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Keywords:

  • schizophrenia;
  • elderly;
  • olanzapine;
  • risperidone;
  • clinical trial;
  • quality of life

Abstract

Background

Following an earlier study in which elderly patients with schizophrenia had their typical antipsychotic medication changed to olanzapine or risperidone, the 61 patients were followed for up to a further six months to see if either treatment was superior in terms of efficacy or side effects.

Aims

To determine whether either olanzapine or risperidone was superior in terms of efficacy or side effects when treating schizophrenia in late life.

Methods

Psychiatric symptoms, side effects and quality of life were rated every six weeks for 24 weeks of open label comparative treatment using standard measures. Group differences were examined using analysis of covariance and within-group changes over time were assessed using paired t-tests.

Results

There were 34 olanzapine and 32 risperidone patients who entered the study, but intention to treat data was only available for 61 of the 66 patients. There were no clinical or demographic differences between the groups. Parkinsonism, positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia improved in both groups both from baseline switch to olanzapine or risperidone and during the six month follow-up after completion of crossover. No significant differences were seen between groups on most measures. However, patients treated with olanzapine showed a significantly greater improvement in quality of life from baseline compared to risperidone patients.

Conclusions

Both drugs were well tolerated and their use was associated with fewer symptoms of schizophrenia and less adverse effects than were seen when the patients were taking a typical antipsychotic at baseline. Olanzapine appears to have particular benefit with regard to quality of life. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.