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Subjective response (SR) to antipsychotic medication is relevant for quality of life, adherence and recovery. Here, we evaluate (1) the extent of variation in SR in patients using a single antipsychotic; (2) the association between subjective and symptomatic response; and (3) predictors of SR.
Open-label, single treatment condition with amisulpride in 339 patients with a first episode of a schizophrenia spectrum disorder, at most minimally treated before inclusion. Patients were evaluated at baseline, before start with amisulpride and after four weeks of treatment with the Subjective Wellbeing under Neuroleptic scale, the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale, and the Calgary Depression Scale for Schizophrenia.
(1) 26.8% of the patients had a substantial favorable SR, and 12.4% of the patients experienced a substantial dysphoric SR during treatment with amisulpride. (2) Modest positive associations were found between SR and 4 weeks change on symptom subscales (r = 0.268–0.390, p values < 0.001). (3) Baseline affective symptoms contributed to the prediction of subjective remission, demographic characteristics did not. Lower start dosage of amisulpride was associated with a more favorable SR (r = −0.215, p < 0.001).
We conclude that variation in individual proneness for an unfavorable SR is substantial and only modestly associated with symptomatic response. We need earlier identification of those most at risk for unfavorable SR and research into interventions to improve SR to antipsychotic medication in those at risk.
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.
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.
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).
There is heterogeneity in the associations between specific antipsychotics and subsequent arrests and convictions for any drug-related and violent crimes.
The extent and profiles of heterogeneity in cognitive functioning among participants in clinical trials of antidementia medication are unknown. We aimed to quantify and identify profiles of heterogeneity of cognition in Alzheimer’s disease.
Individual-level participant data were analyzed from five pivotal clinical trials of donepezil for Alzheimer’s disease (N = 2,919). Based on Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale–Cognitive Subscale total scores from baseline up to week 12, a latent class model was used to identify heterogeneous groups. A logistic regression model was used to examine factors associated with group membership. Sensitivity analysis was conducted, restricted to the donepezil, and then the placebo arm.
The latent class model identified three classes labeled as low scorers (i.e., least cognitive impairment; N = 1,666, 76.04%), improvers (N = 27, 1.23%), and high scorers (N = 498, 22.73%). Logistic modeling showed that donepezil compared to placebo was significantly (p < 0.05) positively associated with membership in the improvers class (OR = 6.88, 95% CI = 2.03, 42.95), and negatively with high scorers (OR = 0.79, 95% CI = 0.64, 0.98). Sensitivity analysis restricted to the placebo, then donepezil arms replicated similar heterogeneity patterns.
Our results inform clinicians regarding the extent of heterogeneity in cognitive functioning during treatment and contribute to trial design considerations.
Patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders (SSD) have worse physical health and reduced life expectancy compared to the general population. In 2009, the European Psychiatric Association, the European Society of Cardiology and the European Association for the Study of Diabetes published a position paper aimed to improve cardiovascular and diabetes care in patients with severe mental illnesses. However, the initiative did not produce the expected results. Experts in SSD or in cardiovascular and metabolic diseases convened to identify main issues relevant to management of cardiometabolic risk factors in schizophrenia patients and to seek consensus through the Delphi method.
The steering committee identified four topics: 1) cardiometabolic risk factors in schizophrenia patients; 2) cardiometabolic risk factors related to antipsychotic treatment; 3) differences in antipsychotic cardiometabolic profiles; 4) management of cardiometabolic risk. Twelve key statements were included in a Delphi questionnaire delivered to a panel of expert European psychiatrists.
Consensus was reached for all statements with positive agreement higher than 85% in the first round. European psychiatrists agreed on: 1) high cardiometabolic risk in patients with SSD, 2) importance of correct risk management of cardiometabolic diseases, from lifestyle modification to treatment of risk factors, including the choice of antipsychotic drugs with a favourable cardiometabolic profile. The expert panel identified the psychiatrist as the central coordinating figure of management, possibly assisted by other specialists and general practitioners.
This study demonstrates high level of agreement among European psychiatrists regarding the importance of cardiovascular risk assessment and management in subjects with SSD.
