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Psychiatric hospitalization is a major driver of cost in the treatment of schizophrenia. Here, we asked whether a technology-enhanced approach to relapse prevention could reduce days spent in a hospital after discharge.
The Improving Care and Reducing Cost (ICRC) study was a quasi-experimental clinical trial in outpatients with schizophrenia conducted between 26 February 2013 and 17 April 2015 at 10 different sites in the USA in an outpatient setting. Patients were between 18 and 60 years old with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, or psychotic disorder not otherwise specified. Patients received usual care or a technology-enhanced relapse prevention program during a 6-month period after discharge. The health technology program included in-person, individualized relapse prevention planning with treatments delivered via smartphones and computers, as well as a web-based prescriber decision support program. The main outcome measure was days spent in a psychiatric hospital during 6 months after discharge.
The study included 462 patients, of which 438 had complete baseline data and were thus used for propensity matching and analysis. Control participants (N = 89; 37 females) were enrolled first and received usual care for relapse prevention followed by 349 participants (128 females) who received technology-enhanced relapse prevention. During 6-month follow-up, 43% of control and 24% of intervention participants were hospitalized (χ2 = 11.76, p<0.001). Days of hospitalization were reduced by 5 days (mean days: b = −4.58, 95% CI −9.03 to −0.13, p = 0.044) in the intervention condition compared to control.
These results suggest that technology-enhanced relapse prevention is an effective and feasible way to reduce rehospitalization days among patients with schizophrenia.
The COVID-19 pandemic substantially impacted care of patients with schizophrenia treated with long-acting injectable antipsychotics (LAIs). This study examined how clinics adapted operations to maintain a standard of care for these patients after pandemic onset.
Online surveys were completed in October-November 2020 by one principal investigator (PI) or PI-appointed designee at 35 clinics participating in OASIS (NCT03919994). Items concerned pandemic impacts on clinic operations, particularly telepsychiatry, and on the care of patients with schizophrenia treated with LAIs.
All 35 clinics reported using telepsychiatry; 20 (57%) implemented telepsychiatry after pandemic onset. Telepsychiatry visits increased from 12%-15% to 45%-69% across outpatient visit types after pandemic onset; frequency of no-show and/or canceled telepsychiatry visits decreased by approximately one-third. Nearly half of clinics increased the frequency of telepsychiatry visits for patients with schizophrenia treated with LAIs. Approximately one-third of participants each reported switching patients treated with LAIs to longer injection interval LAIs or to oral antipsychotics. The most common system/clinic- and patient-related barrier for telepsychiatry visits was lower reimbursement rate and access to technology/reliable internet, respectively. Almost all participants (94%) were satisfied with telepsychiatry for maintaining care of patients with schizophrenia treated with LAIs; most predicted a hybrid of telepsychiatry and office visits post-pandemic.
Changes made by clinics after pandemic onset were viewed by almost all participants as satisfactory for maintaining a standard of care for patients with schizophrenia treated with LAIs. Most participants predicted continuing telepsychiatry to support patient care post-pandemic; equitable access to telepsychiatry will be important in this regard.
Coordinated specialty care (CSC) is widely accepted as an evidence-based treatment for first episode psychosis (FEP). The NAVIGATE intervention from the Recovery After an Initial Schizophrenia Episode Early Treatment Program (RAISE-ETP) study is a CSC intervention which offers a suite of evidence-based treatments shown to improve engagement and clinical outcomes, especially in those with shorter duration of untreated psychosis (DUP). Coincident with the publication of this study, legislation was passed by the United States Congress in 2014–15 to fund CSC for FEP via a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) block grant set-aside for each state. In Michigan (MI) the management of this grant was delegated to Network180, the community mental health authority in Kent County, with the goal of making CSC more widely available to the 10 million people in MI. Limited research describes the outcomes of implementation of CSC into community practices with no published accounts evaluating the use of the NAVIGATE intervention in a naturalistic setting. We describe the outcomes of NAVIGATE implementation in the state of MI.
