Several factors play a key role in whether individuals with schizophrenia take their medications, including the side effects and efficacy of the medication, according to a study recently published in BMC Psychiatry. This study underscores the clinical importance of addressing patients’ concerns when designing a treatment plan to maximize adherence.

This study included 250 participants with schizophrenia who were asked to complete a survey on age, height, gender, weight, and how much side effects and efficacy affect the decision of whether to take a medication. The 2 most important factors were side effects (83.6%) and efficacy (93.6%). The ability to think more lucidly was deemed important by 87.6% of participants. In addition, participants rated physical restlessness (60.8%), weight gain (61.6%), and somnolence (58.8%) as “very” or “most important.” Anticipation of weight gain was a significant factor, with 22.0% of individuals unlikely to try a new antipsychotic medication for which 6 to 10 lbs of weight gain was a risk, 34.0% for medications with an 11- to 20-lb risk, and 52.4% for medications with >20-lb weight gain risk.

The survey administered to participants was cross-sectional and was given out in 5 outpatient clinics in the United States. Participants were at least 18 years of age.

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The study researchers conclude that “[patients] living with schizophrenia spectrum disorders are influenced by many factors when considering whether to take their medication, including efficacy and side effects. It is important for clinicians to assess specific patient concerns to develop a comprehensive treatment plan that maximizes adherence to the prescribed therapy.”

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This study received funding from Alkermes, Inc., who was involved in the design of the study. For a full list of author disclosures, visit the reference.


Achtyes E, Simmons A, Skabeev A, et al. Patient preferences concerning the efficacy and side-effect profile of schizophrenia medications: a survey of patients living with schizophrenia. BMC Psychiatry. 2018;18(1):292.