Comparisons of antipsychotics with placebo can be biased by unblinding due to side effects. Therefore, this meta-analysis compared the efficacy of antipsychotics for acute schizophrenia in trials using barbiturates or benzodiazepines as active placebos.
Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in acute schizophrenia with at least 3 weeks duration and comparing any antipsychotic with barbiturates or benzodiazepines were eligible. ClinicalTrials.gov, CENTRAL, EMBASE, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, PubMed, WHO-ICTRP as well as previous reviews were searched up to 9 January 2018. Two separate meta-analyses, one for barbiturates and one for benzodiazepines, were conducted using random-effects models. The primary outcome was response to treatment, and mean values of schizophrenia rating scales and dropouts were analyzed as secondary outcomes. This study is registered with PROSPERO (CRD42018086263).
Seven barbiturate-RCTs (number of participants n = 1736), and two benzodiazepine-RCTs (n = 76) were included in the analysis. The studies were published between 1960 and 1968 and involved mainly chronically ill patients. More patients on antipsychotics in comparison to barbiturates achieved a ‘good’ response (36.2% v. 16.8%; RR 2.15; 95% CI 1.36–3.41; I2 = 48.9) and ‘any’ response (57.4% v. 27.8%; RR 2.07; 95% CI 1.35–3.18; I2 = 68.2). In a single small trial (n = 60), there was no difference between antipsychotics and benzodiazepines on ‘any’ response (74.7% v. 65%; RR 1.15; 95% CI 0.82–1.62).
Antipsychotic drugs were more efficacious than barbiturates, based on a large sample size. Response ratios were similar to those observed in placebo-controlled trials. The results on benzodiazepines were inconclusive due to the small number of studies and participants.
The Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAMD) and the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) are the most frequently used observer-rated and self-report scales of depression, respectively. It is important to know what a given total score or a change score from baseline on one scale means in relation to the other scale.
We obtained individual participant data from the randomised controlled trials of psychological and pharmacological treatments for major depressive disorders. We then identified corresponding scores of the HAMD and the BDI (369 patients from seven trials) or the BDI-II (683 patients from another seven trials) using the equipercentile linking method.
The HAMD total scores of 10, 20 and 30 corresponded approximately with the BDI scores of 10, 27 and 42 or with the BDI-II scores of 13, 32 and 50. The HAMD change scores of −20 and −10 with the BDI of −29 and −15 and with the BDI-II of −35 and −16.
The results can help clinicians interpret the HAMD or BDI scores of their patients in a more versatile manner and also help clinicians and researchers evaluate such scores reported in the literature or the database, when scores on only one of these scales are provided. We present a conversion table for future research.
There is a debate about long-term treatment of schizophrenia with antipsychotic drugs, with some experts suggesting that these drugs should be discontinued. In this issue, Takeuchi et al demonstrated by a meta-analysis of 11 trials that antipsychotic drugs maintained their efficacy for relapse prevention for 1 year, whereas patients on placebo kept getting worse. We consider these findings in the light of the current discussion about possible dose-related brain volume loss, supersensitivity psychosis, the high variability of results in long-term follow-up studies and recent approaches to discontinue antipsychotics in patients with a first-episode. The new findings speak in favour of continuing antipsychotics at the same dose, at least in patients whose condition is chronic, but the topic is complex.
Despite evidence for their comparable efficacy, psychotherapy faces a dramatic decline relative to pharmacotherapy in psychiatry. A deep ideological reason for this decline centres on the belief that psychotherapy is a psychosocial treatment whereas pharmacotherapy is a biological treatment. Modern cognitive neuroscience demonstrates that this distinction is a myth.
This chapter presents the authors' interpretation of the core evidence about the pharmacological treatment of schizophrenia. It summarizes the interpretation of the discussion about second-generation antipsychotics (SGAs) versus first-generation antipsychotics (FGAs), and which is the best SGA, mainly based on recent systematic reviews and effectiveness studies CATIE. The author interprets the meta-analyses such that overall clozapine, amisulpride, olanzapine and risperidonemay be somewhat more efficacious than FGAs and other SGAs. Depressive symptoms are frequently present in acutely ill patients with schizophrenia and may first improve with antipsychotics alone. Neuroleptic-induced depressive symptoms might be ruled out by anti-parkinson medication or switching to a drug with fewer extrapyramidal side-effects (EPS). Post-psychotic depression may be treated with an antidepressant. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is recommended only as a last resort, but advantageously compared with the other augmentation strategies, it is effective as monotherapy and has a different mechanism of action than antipsychotics.
