UNLABELLED: APPROACH TO DEVELOPING GUIDANCE: When developing guidance for the long-term management of schizophrenia, one approach is to adopt a proactive strategy that sets out clear treatment goals and strategies. This should involve a broad view being taken, embracing overall mental and physical well-being rather than simply the absence of illness. Although relapse prevention is an important goal of any long-term management strategy, there are other aspects that need to be considered, such as reintegration into society, regaining independence and quality of life.
CURRENT TREATMENT: To help achieve these goals, a range of interventions can be incorporated into long-term management strategies for schizophrenia, including pharmacological interventions, psychosocial therapies and alliance-building initiatives. The current UK National Institute for Clinical Excellence guidelines already recommend that continuous therapy should be practised using an atypical (second-generation) antipsychotic drug, whenever possible, in preference to older typical drugs. The launch of the first long-acting atypical antipsychotic is an interesting new advance that may benefit many patients with schizophrenia. Psychosocial interventions, particularly family-based therapies, as well as cognitive behavioural and compliance therapies, when used alongside antipsychotics, have been shown to reduce relapse rates dramatically and to assist in social reintegration. In addition, forging collaborative alliances with patients and their carers can help to demystify schizophrenia and empower patients to take responsibility for their illness.
CONSENSUS STATEMENT: This article outlines a consensus reached by a panel of leading UK healthcare professionals working with schizophrenia brought together to discuss long-term management strategies.
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