Background: The role of antipsychotic medication in supporting young people in their recovery from early psychosis is complex and controversial. It is common for young people, often given antipsychotic medication for the first time, to express a choice to stop treatment, potentially increasing the risk of relapse and admission to hospital. Our systematic review aimed to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of psychosocial interventions to enhance antipsychotic medication adherence in young people with early psychosis.
Methods: We reviewed studies using any experimental design of psychosocial interventions specifically focused on enhancing adherence with antipsychotic medication in young people with early psychosis. Cochrane CENTRAL Register, Medline, Embase, PsychINFO and CINAHL were searched on 19 November 2021 without time restriction. Studies were assessed for quality using the Effective Public Health Practice Project Quality Assessment Tool for Quantitative Studies.
Results: Our initial search identified 3469 documents. Following title, abstract and full-text screening, we included three published studies and one unpublished experimental study that met our inclusion criteria. Outcome data were available for three studies that tested adherence–coping–education, adherence therapy, and a health dialogue intervention, all having a positive effect on medication adherence. None of the trials reported data on the safety of the experimental interventions.
Conclusion: There is a paucity of evidence from high-quality randomized controlled trials that establish the safety and effectiveness of any type of psychosocial intervention to enhance medication adherence in young people with early psychosis. Further high-quality trials are warranted. This review was registered on the Open Science Framework prior to undertaking out initial searches.