A cross-sectional observational study of healthcare professional views of factors affecting teenage adherence with antipsychotic medication

Ramdour, S., Duxbury, Joy orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-1772-6874, Becket, Gordon and Wilson, Sarah E orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-2875-0036 (2015) A cross-sectional observational study of healthcare professional views of factors affecting teenage adherence with antipsychotic medication. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 22 (7). pp. 491-501. ISSN 13510126

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jpm.12210


Accessible summary
Delays in effective treatment of a first episode psychosis can result in more severe symptoms, a longer time to achieve symptom control and a poorer quality of life; yet around 40% do not take antipsychotic medication as prescribed.
There is evidence that patients and staff have different perceptions of what affects adherence with medication. Research in adults suggests healthcare professionals and patients understand the importance of good insight in promoting adherence with medication for schizophrenia; however, healthcare staff may overestimate the impact of side effects and underestimate the importance of medication effectiveness. There is also some evidence to suggest that motivations to take prescribed medication may differ in first and multi-episode psychosis. This research therefore sought views of staff working with adolescents diagnosed with first episode psychosis about what factors affected adherence with antipsychotic medication.
Staff responding to the survey felt that young people were more likely to take medication if they felt it would make them better, prevent relapse and if they had a positive rapport with staff. As in an adult population, side effects, particularly weight gain, sedation and muscular side effects, were expressed as a common reason for poor adherence. Doctors and nurses assigned differing importance to parameters such as family views of medication, fear of admission and a preference for cannabis over medication suggesting that views may differ between professional groups
Views of young people will be obtained in the next phase of the research study to enable comparison with staff views and consideration of staff interventions to better promote medication adherence.


Antipsychotic medication is an effective treatment for first episode psychosis; yet 40% of patients do not take medication as prescribed. Previous research in adults with schizophrenia comparing healthcare professional and patient views suggests that while healthcare professionals recognize the importance of insight in promoting medication adherence, they underestimate the importance of medication efficacy and overestimate the impact of side effects. It was hypothesized that staff in this study would also recognize the importance of insight and positive medication attitudes in teenagers with psychosis, but overestimate the impact of side effects on medication adherence. This cross-sectional observational study sought staff views about factors affecting antipsychotic medication adherence in those aged between 14 and 18 years. An online survey was distributed and 60 responses were subsequently returned. Staff felt that good medication insight as well as positive relationships with staff were important determinants of good medication adherence. The most important influences of poor adherence were poor insight, side effects of medication and a wish to exert personal control around medication decisions. The results therefore confirmed the initial hypothesis. Published literature also provides support for some, but not all, of the staff views expressed in survey responses.

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