BACKGROUND: Clozapine is the gold standard for treating treatment-resistant schizophrenia (TRS) although widely underutilised. Both organisational, patient- and clinician related reasons for the underutilisation have been reported, however, the clinical impact of either in real-world settings is not fully elucidated.
AIM: This audit aimed to evaluate the local antipsychotic (AP) prescribing practices for outpatients with schizophrenia and to assess the spectrum and prevalence of journalised reasons for non-clozapine treatment amongst eligible outpatients.
METHODS: Data on demographics, current and former AP treatments, as well as documented reasons for non-clozapine treatment, was extracted through chart audit.
RESULTS: Of the 668 affiliated outpatients with schizophrenia, 43% were treated with AP polytherapy (APP) and 19.6% with clozapine. The most prevalent reason for clozapine discontinuation was related to side effects whereas the most prevalent reason for refusal or omission of clozapine treatment was related to the associated monitoring regimen.
CONCLUSIONS: This audit showed that APP prescribing is a highly prevalent practice in our services when treating outpatients with schizophrenia and that clozapine is underutilised in a 'last resort' manner. The blood-monitoring regimen associated with clozapine treatment was found to be an important factor in the underutilisation. It seemed, however, that the monitoring constituted a barrier for different reasons, requiring different approaches to remedy. Future studies, directly involving both patients and clinicians in the identification and management of the most clinically relevant barriers and their corresponding facilitators, are warranted.