Discontinuation of antipsychotics in individuals with first-episode schizophrenia and its association to functional outcomes, hospitalization and death: a register-based nationwide follow-up study

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Background Discontinuation of antipsychotic medication may be linked to high risk of relapse, hospitalization and mortality. This study investigated the use and discontinuation of antipsychotics in individuals with first-episode schizophrenia in relation to cohabitation, living with children, employment, hospital admission and death. Methods Danish registers were used to establish a nationwide cohort of individuals > 18 years with schizophrenia included at the time of diagnosis in1995-2013. Exposure was antipsychotic medication calculated using defined daily dose and redeemed prescriptions year 2-5. Outcomes year 5-6 were analysed using binary logistic, negative binomial and Cox proportional hazard regression. Results Among 21 351, 9.3% took antipsychotics continuously year 2-5, 38.6% took no antipsychotics, 3.4% sustained discontinuation and 48.7% discontinued and resumed treatment. At follow-up year 6, living with children or employment was significantly higher in individuals with sustained discontinuation (OR 1.98, 95% CI 1.53-2.56 and OR 2.60, 95% CI 1.91-3.54), non-sustained discontinuation (OR 1.25, 95% CI 1.05-1.48 and 2.04, 95% CI 1.64-2.53) and no antipsychotics (OR 2.00, 95% CI 1.69-2.38 and 5.64, 95% CI 4.56-6.97) compared to continuous users. Individuals with non-sustained discontinuation had more psychiatric hospital admissions (IRR 1.27, 95% CI 1.10-1.47) and longer admissions (IRR 1.68, 95% CI 1.30-2.16) year 5-6 compared to continuous users. Mortality during year 5-6 did not differ between groups. Conclusion Most individuals with first-episode schizophrenia discontinued or took no antipsychotics the first years after diagnosis and had better functional outcomes. Non-sustained discontinuers had more, and longer admissions compared to continuous users. However, associations found could be either cause or effect.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychological Medicine
Issue number11
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2023

    Research areas

  • Antipsychotics, discontinuation, first-episode schizophrenia, function, hospitalization, mortality, PSYCHOTIC SYMPTOMS, MEDICATION, MORTALITY, REMISSION, COHORT, DRUGS

ID: 314275387