RADAR – Research into Antipsychotic Discontinuation and Reduction
Although antipsychotics are effective at reducing psychotic symptoms and relapse short-term, research into their long-term effects has been inadequate. Therefore, the National Institute for Health Research has funded a trial to assess the benefits and risks of a flexible, supported strategy for antipsychotic dose reduction.
What is the RADAR Trial?
The aim of the RADAR trial is to assess the benefits and harms of a gradual programme of antipsychotic reduction in people with schizophrenia and non-affective psychosis. It is a randomised controlled trial, and participants will be randomised to have the antipsychotic reduction strategy or to continue with antipsychotic maintenance treatment. We are looking at social functioning as the main outcome, because previous research suggests this may be improved by antipsychotic reduction. We are also measuring relapse, symptoms, quality of life, side effects and adherence.
For patients allocated to the antipsychotic reduction arm, antipsychotic medication will be reduced gradually, roughly once every two months, or more slowly if necessary. The reduction will take place over a period of around a year, but will vary according to each individual’s starting regime and response to reduction. Each patient will have an individualised schedule drawn up, but this is intended to be flexible, so that patients and clinicians can speed it up or slow it down according to response. There is a protocol for managing any emerging symptoms or early signs of relapse.
Why is this research important?
Many people with a mental health diagnosis are treated with anti-psychotic medication. For some people, antipsychotic medication can be a very helpful treatment. There has been a lot of research which shows that antipsychotic medication can help with distressing symptoms such as hallucinations or hearing voices.
But for some people the negative side-effects of taking antipsychotic medication outweigh the benefits. Reducing or coming off medication can give people a better quality of life and sense of wellbeing.
How are service users and carers involved in the study?
The RADAR study is being designed by researchers and people who use mental health services to help us understand the long term benefits and drawbacks of reducing, and in some cases, coming off antipsychotic medication.
The McPin Foundation is supporting the involvement of people with personal experience of using mental health services, either as a service user or a carer.
The RADAR Lived Experience Advisory Panel is made up of 8 service users and carers. They are working in collaboration with the RADAR research team to design the RADAR trial. Amongst other things, the Panel has advised on the types of support that need to be put in place for people taking part in the trial, how to overcome perceived barriers to undertaking the RADAR trial, designing the RADAR recruitment materials and developing promotional strategies.
At present, there are no further opportunities to get actively involved in the RADAR trial. However, as the study progresses, we will advertise future opportunities to get involved in RADAR via the McPin Involvement Bulletin.
To sign up to receive the Involvement Bulletin, please click http://mcpin.org/resources/our-bulletin/
What stage is the study at?
The study planning stage formally started in January 2016. It is therefore early days, and a lot of developmental work is taking place. The study will start recruiting participants in early 2017.
Who do I contact for more information about the study?
If you would like more information about the RADAR study please contact the RADAR research team on firstname.lastname@example.org.
For further information about service user and carer involvement in the RADAR study please contact Megan Rees on email@example.com
Unfortunately, we are unable to provide guidance to individuals about their own medication or how best to reduce antipsychotic medication.
If you have questions about your own medication, we advise that you discuss these with your GP or your psychiatrist.