Schizophrenia: attitudes of patients and professional carers towards the illness and antipsychotic medication.
Rettenbacher MA., Burns T., Kemmler G., Fleischhacker WW.
BACKGROUND: Non-compliance with antipsychotic medication is known to be one of the major reasons for relapse in patients with schizophrenia. Carers might be able to reduce noncompliance by enhancing the patient's knowledge about the illness and antipsychotic medication and by carrying out regular benefit/risk discussions concerning the treatment plan, thereby improving the patient's attitudes towards pharmacological treatment. METHODS: In this cross-sectional study we used a semistructured interview to investigate the attitudes towards the illness and antipsychotic medication of patients with schizophrenia and of medical and non-medical professionals involved in their treatment. An array of 24 outpatients with schizophrenia, 21 psychiatrists, 26 nurses and 42 non-medical health professionals were investigated. RESULTS: We found compliance in 54.2%, partial compliance in 8.3% and non-compliance in 37.5% of patients. More patients than carers judged other disorders like epilepsy and diabetes to be worse than schizophrenia. Patients stated more often, that they would not encourage a relative to take antipsychotic medication. An extent of 71.4% of psychiatrists and 35% of non-medical professionals reported a general willingness to take antipsychotic medication themselves, if they were to suffer from schizophrenia. CONCLUSIONS: Our results indicate that the attitude of carers is not only different from patients but also remarkably heterogeneous within the group of carers. This needs to be taken into account when planning compliance-enhancing measures.