NYMC Faculty Publications

Does Antipsychotic Combination Therapy Reduce the Risk of Hospitalization in Schizophrenia?

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Expert Opinion on Pharmacotherapy

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Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences


INTRODUCTION: : Despite treatment with antipsychotic medication, approximately 1/3 of individuals with schizophrenia will fail to have an adequate response. To treat these patients, a commonly utilized approach is antipsychotic combination therapy. Antipsychotic combination therapy is controversial with mixed efficacy and tolerability results. It is also unclear if antipsychotic combination therapy reduces or increases the risk of psychiatric hospitalization.

AREAS COVERED: : The authors review the prevalence, efficacy and tolerability concerns, and rationale behind antipsychotic combination therapy. Evidence comparing antipsychotic monotherapy vs polypharmacy using hospitalization as an outcome measure is summarized.

EXPERT OPINION: : Psychiatric rehospitalization is a useful measure of treatment effectiveness, incorporating aspects of treatment efficacy and tolerability. The evidence comparing the impact of antipsychotic monotherapy vs combination therapy on rehospitalization is mixed. Evidence is primarily retrospective in nature, and there is high heterogeneity between studies, which could partially explain the mixed results. There is likely a subset of patients for whom antipsychotic combination therapy reduces the risk of hospitalization greater than antipsychotic monotherapy. Patients should be treated individually taking into account their specific pattern of response.