Beyond the usual suspects: Positive attitudes towards positive symptoms is associated with medication noncompliance in psychosis

Steffen Moritz*, Jerome Favrod, Christina Andreou, Anthony P. Morrison, Francesca Bohn, Ruth Veckenstedt, Peter Tonn, Anne Karow

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Citations (Scopus)


Antipsychotic medication represents the treatment of choice in psychosis according to clinical guidelines. Nevertheless, studies show that half to almost three-quarter of all patients discontinue medication with antipsychotics after some time, a fact which is traditionally ascribed to side-effects, mistrust against the clinician and poor illness insight. The present study investigated whether positive attitudes toward psychotic symptoms (ie, gain from illness) represent a further factor for medication noncompliance. An anonymous online survey was set up in order to prevent conservative response biases that likely emerge in a clinical setting. Following an iterative selection process, data from a total of 113 patients with a likely diagnosis of schizophrenia and a history of antipsychotic treatment were retained for the final analyses (80%). While side-effect profile and mistrust emerged as the most frequent reasons for drug discontinuation, 28% of the sample reported gain from illness (eg, missing voices, feeling of power) as a motive for noncompliance. At least every fourth patient reported the following reasons: stigma (31%), mistrust against the physician/therapist (31%), and rejection of medication in general (28%). Approximately every fifth patient had discontinued antipsychotic treatment because of forgetfulness. On average, patients provided 4 different explanations for noncompliance. Ambivalence toward symptoms and treatment should thoroughly be considered when planning treatment in psychosis. While antipsychotic medication represents the evidence-based cornerstone of the current treatment in schizophrenia, further research is needed on nonpharmacological interventions for noncompliant patients who are willing to undergo intervention but refuse pharmacotherapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)917-922
Number of pages6
JournalSchizophrenia Bulletin
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • adherence
  • antipsychotics
  • compliance
  • neuroleptics
  • psychosis
  • schizophrenia


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