Open Access Research article

Hallucinations in acutely admitted patients with psychosis, and effectiveness of risperidone, olanzapine, quetiapine, and ziprasidone: a pragmatic, randomized study

Erik Johnsen12*, Igne Sinkeviciute1, Else-Marie Løberg13, Rune A Kroken1, Kenneth Hugdahl134 and Hugo A Jørgensen2

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Psychiatry, Haukeland University Hospital, Sandviken, Norway

2 Department of Clinical Medicine, Psychiatry, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway

3 Department of Biological and Medical Psychology, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway

4 Department of Radiology, Haukeland University Hospital, Bergen, Norway

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Psychiatry 2013, 13:241  doi:10.1186/1471-244X-13-241

Published: 30 September 2013

Abstract

Background

Hallucinations are prevalent in schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders and may have severe consequences for the affected patients. Antipsychotic drug trials that specifically address the anti-hallucinatory effectiveness of the respective drugs in representative samples are rare. The aims of the present study were to investigate the rate and severity of hallucinations in acutely admitted psychotic patients at hospital admission and discharge or after 6 weeks at the latest, if not discharged earlier (discharge/6 weeks); and to compare the anti-hallucinatory effectiveness of risperidone, olanzapine, quetiapine, and ziprasidone with up to 2 years’ follow-up.

Methods

Adult patients acutely admitted to an emergency ward for psychosis were consecutively randomized to risperidone, olanzapine, quetiapine, or ziprasidone and followed for up to 2 years in a pragmatic design. Participants were assessed repeatedly using the hallucinatory behavior item of the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS).

Results

A total of 226 patients, 30.5% of those assessed for eligibility, were randomized and 68% were hallucinating at baseline. This proportion was reduced to 33% at discharge/6 weeks. In the primary analyses based on intention to treat groups of patients experiencing frequent hallucinations, the quetiapine and ziprasidone groups both had faster decreases of the mean hallucination scores than the risperidone group.

Conclusions

Hallucinations are fairly responsive to antipsychotic drug treatment and differential anti-hallucinatory effectiveness may be found among existing antipsychotic drugs. If replicated, this could pave the way for a more targeted pharmacotherapy based on individual symptom profiles, rather than on the diagnostic category.

Trial registration

ClinicalTrials.gov ID; NCT00932529