The Atypical Antipsychotic Therapy and Metabolic Issues National Survey: Practice Patterns and Knowledge of Psychiatrists


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Abstract

A nationwide survey in 2003 of 300 randomly selected psychiatrists who routinely treat schizophrenia with atypical antipsychotic therapy was conducted to ascertain practice patterns and attitudes regarding metabolic disturbances during atypical antipsychotic therapy with an emphasis on how these perceptions impact therapeutic decision making. Psychiatrists generally believe that some atypical antipsychotic drugs are associated with metabolic disturbances and that atypical antipsychotics differ in their risk for metabolic disturbances. A majority of respondents (82%) believed that patients with schizophrenia-even those not receiving atypical antipsychotic therapy-are at greater risk for metabolic abnormalities than the general population. A majority of respondents recognized weight gain and diabetes mellitus (59% and 51%, respectively) as potential metabolic complications of atypical antipsychotic therapy, while only some recognized dyslipidemia and certain acute metabolic decompensations like diabetic ketoacidosis (22% and 2%, respectively). Large minorities of respondents (48% and 43%) indicated a willingness to risk weight gain and/or diabetes for the benefits of atypical antipsychotics, possibly because metabolic issues were regarded as long-term issues. However, large majorities also stated that they considered metabolic issues when selecting atypical antipsychotic therapy for some or all of their patients (90%), and that emergence of metabolic dysfunction prompted them to change atypical antipsychotic treatment regimens (85%). Additional efforts at continuing education and communication regarding metabolic outcomes associated with atypical antipsychotic therapy, as well as critical reviews in this area, may help clarify atypical antipsychotic treatment risks and benefits. The results from the survey indicate that psychiatrists are aware of and concerned about metabolic risks and how they differ across the atypical antipsychotic class. The impact of additional data and educational efforts in this area, such as a recently published consensus statement from the American Diabetes Association and other organizations, remains to be assessed.

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