Antipsychotics are the first-line treatment for people with schizophrenia or psychosis. There is evidence that they can reduce the symptoms of psychosis and risk of relapse. However many people do not respond to these drugs, or experience adverse effects and stop taking them.
In the UK, clinical guidelines have stressed the need for research into psychosocial interventions without antipsychotics. This systematic review examines the effects of psychosocial interventions for people with schizophrenia or psychosis who are on no/minimal antipsychotics.
Databases were searched for empirical studies investigating a psychosocial intervention in people with a schizophrenia spectrum disorder who were not taking antipsychotics or had received an antipsychotic minimisation strategy.
We identified nine interventions tested in 17 studies (N = 2250), including eight randomised controlled trials. Outcomes were generally equal to or in a small number of cases better than the control group (antipsychotics/treatment as usual) for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Need Adapted Treatment and Soteria. The remaining interventions provided some encouraging, but overall inconsistent findings and were Psychosocial Outpatient Treatment, Open Dialogue, Psychosocial Inpatient Treatment, Psychoanalysis/Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, Major Role Therapy, and Milieu Treatment.
Study quality was generally low with little recent research. In conclusion, nine psychosocial interventions have been studied for patients on no/minimal antipsychotics. The majority of studies reported outcomes for the intervention which were the same as the control group, however, study quality was problematic. Given the adverse effects of antipsychotics and that many people do not want to take them, high quality trials of psychosocial treatments for people on minimal/no antipsychotics are needed.