Data from the literature suggests that some first episode psychosis (FEP) patients may recover without antipsychotic medication. There is however no reliable way to identify them. In a previous paper we found, in a cohort of 584 FEP patients, that those consistently refusing medication had poorer pre-morbid functioning, less insight, higher rate of substance use and poorer outcome. However, some medication refusers, had a favourable outcome. The study aim was to identify predictors of good short term outcome despite non-exposure to medication.
The Early Psychosis Prevention and Intervention Centre (EPPIC) admitted 786 FEP patients between 1998 and 2000. Data were collected from patients' files using a standardized questionnaire. Data on medication adherence was available in 584 patients. Among the 17.9% of patients who consistently refused medication over the entire treatment phase we compared patients who had a favourable symptomatic and functional outcome with those who did not.
Among patients who consistently refused medication, 41% achieved symptomatic remission and 33% reached functional recovery. Predictors of symptomatic remission were a better premorbid functioning level, higher education and employment status at baseline. Predictors of functional recovery were a shorter duration of the prodrome phase, less severe psychopathology at baseline and lower cannabis use.
Despite limitations mainly linked to the fact that non-exposure to antipsychotic medication was based on patient's treatment refusal, this study identified some characteristics which may contribute to the identification of a sub-group of FEP patients who may have good short term outcome without antipsychotic treatment.
http://sci-hub.cc/10.1016/j.schres.2016.12.029 (Full article)