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Shared Decision Making and Long-Term Outcome in Schizophrenia Treatment

J Clin Psychiatry 2007;68(7):992-997

Objective: Compliance with antipsychotic medication is a major issue in schizophrenia treatment, and noncompliance with antipsychotic treatment is closely related to relapse and rehospitalization. An enhanced involvement of patients with schizophrenia in treatment decisions ("shared decision making") is expected to improve long-term compliance and reduce rehospitalizations. The aim of the present analysis was to study whether shared decision making (SDM) in antipsychotic drug choice would influence long-term outcome.

Method: From February 2003 to January 2004, psychiatric state hospital inpatients with a diagnosis of schizophrenia (ICD-10; N = 107) were recruited for the trial using a cluster-randomized controlled design. An SDM program on antipsychotic drug choice consisting of a decision aid and a planning talk between patient and physician was compared with routine care with respect to long-term compliance and rehospitalizations (6-month and 18-month follow-up).

Results: On the whole, we found high rates of noncompliance and rehospitalization. There were no differences between intervention and control groups in the univariate analyses. However, when controlling for confounding factors in a multivariate analysis, there was a positive trend (p = .08) that patients in the SDM intervention had fewer rehospitalizations. Additionally, a higher desire of the patient for autonomy and better knowledge at discharge were associated with higher hospitalization rates.

Conclusion: The intervention studied showed a positive trend but no clear beneficial effect on long-term outcomes. A more thorough implementation of SDM (e.g., iterative administration of decision aid) might yield larger effects. Those patients with higher participation preferences are at higher risk for poor treatment outcomes and therefore require special attention. Strategies to match these patients' needs might improve compliance and long-term outcomes.​