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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Non-adherence to antipsychotic medication, relapse and rehospitalisation in recent-onset schizophrenia

Gunnar Morken12*, Jan H Widen23 and Rolf W Grawe24

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Neuroscience, Faculty of Medicine, NTNU, N-7006 Trondheim, Norway

2 Division of Psychiatry, ∅stmarka, St. Olavs University Hospital, N-7006 Trondheim, Norway

3 Clinic of Psychiatry, Telemark Hospital, Skien, Norway

4 SINTEF Health Research, Trondheim, Norway

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BMC Psychiatry 2008, 8:32  doi:10.1186/1471-244X-8-32

Published: 30 April 2008



The aims of this study were to describe outcome with respect to persistent psychotic symptoms, relapse of positive symptoms, hospital admissions, and application of treatment by coercion among patients with recent onset schizophrenia being adherent and non-adherent to anti-psychotic medication.

Materials and methods

The study included 50 patients with recent onset schizophrenia, schizoaffective or schizophreniform disorders. The patients were clinically stable at study entry and had less than 2 years duration of psychotic symptoms. Good adherence to antipsychotic medication was defined as less than one month without medication. Outcomes for poor and good adherence were compared over a 24-month follow-up period.


The Odds Ratio (OR) of having a psychotic relapse was 10.27 and the OR of being admitted to hospital was 4.00 among non-adherent patients. Use of depot-antipsychotics were associated with relapses (OR = 6.44).


Non-adherence was associated with relapse, hospital admission and having persistent psychotic symptoms. Interventions to increase adherence are needed.

Trial registration

Current Controlled Trials NCT00184509. Key words: Adherence, schizophrenia, antipsychotic medication, admittances, relapse.