The Research into Antipsychotic Discontinuation and Reduction (RADAR) trial assessed the benefits and harms of gradually reducing antipsychotic medication in people with schizophrenia and non-affective psychosis.
It was a randomised controlled trial where research participants, recruited from 19 NHS Trusts across England, either had the antipsychotic reduction strategy or continued with treatment as usual.
The main outcome measure was social functioning, as previous research suggests this may be improved by antipsychotic reduction, alongside relapse, symptoms, quality of life, side effects and adherence.
For people in the reduction arm, medication was reduced gradually, roughly once every two months or more slowly if necessary, under the supervision of the participant’s named psychiatrist. The reduction process took place over around one year but varied according to each person’s starting medication regime and response to reduction.
Each research participant had a customised, flexible schedule and a protocol for managing any emerging symptoms or early signs of relapse.
Although antipsychotics are effective at reducing psychotic symptoms and relapse short-term, research into their long-term effects has been inadequate.
The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) funded a trial to assess the benefits and risks of a flexible, supported strategy for antipsychotic dose reduction.
Many people with a mental health diagnosis are treated with antipsychotic medication. For some, it can be very helpful.
There has been a lot of research which shows that antipsychotic medication can help with distressing symptoms such as hallucinations or hearing voices.
For others, 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.
RADAR is an important research study so we can learn more about medication reduction from both clinicians and mental health service users.
McPin supported the involvement of people with personal experience of this area and facilitated a Lived Experience Advisory Panel (LEAP) including service user, carer and public co-investigators on RADAR.
The study ran from 2016 to 2022, with dissemination during 2023.
The RADAR LEAP was made up of ten people with expertise in anti-psychotic medication through personal use or as a carer for someone with psychosis. It met twice a year to discuss the progress of the study and topics such as future recruitment and study findings.
Members wrote their own accounts about medication reduction and helped to create a podcast on the subject.
One member of the LEAP worked as a peer researcher on the qualitative study exploring service user experiences of medication discontinuation.
- You can read about the trial protocol in this paper: Randomised controlled trial of gradual antipsychotic reduction and discontinuation in people with schizophrenia and related disorders: the RADAR trial
- The qualitative research exploring family perspectives on medication discontinuation can be found here: A qualitative exploration of family members’ perspectives on reducing and discontinuing antipsychotic medication
- And qualitative research exploring the view of people with schizophrenia towards medication discontinuation here: An analysis of views about supported reduction or discontinuation of antipsychotic treatment among people with schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders
- The results have now been published: Antipsychotic dose reduction and discontinuation versus maintenance treatment in people with schizophrenia and other recurrent psychotic disorders in England (the RADAR trial): an open, parallel-group, randomised controlled trial – The Lancet Psychiatry
- As has the qualitative analysis: Experiences of reduction and discontinuation of antipsychotics: a qualitative investigation within the RADAR trial
- And a lived experience perspective on the results: A lived experience perspective on the results of the RADAR trial
For further information about lived experience involvement in the study please email [email protected].
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.
Antipsychotic dose reduction and discontinuation versus maintenance treatment in people with schizophrenia and other recurrent psychotic disorders in England (RADAR)
RADAR: Experiences of reduction and discontinuation of antipsychotics
A lived experience perspective on the results of the RADAR trial
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