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Treatment Adherence in Schizophrenia and Schizoaffective Disorder

Donald C. Goff, MD; Michele Hill, MRC, Psych; and Oliver Freudenreich, MD

Published: April 15, 2011

Article Abstract

Medication nonadherence is common and difficult to detect in patients with schizoaffective disorder and schizophrenia. Roughly 50% of patients take less than 70% of prescribed doses. Many factors contribute to nonadherence, including poor illness insight, a negative attitude toward medication, substance abuse, and disorganization. Interventions to improve adherence consist of advising acceptance of illness, drawing analogies with treatment for chronic medical disease, and involving the patient in decision making. Clinicians must remain nonjudgmental, encouraging patients to disclose problems with adherence and anticipating that improvement in adherence may require a prolonged effort. Selection of medication is critical to avoid side effects and to provide a sense of well-being, which can result from improvement in insomnia, anxiety, or depression. Depot antipsychotics can improve adherence and provide the clinician with reliable information about the dosage of medication received for purposes of dose adjustments or to guide response to relapse.

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