Document Type


Date of Original Version



Pharmacy Practice


OBJECTIVE: Since use of multiple drugs to treat psychiatric patients is increasing, and research on this practice is rare, the authors carried out a retrospective case-control study of multiple versus single antipsychotic treatment in psychiatric inpatients. METHOD: Inpatient treatment groups receiving either antipsychotic monotherapy or polytherapy were matched in terms of age, sex, diagnostic category, and admission clinical ratings (Global Assessment of Functioning [GAF] and Clinical Global Impression [CGI]), which yielded 70 subject pairs. They were compared in terms of total chlorpromazine-equivalent daily dose, changes in total daily dose, length of hospitalization, incidence of adverse effects, and changes in clinical ratings (CGI, GAF, Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale score) between admission and discharge. RESULTS: Initial doses were closely similar at admission for both treatment groups, but the median total final antipsychotic dose was 78% higher for those receiving antipsychotic polytherapy versus monotherapy. Also, median length of stay in the hospital was 55% (8.5 days) longer, and risk of adverse effects was 56% higher with polytherapy, whereas clinical improvement scores were similar (within 11%) for both treatments. CONCLUSIONS: Short-term treatment with multiple antipsychotics was associated with major increases in drug exposure, adverse events, and time in the hospital but with no apparent gain in clinical benefit. These findings require further testing in controlled prospective studies.