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Original Research

Reasons for Antipsychotic Treatment Switch: A Systematic Retrospective Review of Prescription Records and Prescriber Notes

Daniel Guinart, MDa,b,c,d,*; Kaksha Varma, MDa; Yarden Segal, MDa; Nahal Talasazana; Christoph U. Correll, MDa,b,c,e; and John M. Kane, MDa,b,c

Published: September 5, 2022


Objective: Switching of antipsychotic medications, which are used for many psychiatric conditions, is common. However, reasons and clinical documentation of such switches have scarcely been studied.

Methods: A systematic, retrospective review of prescription records and prescriber notes was conducted to characterize reasons for and types of antipsychotic switches at one hospital during inpatient or outpatient care, starting August 1, 2017, until 270 antipsychotic switches with type and reasons were collected, as required by power analysis.

Results: After removing 7 cases in which quetiapine was switched to a non-antipsychotic agent, 263 antipsychotic switches involving 195 unique subjects (median age = 31 [interquartile range, 24–47] years; schizophrenia = 36.9%, bipolar disorder = 27.7%, schizoaffective disorder = 18.5%) were analyzed. Frequent reasons for antipsychotic switch were intolerability (45.7%) and inefficacy/clinical worsening (17.6%). Reasons did not differ by race (P = .2644), age (P = .0621), or insurance type (P = .2970), but differed heterogeneously regarding different reasons by sex (P = .004). The most common reported switches were from second-generation oral antipsychotics (SGA-OAPs) to other SGA-OAPs (N = 155, 58.9%), mostly due to tolerability or inefficacy; second-generation long-acting injectable antipsychotics (SGA-LAIs) to SGA-OAPs (11%), mostly due to intolerability, patient preference, or insurance coverage problems; and SGA-OAPs to SGA-LAIs (10.7%) due to nonadherence. Reasons for antipsychotic switch were properly documented in 208 (79.1%) of the prescriber notes.

Conclusions: In this retrospective chart review, switching varied by sex regarding reasons and occurred almost in half of the cases due to intolerability. Different reasons predominated in switches from SGA-OAP to SGA-OAP, SGA-LAI to SGA-OAP, and SGA-OAP to SGA-LAI. One in 5 switches were not properly documented, requiring attention.

Volume: 83

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