Patient characteristics and process factors associated with antipsychotic polypharmacy in a nationwide sample of psychiatric inpatients in Italy

Psychiatric Unit, United Hospitals of Ancona and Polytechnic University of Marche, Ancona, Italy.
Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety (Impact Factor: 2.94). 05/2011; 20(5):441-9. DOI: 10.1002/pds.2083
Source: PubMed


The present study investigated: (i) the rate of prescription of antipsychotic (AP) polypharmacy (APP) in a large, representative sample of psychiatric inpatients; and (ii) the relationship between APP prescription and the characteristics of patients and facilities.
The sample included 1022 psychiatric patients scheduled to be discharged from acute inpatient facilities with drug therapies including AP. Demographic and clinical data were obtained from the treating physician or retrieved from patients' records through a standardized Patient Form. Patients were administered the 24-item Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale. Three indicators were used to describe the process of care in the facilities: a Restrictiveness score, a Standardization score, and a Treatment score. A multilevel mixed-effect logistic regression was used to predict APP using patient and facility as the variables.
APP was prescribed to 333 (32.5%) patients, the most common patterns being a first-generation and a second-generation AP (n = 178, 17.6%) or of two first-generation APs (n = 80, 7.8%). Patients with a diagnosis of schizophrenia and poorer insight into illness at admission were significantly more likely to receive APP. The availability of more complex therapeutic interventions in the facility was also associated with APP.
In our nationwide sample of psychiatric inpatients, APP was frequently prescribed to treat the more severe patients. However, it was also associated with process of care characteristics such as delivery of more complex therapeutic interventions, and was therefore not used only to control patient behavior.

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    • "Therefore, many schizophrenia treatment guidelines emphasize antipsychotic monotherapy as a first principle.5,6,7) However, antipsychotic polypharmacy is very common in real clinical practice and previous studies have found a broad range of antipsychotic polypharmacy rates (4.1-48.0%)2,8,9,10,11,12) depending on the study method and characteristics of the patient group. "
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    ABSTRACT: Objective This study investigated the prescription patterns for Korean patients with schizophrenia with a particular focus on antipsychotic polypharmacy. All data were gathered from patients presenting at 41 tertiary university hospitals and 8 secondary hospitals. Methods Data from three multicenter studies conducted in Korea were retrospectively reviewed and integrated to identify patients with schizophrenia who had their antipsychotic medication switched to paliperidone extended-release between 2008 and 2009. The rates for antipsychotic polypharmacy, combined use of different antipsychotic classes with a special focus on atypical antipsychotics, and psychotropic polypharmacy using benzodiazepines, mood stabilizers, and other relevant drugs were identified. Results Of the 851 Korean patients analyzed in this study, 20.4% (n=173) had been prescribed antipsychotic polypharmacy. Of the 678 patients receiving antipsychotic monotherapy, 6.9% (n=47) were prescribed a typical antipsychotic and 93.1% (n=631) were prescribed an atypical antipsychotic. Of the 173 patients receiving a combination of antipsychotic drugs, only 6.4% (n=11) had been prescribed polypharmacy with typical antipsychotics, while 46.82% (n=81) were prescribed atypical+atypical antipsychotics or typical+atypical antipsychotics. The highest co-prescription rates for other psychotropic drugs in conjunction with antipsychotics included benzodiazepines (30.3%), anticholinergic drugs (28.8%), antidepressants (13.3%), β-blockers (10.1%), and mood stabilizers (8.7%). Conclusion The present findings demonstrate that the rate of antipsychotic polypharmacy is relatively low in Korea and that Korean clinicians prefer to prescribe atypical, rather than typical, antipsychotic drugs. This suggests that there is a distinct prescription pattern in Korea that is focused on antipsychotic polypharmacy.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2014 · Clinical Psychopharmacology and Neuroscience
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    • "ISRN Pharmacology inpatient facilities, antipsychotic polypharmacy was recorded in one third of the patients [4], irrespective of the diagnosis. Overall, variable but yet substantial rates of antipsychotic polypharmacy have been described, depending on the sample composition and setting [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background. Antipsychotic polypharmacy is used in several psychiatric disorders, despite poor evidence existing to support this practice. Aim. We evaluated whether psychotic patients in acute relapse exposed to antipsychotic polypharmacy (AP + AP) showed different demographic, clinical, or psychopathological features compared to those exposed to one antipsychotic (AP) and whether AP + AP patients showed significantly higher improvement compared to AP patients after a 4-week treatment. Methods. Inpatients were subdivided into AP + AP and AP ones. In the cross-sectional step, patients were compared according to demographics, clinical variables, and scores on rating scales. In the longitudinal step, patients remained for 4 weeks under admission medications and were compared for clinical improvement. Results. AP + AP patients were more frequently diagnosed with schizophrenia and mental retardation as a comorbid illness. AP + AP patients were more frequently under first-generation antipsychotics and had worse clinical presentation. After 4 weeks of treatment, both AP + AP and AP patients improved compared to the baseline. However, AP patients scored significantly less than AP + AP patients at the Clinical Global Impression Scale at the 4-week time point but not at the baseline, indicating a treatment-specific improvement. Conclusions. Antipsychotic polypharmacy may be offered to specific types of psychotic patients. However, efficacy of this strategy is limited at best.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2014
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    • "This trend was confirmed in three other American studies [7] [8] [9]. The relatively high proportion of polypharmacy in the treatment of schizophrenic patients was also observed in European countries, including Italy 27–33% [10] [11], France 42% [12] and Norway 35.6% [13]. Data from 45 hospitals in Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, The Netherlands and Scotland also showed that an average 42.1% of patients were prescribed two AP's [14]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background The term antipsychotic polypharmacy (APP) refers to the concurrent use of two or more antipsychotic drugs in schizophrenia. The aim of this study was to investigate the range of APP in schizophrenic patients discharged from psychiatric units in Poland, and to determine its demographical and clinical correlates. Methods Data on the pharmacological treatment of 207 patients with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, discharged from six psychiatric hospitals from September–December 2011 were recorded by experienced psychiatrists. Clinical and demographical information was obtained on each patient. The severity of symptoms at admission, and their improvement during hospitalization were assessed using the Clinical Global Impression Scale. Results At discharge, 52.7% of the patients were prescribed one, 42.5% two and 4.8% three antipsychotic drugs (AP). When two AP were applied, it was usually a combination of two second generation antipsychotics (SGA) (46%), or of both first generation antipsychotics (FGA) and SGA (48%). The SGA's olanzapine and risperidone were those most commonly prescribed. Patients treated with two or more AP had a higher number of previous hospitalizations than patients receiving antipsychotic monotherapy. Mood stabilizers were prescribed for nearly one third of the patients, while antidepressants and benzodiazepines were prescribed for fewer than 10%. Conclusions The prevalence of polypharmacy in Poland is similar to that reported in other countries. This may suggest that, in a substantial proportion of schizophrenic patients clinical response to the antipsychotic monotherapy is unsatisfactory. Further studies focusing on the efficacy and safety of strategies in the treatment of patients with schizophrenia not responding to antipsychotic monotherapy are necessary.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2014 · Pharmacological reports: PR
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