Maximizing the synergy between pharmacotherapy and psychosocial therapies for schizophrenia. Academic Article Review uri icon


  • Although the traditional antipsychotic medications were a major advancement in schizophrenia therapeutics and made possible the era of deinstitutionalization, just maintaining a patient out of the hospital no longer can be viewed as the final goal of treatment. Most patients are able to maintain outpatient status despite persistent psychotic symptoms, pervasive negative symptoms and poor social competence. It is hoped that the availability of the atypical antipsychotic drugs will improve significantly compliance, treatment of symptoms, and possibly relapse rates and overall outcome. It should be the norm and not the exception for patients to be treated with these new medications as early as possible in their illness. The clinician should not be complacent and quick to accept persistent psychosis, and patients with various forms of treatment resistance should be tried early in the course of illness with clozapine (or other medications as they become available if they show superiority for treatment-resistant patients). Pharmacologic interventions aimed at deficit symptoms may become available in the future. Psychosocial interventions have a place in the modern therapeutic armamentarium. Relatively simple sustained family interventions and more comprehensive ACT programs are effective for relapse prevention and reduction of the "revolving door syndrome," whereas patients with psychosis nonresponsive to medication may benefit from new modalities of CBT. For patients with persistent negative symptoms and limited social competence, SST is indicated where available, and even in places where staff may be limited and social skills and other programs difficult to implement, family psychoeducational interventions can be carried out to good effect.

publication date

  • March 2003