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Effectiveness of Antipsychotic Drugs for 24-Month Maintenance Treatment in First-Episode Schizophrenia: Evidence From a Community-Based “Real-World” Study

J Clin Psychiatry 2016;77(11):e1460–e1466

Objective: Maintenance treatment of schizophrenia with antipsychotic medications has become a standard for the prevention of psychotic relapse. However, little is known about the effectiveness of antipsychotic drugs for maintenance treatment in “real-world” populations with schizophrenia. We carried out a prospective study to assess the effectiveness of the most frequently prescribed antipsychotic drugs in the maintenance treatment of schizophrenia from 2 community settings.

Methods: This study was conducted from October 2011 to December 2014. All participants were diagnosed with schizophrenia according to DSM-IV, were treated with an antipsychotic monotherapy, and were registered in a case management program with monthly monitoring for 24 months. The primary outcome measure, Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS), and the Clinical Global Impressions-Severity of Illness (CGI-S) and -Improvement (CGI-I) scales were used to evaluate symptom severity and treatment response. The Personal and Social Performance scale (PSP) was used to evaluate the patients’ social functioning. The Medication Adherence Rating Scale (MARS) was used to assess medication adherence behavior. On the basis of antipsychotic used at baseline, patients were clustered into 7 groups: aripiprazole (n = 21), clozapine (n = 84), chlorpromazine (n = 61), olanzapine (n = 34), perphenazine (n = 21), quetiapine (n = 27), and risperidone (n = 99).

Results: Of the 347 patients enrolled in the study, 312 completed the 24-month follow-up. There were no significant differences among the treatment groups in the PANSS total and subscale scores or the CGI-S and CGI-I scores over 24 months (all P values > .05). There were also no significant differences in interactions between PSP scores and antipsychotic drugs (P = .17). The remission rates increased as the follow-time lapsed in all groups, but no significant difference was observed in remission rates at each time point among the 7 groups (P values > .05). At the endpoint, MARS total scores were over 6, but did not significantly differ among the studied drugs (P = .24).

Conclusions: These findings suggest that antipsychotic drugs can achieve equivalent effectiveness in maintenance treatment of first-episode schizophrenia through a well-organized case management program and family participation.