Psychol Med. 2023 Mar 10:1-9. doi: 10.1017/S0033291723000429. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Patients with remitted psychosis face a dilemma between the wish to discontinue antipsychotics and the risk of relapse. We test if an operationalized guided-dose-reduction algorithm can help reach a lower effective dose without increased risks of relapse.
METHODS: A 2-year open-label randomized prospective comparative cohort trial from Aug 2017 to Sep 2022. Patients with a history of schizophrenia-related psychotic disorders under stable medications and symptoms were eligible, randomized 2:1 into guided dose reduction group (GDR) v. maintenance treatment group (MT1), together with a group of naturalistic maintenance controls (MT2). We observed if the relapse rates would be different between 3 groups, to what extent the dose could be reduced, and if GDR patients could have improved functioning and quality of life.
RESULTS: A total of 96 patients, comprised 51, 24, and 21 patients in GDR, MT1, and MT2 groups, respectively. During follow-up, 14 patients (14.6%) relapsed, including 6, 4, and 4 from GDR, MT1, and MT2, statistically no difference between groups. In total, 74.5% of GDR patients could stay well under a lower dose, including 18 patients (35.3%) conducting 4 consecutive dose-tapering and staying well after reducing 58.5% of their baseline dose. The GDR group exhibited improved clinical outcomes and endorsed better quality of life.
CONCLUSIONS: GDR is a feasible approach as the majority of patients had a chance to taper antipsychotics to certain extents. Still, 25.5% of GDR patients could not successfully decrease any dose, including 11.8% experienced relapse, a risk comparable to their maintenance counterparts.