In 2014, 3 centers in MI were selected and trained to provide NAVIGATE CSC for FEP. In 2016 a 4th center was added, and 2 existing centers were expanded to provide additional access to NAVIGATE. Inclusion: age 18–31, served in 1 of 4 FEP centers in MI. Data collection began in 2015 for basic demographics, global illness (CGI q3 mo), hospital/ED use and work/school (SURF q3 mo) and was expanded in 2016 to include further demographics, diagnosis, DUP, vital signs; and in 2018 for clinical symptoms with the modified Colorado Symptom Inventory (mCSI q6 mo), reported via an online portal. This analysis used data until 12/31/19. Mixed effects models adjusted by age, sex and race were used to account for correlated data within patients.
N=283 had useable demographic information and were included in the analysis. Age at enrollment was 21.6 ± 3.0 yrs; 74.2% male; 53.4% Caucasian, 34.6% African American; 12.9 ± 1.7 yrs of education (N=195). 18 mo retention was 67% with no difference by sex or race. CGI scores decreased 20% from baseline (BL) to 18 mo (BL=3.5, N=134; 15–18 mo=2.8, N=60). Service utilization via the SURF was measured at BL (N=172) and 18 mo (N=72): psychiatric hospitalizations occurred in 37% at BL and 6% at 18 mo (p<0.01); ER visits occurred in 40% at BL and 13% at 18 mo (p<0.01). 44% were working or in school at BL and 68% at 18 mo (p<0.01). 21% were on antipsychotics (AP) at BL (N=178) and 85% at 18 mo (N=13) with 8% and 54% on long acting injectable-AP at BL and 18 mo, respectively. Limitations include missing data and lack of a control group.
The implementation of the NAVIGATE CSC program for FEP in MI resulted in meaningful clinical improvement for enrollees. Further support could make this evidence-based intervention available to more people with FEP.
Supported by funds from the SAMHSA Medicaid State Block Grant set-aside awarded to Network180 (Achtyes, Kempema). The funders had no role in the design of the study, the analysis or the decision to publish the results.
Patient-reported outcomes and preferences rely on reports of the status of a patient’s health condition that comes directly from the patient, without interpretation or qualification by clinicians or investigators. Patient-reported outcomes and preferences have become an accepted approach in drug development. As part of this effort, we assessed the relative importance to patients with schizophrenia of trying a new antipsychotic that might improve symptoms in the context of common antipsychotic side effects, especially weight gain. Information from surveys such as this one can provide pilot guidance about what might be acceptable versus unacceptable trade-offs when considering new therapies for schizophrenia.
We prospectively administered a cross-sectional survey to 250 patients with clinical diagnoses of schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, aged ≥18 years, from five US outpatient community clinics, regarding the importance of efficacy and side effects on treatment decisions involving medications. Sixty-four percent (n=160) of the patients were male; mean age was 43 years (range: 18–72 years); mean weight was 91 kg (range: 49–182 kg); and mean body mass index was 30.3 kg/m2 (range: 15.3–63.3 kg/m2).
Patients rated both efficacy and side effects as important attributes of medication for schizophrenia treatment, with 88.5% identifying the ability to think more clearly as an important property of their medication. Patients identified efficacy and side effects as important drivers to take their prescribed medicine (endorsed as very or most important by 94.3% and 84.0% of patients, respectively). Patients identified weight gain, physical restlessness and somnolence as significant side effects of current treatments for schizophrenia (very/most important by 61.5%, 60.4%, and 58.9%, respectively). When asked about willingness to change antipsychotics, anticipated weight gain had a strong negative influence on willingness to try a new antipsychotic, with 44.9% of patients declining to try a medication that would lead to a weight gain of 3–5 kg, and 70.8% of patients declining for an anticipated weight gain of 5–9kg.
Patients living with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder are influenced by many factors when considering whether to take their prescribed medication, including efficacy and side effects. It is important for clinicians to assess patient-specific concerns and develop a comprehensive treatment plan to maximize adherence to prescribed therapies.
Funding Acknowledgements: This study was funded by Alkermes, Inc.
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