What is it like to take antipsychotic medication? A qualitative study of patients with first-episode psychosis Academic Article uri icon


  • What is known on the subject? Antipsychotic drugs are an important part of treatment for most patients with first episode psychosis. We do not know much about what it is like to take these drugs from the patient's point of view. What this paper adds to existing knowledge? We talked to 20 young people with psychosis about their experiences of taking antipsychotic drugs. Patients relationship with medication was complex, young people found medication often to be both good and bad at the same time. We were interested in how seemingly trivial issues--colour, taste, size, name--could be very important to young people and could result in them stopping. What are the implications for practice? We think our study highlights the complicated internal struggles that people with first episode psychosis have with medication. Our study highlights how Nurses and Doctors need to try and better understand what it is like to take these drugs and work collaboratively with patients to support them to make informed choices about treatment.Low-dose antipsychotic medication is an important part of treatment for people experiencing a first episode of psychosis. Little is known about this group of patients' experiences of taking medication.A qualitative study of purposively sampled young people experiencing a first episode of psychosis was carried out. A mental health nurse working in the early psychosis team interviewed participants using a structured topic guide. Interviews were subjected to thematic analysis.Interviews were completed with 20 young people. Thematic analysis generated six themes: (1) the drugs do work, (2) the drugs don't work (as well as I'd like), (3) side effects, (4) the indirect effects of medication, (5) rage against the machine and (6) the not trivial issues about medication.Our overarching meta-theme was that young people's experience of taking antipsychotics was complex; medication was often considered good and bad at the same time. Our observations underpin the importance of helping patients think through the use of antipsychotic medication in supporting their personal recovery.

publication date

  • 2016