Objective: The aim of this paper is to survey patterns of use of new generation and conventional antipsychosis and adjunctive drugs by an inner urban community psychiatric service.
Method: All prescriptions for antipsychosis medications and all patients receiving these drugs in May 1998 were identified. Case record review yielded demographic and diagnostic data. Information was also obtained directly from prescribers.
Results: Of 859 patients, 77% received antipsychosis medication; 53% of prescriptions for antipsychotics were for new generation drugs: risperidone (42%), olanzapine (37%) and clozapine (21%). Mean doses were 4.1 ± 2.5 mg (risperidone), 14.7 ± 8.2 mg (olanzapine) and 377.4 ± 178.9 mg (clozapine). Doses for men tended to be higher than those for women, but the differences were not significant. DSM-IV diagnosis was schizophrenia for 74% of patients on atypicals, but patients with other diagnoses were also being treated with these drugs. Risperidone was more commonly used in combination with benzodiazepines and anticholinergics than olanzapine and clozapine, while clozapine was less likely to be combined with antidepressants and mood stabilisers. Of the conventionals, 66% were in depot form, mostly because of non-compliance. Combinations of antipsychotics were prescribed to 13% of patients.
Conclusion: New generation antipsychosis medications were prescribed more commonly than conventional drugs in this service for a wide range of diagnoses. Adjunctive medications were commonly utilised. These findings underline the clinical complexity of antipsychotic treatment in a changing environment.