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Original Research

Antipsychotic-Free Status in Community-Dwelling Patients With Schizophrenia in China: Comparisons Within and Between Rural and Urban Areas

Cai-Lan Hou, MD, PhD; Miao-Yang Chen, MD; Mei-Ying Cai, MD; Zi-Lang Chen, MD; Shou-Bin Cai, MD; Yao-Nan Xiao, MD; and Fu-Jun Jia, MD, PhD

Published: April 10, 2018

Article Abstract

Objective: To date, no study has specifically compared antipsychotic-free patients with schizophrenia living in the community between rural and urban areas. This study examined the rural-urban differences among antipsychotic-free community-dwelling individuals with schizophrenia in China.

Methods: Data on 1,365 community-dwelling patients with schizophrenia (n = 742 in a rural area and n = 623 in an urban area) with diagnoses according to DSM-IV or ICD-10 were collected by interviews during 2013-2014 and 2015-2016. Data on patients’ sociodemographic and clinical characteristics, prescriptions of psychotropic drugs, and antipsychotic treatment status were recorded using a standardized protocol and data collection procedure.

Results: The prevalence of antipsychotic-free status in the total sample (N = 1,365) was 27.3%; the proportion of antipsychotic-free patients was significantly lower (17.5%) in the urban area (17.5%) than in the rural area (35.4%; χ2 = 55.03, P < .001). Binary logistic regression analysis revealed that antipsychotic-free patients, whether from the urban area or the rural area, were older (P = .001, odds ratio [OR] = 0.95 in urban; P = .006, OR = 0.97 in rural) and had poorer attitude toward medication treatment (P < .001, OR = 1.21 in urban; P < .001, OR = 1.31 in rural). Antipsychotic-free patients from the urban area also had fewer admissions, lower education level, and greater likelihood of living by themselves. Antipsychotic-free patients from the rural area also had worse insight into the disease, fewer anxiety symptoms, more prominent positive symptoms, and lower body mass index and were more likely to be women.

Conclusions: Antipsychotic-free status was more common in community-dwelling patients with schizophrenia in the rural area than in the urban area. Older age and poorer attitude toward medication treatment were common features of antipsychotic-free patients. There were correspondingly different risk factors for antipsychotic-free status between rural and urban areas. Building a positive medication treatment attitude is an important strategy for establishing medication adherence in older, community-dwelling patients with schizophrenia.

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