drug manufacturers to address the top unsatisfied requirements among psychiatrists.1 They believe treatment shouldn’t be uncomfortable.1

As the monthly schizophrenia patient volume remains stable, with 30 percent of psychiatrists’ practice being made up of patients with schizophrenia, the call-to-action for drug manufacturers remains strong.1

[1] Wood, J. (2013). Almost Half of Schizophrenia Patients Continue to Ignore Doctor’s Meds Orders. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 17, 2013, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2013/10/15/almost-half-of-schizophrenia-patients-continue-to-ignore-doctors-meds-orders/60746.html

[2] Hatfield, A. (n.d.). Medications Noncompliance. Schizophrenia.com. Retrieved October 17, 2013, from http://www.schizophrenia.com/newsletter/997/997noncom.htm

One Comment

  • Will

    November 2, 2013, 4:18 pm

    Helpful information. Fortunate enough me I discovered your site.

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