Educating psychiatrists about appropriate prescribing guidelines for patients with schizophrenia did not reduce the incidence of inappropriate prescribing, according to a study in Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology. In addition, educating the same psychiatrists and patients about healthy lifestyle habits did not reduce levels of obesity in the patients.
Conducted by psychiatric researchers in Denmark, the study involved 174 patients diagnosed with “severe mental illnesses” and staff across six different psychiatric facilities. Most of the patients were receiving multiple psychiatric medications, many known to cause obesity, and most of the patients were overweight.
Three of the facilities functioned as controls, and at the other three facilities, over the course of one year, independent experts conducted reviews and evaluated patients’ medications alongside staff relative to Danish National Board of Health guidelines. They also “provided training lectures to the staff about the use of antipsychotic medicine” according to the same guidelines. Simultaneously, the team provided regular training sessions on healthy eating and lifestyle habits to both staff and patients.
“The intervention showed no significant differences between the intervention and control group regarding psychotropic treatment,” the reseachers concluded. “We found both a high prevalence of obesity and that the patients received treatment with antipsychotic polypharmaceutics in high dosages. Active awareness did not change practice and we must think of other ways to restrict treatment with psychotropics in this group of patients.”
(Abstract) Reducing psychotropic pharmacotherapy in patients with severe mental illness: a cluster-randomized controlled intervention study (Hjorth, Peter et al. Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology. Published online before print January 7, 2015. doi: 10.1177/2045125314565361)