Positive and negative effects of antipsychotic medication: an international online survey of 832 recipients

As published in the March 1st 2019 edition of Drug Safety, this survey was conducted by John Read and James Williams. The abstract says:

“Background: Antipsychotic medication is currently the treatment of choice for psychosis, but few studies directly survey the first hand experience of recipients.

Objectives: To ascertain the experiences and opinions of users of an international sample of antipsychotic drugs regarding positive and negative effects.

Method: An online direct-to-consumer questionnaire was completed by 832 users of antipsychotics, from 30 countries – predominantly USA, UK and Australia. This is the largest such sample to date.


  • Over half (56%) thought the drugs reduced the problems they were prescribed for, but 27% thought they made them worse.
  • Slightly less people found the drugs generally ‘Helpful’ (41%) than found them ‘Unhelpful’ (43%).
  • While 35% reported that their ‘quality of life’ was ‘improved’, 54% reported that it was made ‘worse’.
  • The average number of adverse effects reported was 11, with an average of five at the ‘severe’ level.
  • Fourteen effects were reported by 57% or more participants, most commonly: ‘Drowsiness, feeling tired, sedation’ (92%), ‘Loss of motivation’ (86%), ‘Slowed thoughts’ (86%), and ‘Emotional numbing’ (85%).
  • Suicidality was reported to be a side effect by 58%.
  •  Older people reported particularly poor outcomes and high levels of adverse effects.
  • Duration of treatment was unrelated to positive outcomes but significantly related to negative outcomes.
  • Most respondents (70%) had tried to stop taking the drugs.

The most common reasons people wanted to stop were the side effects (64%) and worries about long-term physical health (52%). Most (70%) did not recall being told anything at all about side effects.

Conclusions Clinical implications are discussed, with a particular focus on the principles of informed consent, and involving patients in decision making about their own lives …”

Find out more from here.


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