Aims and objectives. This research aimed to: (i) investigate the prevalence and perceived severity of antipsychotic side effects in people with schizophrenia and related disorders living in communities in Singapore; (ii) examine the relationship between antipsychotic variables (type, dose, route, prescription duration) and side effects; and (iii) examine the relationship between side effects and attitudes towards medication.
Background. Antipsychotics are the mainstay treatment in schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders. However, antipsychotics are associated with a wide range of side effects, which potentially have adverse effects on patients’ functioning. A lack of studies comparing the frequency of side effects and their associated levels of distress across multiple antipsychotics and different medication variables has been noted. Additionally, it is essential to assess patients’ attitudes towards antipsychotics in relation to their experience of side effects.
Design. A cross-sectional, non-experimental research design was used.
Method. A convenience sample of 96 adults with schizophrenia and related disorders on antipsychotic treatment and attending the hospital’s outpatient clinic was recruited. Variables collected included antipsychotic type, dose, route, prescription duration and side effects, attitudes towards medication and demographic and clinical variables. They were analysed with descriptive statistics and correlational analyses.
Results. Many participants experienced psychic (80·2%), extrapyramidal (69·8%) and miscellaneous side effects (61·5%). Side effects positively correlated with dose (p = 0·016) and negatively correlated with prescription duration (p = 0·014). Negative attitudes towards medication were positively correlated with side effects in general (p = 0·023), along with hormonal (p = 0·013) and psychic side effects (p = 0·008).
Conclusion. Findings revealed that majority of the participants experienced and were distressed over psychic, extrapyramidal and weight gain, which may be related to high doses and treatment duration. Additionally, patients experiencing psychic and hormonal side effects are at risk of developing negative attitudes towards medication.
Relevance to clinical practice. Findings guide the development of appropriate nursing interventions that aim to alleviate side effects, reduce negative attitudes towards medication and prevent compliance problems.