, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 97-107

Improving Treatment Adherence in Your Patients with Schizophrenia

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Abstract

Partial and non-adherence to medication is a common problem in schizophrenia, leading to an increased risk of relapse, increased likelihood of hospitalization and poorer long-term outcomes. In contrast, continuous medication in the treatment of schizophrenia is associated with positive outcomes, including improved clinical status, improved quality of life and functioning, and reduced risk of relapse and rehospitalization. Strategies aimed at improving medication adherence are therefore key for patients to achieve their treatment goals. In an attempt to address the issues of partial/non-adherence to antipsychotic medication in schizophrenia, a group of psychiatrists convened to discuss and develop a set of principles aimed at helping patients adhere to their medication. These principles were then refined and developed into the STAY (the Six principles to improve Treatment Adherence in Your patients) initiative following presentation to a wider group of psychiatrists from across Europe. This manuscript summarizes these principles and explains the rationale for their selection. These principles are: (1) recognizing that most patients with schizophrenia are at risk of partial/non-adherence at some time during the course of their illness; (2) the benefits of a good therapeutic alliance for identifying potential adherence issues; (3) tailored treatment plans to meet an individual’s needs, including the most suitable route of delivery of antipsychotic medication; (4) involving family/key persons in care and psychoeducation of the patient, assuming the patient agrees to this; (5) ensuring optimal effectiveness of care; and (6) ensuring continuity in the care of patients with schizophrenia. The application of these six principles should help to raise awareness of and address poor patient adherence, as well as generally improving care of patients with schizophrenia. In turn, this should lead to improved overall clinical outcomes for patients receiving long-term treatment for schizophrenia.