The treatment of schizophrenia: Making it work

Published: June, 2007

We know a great deal about how to care for people with schizophrenia, but often that knowledge is difficult to act on. Insufficient resources and an inefficient public health system are partly responsible, but an equally serious problem is that patients with schizophrenia don't consistently take an interest in their treatment. They stop taking their medications, miss their appointments, and lose touch with mental health professionals and others who might help them.

This lack of compliance with (or adherence to) treatment greatly increases the cost of care and the risk of homelessness and suicide. It is probably the most important cause of relapse leading to hospitalization. In one study, patients with schizophrenia who quit taking their medication were almost five times more likely to relapse over a five-year period. Even gaps of a few days increased the risk of hospitalization.

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