Depot neuroleptics, schizophrenia and the role of the nurse: is practice evidence based? A review of the literature
Nurses are expected to justify their practice with research based evidence. Community psychiatric nurses (CPNs) are under pressure to concentrate more on the ‘seriously mentally ill’, particularly those with a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Neuroleptic medicines are a recommended therapy in schizophrenia. The administration and monitoring of these drugs is a central part of the CPN’s role. The CPN also often assumes an important position as patient advocate in relation to prescribing practices. Neuroleptics are commonly given in depot form to promote compliance, prevent relapse and be of benefit to the patient. This literature review considers the research evidence that these aims are achieved through current practice and reflects on the implications for nursing. In the absence of definitive research work, it may be that important decisions are based on received wisdom rather than research evidence. Whilst the data supporting the use of depots are inconclusive, there is an increasing body of knowledge demonstrating the efficacy of nursing approaches to drug therapy which seek to empower the patient.