Background: Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) is a relatively rare disease compared to Alzheimer' disease (AD), but nevertheless causes higher burden and stress to caregivers. Only little is known about the problems and needs of the caregivers of patients with FTLD. Such information is crucial for the development of caregiver support interventions. The aim of the current study is to systematically review publications on (1) burden, problems, and needs of FTLD caregivers, and (2) the feasibility and efficacy of caregiver interventions in FTLD.
Methods: A systematic review was conducted. Medical, psychological, and social sciences databases were searched for publications on burden, problems, needs of FTLD caregivers, and support interventions.
Results: Very little published data are available on burden, problems, and needs of FTLD caregivers. Burden among FTLD caregivers is higher than among AD caregivers and correlated with neuropsychiatric symptoms. Specific problems include delayed diagnosis, young age of patients, behavioral disturbances, lack of information and suitable care facilities, caregivers' depression, social isolation, and neglect of personal needs. Hardly any literature is available on the actual needs of FTLD caregivers. Regarding interventions for caregivers, no randomized controlled trials exist. Eight publications could be identified that provide narrative reports on structured caregiver support groups or respite care in combination with caregiver support intervention or advanced practice nursing.
Conclusion: More research and funding are needed to elucidate the complex construct of burden of FTLD caregivers to identify and quantify their problems and needs in order to develop helpful interventions and services.
The efficacy of psychopharmacological treatments has been called into question. Psychiatrists are unfamiliar with the effectiveness of common medical drugs.
To put the efficacy of psychiatric drugs into the perspective of that of major medical drugs.
We searched Medline and the Cochrane Library for systematic reviews on the efficacy of drugs compared with placebo for common medical and psychiatric disorders, and systematically presented the effect sizes for primary efficacy outcomes.
We included 94 meta-analyses (48 drugs in 20 medical diseases, 16 drugs in 8 psychiatric disorders). There were some general medical drugs with clearly higher effect sizes than the psychotropic agents, but the psychiatric drugs were not generally less efficacious than other drugs.
Any comparison of different outcomes in different diseases can only serve the purpose of a qualitative perspective. The increment of improvement by drug over placebo must be viewed in the context of the disease's seriousness, suffering induced, natural course, duration, outcomes, adverse events and societal values.
The classification system of atypical and typical antipsychotics has created a lot of confusion and might be abandoned. Nevertheless, to say that all drugs are the same and that therefore it does not matter which drug is given is wrong. Both typical and atypical antipsychotics differ in side-effects, mechanisms of action, cost and efficacy. The available choice of antipsychotics should be adapted to individual patients in a shared decision-making process.
Background: Cognitive stimulation, training or rehabilitation can achieve modest, skill-specific gains in cognitively healthy older adults. With regard to the limited efficacy of currently available anti-dementia drugs it is crucial to investigate whether such treatments also provide clinically meaningful benefits to cognitively impaired older individuals.
Methods: We conducted a systematic review of randomized controlled trials evaluating cognition-focused interventions in participants with mild cognitive impairment or dementia. Meta-analytic strategies were used to calculate effect sizes.
Results: Cognition-focused interventions confer small and inconsistent effects on trained cognitive skills which, according to some studies, translate into gains on general cognitive ability. Instruments measuring such effects such as the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) or the Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale, cognitive part (ADAS-Cog) show standardized mean differences of 0.20 and 0.30, respectively, which are comparable with those of current antidementia drug treatments. However, convincing evidence of clinical significance was only obtained from single trials in terms of delay of cognitive decline, improvement in activities of daily living, or enhanced attainment of personally relevant goals.
Conclusions: The potential of cognition-focused interventions has probably been obscured by the methodological inconsistencies and limitations of the clinical studies conducted thus far. Further randomized controlled trials on the efficacy of these treatment modalities are required using optimized and consistent methods. Emphasis should be placed on tailoring interventions to individual needs and resources while maintaining a high level of standardization, on implementing newly acquired skills and strategies in the everyday context, on appropriate treatment duration, and on including person-centered outcomes.