Research highlights concerns causing people to be ‘trapped’ on long terms prescriptions of antipsychotic medications

Research published last month casts light on the causes of gaps in care for patients living with serious mental illness. Whilst the prescribing of antipsychotic medications (APMs) has increased, the report revealed that 32% of patients are not receiving medical reviews to manage the known risks associated with them.

Our residents and participants have articulated their experiences of managing difficult side effects of APMs, with fears about the long term implications on their mental and physical health, whilst many have  experienced their requests for reviews dismissed by professionals.

The University of Liverpool conducted research amongst medical professionals and found gaps in capacity between secondary and primary care which result in psychiatrists with insufficient training to monitor the serious physical health impact of APMs alongside GPs without the training to deprescribe these medications, as they cannot prescribe alternatives. Information barriers for medical professionals accessing patient history frustrate their attempts to find solutions.

Researchers also identified bias against patients from professionals who deem those with serious mental health issues as lacking capacity and desire to improve or manage their health. Some professionals were able to correlate stigmatised views of those managing serious mental health by statutory organisations directly with the health inequalities experienced by patients.

Providing additional training for both GPs and psychiatrists that empowers them to make best interest decisions in prescribing medications and to manage patient aftercare safely, is a simple and cost-effective solution that can be implemented immediately. Long term, we join with researchers and professionals in highlighting socioeconomic deprivation and lack of access to non-pharmacological interventions as vital areas that must be addressed as drivers of overprescribing of APMs.

New research urges for policy changes in antipsychotic medication management

Raje Ballagan-Evans, Policy and Impact Manager