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Schizophr Bull. 2013 Sep;39(5):960-1. doi: 10.1093/schbul/sbt096. Epub 2013 Jul 16.

Intermittent drug techniques for schizophrenia.

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University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK.


Intermittent drug techniques refer to the "use of medication only during periods of incipient relapse or symptom exacerbation rather than continuously." The aim is to reduce the risk of adverse effects of antipsychotics by "reducing long-term medication exposure for patients who are receiving maintenance treatment while limiting risk of relapse," with a further goal of improving social functioning resulting from the reduction of antipsychotic-induced side effects. We reviewed the effects of different intermittent drug techniques compared with maintenance treatment in people with schizophrenia or related disorders. We searched The Cochrane Schizophrenia Group Trials Register (April 2012) and supplemented this by contacting relevant study authors and manually searching reference lists. All relevant randomized controlled trials (RCTs) were included.Of 241 records retrieved by the search, 17 trials were included. Homogenous data demonstrated that instances of relapse were significantly higher in people receiving any intermittent drug treatment in the long term (n=436, 7 RCTs, RR=2.46, 95% CI=1.70- to 3.54). Intermittent treatment was shown to be more effective than placebo, however, and demonstrated that significantly less people receiving intermittent antipsychotics experienced full relapse by medium term (n=290, 2 RCTs, RR=0.37, 95% CI=0.24-0.58). Intermittent antipsychotic treatment is not as effective as continuous, maintained antipsychotic therapy for preventing relapse in people with schizophrenia. It does seem, however, significantly better than no treatment.


intermittent; meta-analysis; schizophrenia

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