Examination of Dosing of Antipsychotic Drugs for Relapse Prevention in Patients With Stable Schizophrenia: A Meta-analysis.

Leucht, Stefan; Bauer, Sofia; Siafis, Spyridon; Hamza, Tasnim; Wu, Hui; Schneider-Thoma, Johannes; Salanti, Georgia; Davis, John M (2021). Examination of Dosing of Antipsychotic Drugs for Relapse Prevention in Patients With Stable Schizophrenia: A Meta-analysis. JAMA psychiatry, 78(11), pp. 1238-1248. American Medical Association 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2021.2130

[img] Text
Leucht_JAMAPsychiatry_2021.pdf - Published Version
Restricted to registered users only
Available under License Publisher holds Copyright.

Download (548kB) | Request a copy


The doses of antipsychotic drugs needed for relapse prevention in schizophrenia is a debated issue.


To examine dose-response findings in a meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials.

Data Sources

Studies were identified through the Cochrane Schizophrenia Group's Study-Based Register of Trials (March 9, 2020), PubMed (January 1, 2021), and previous reviews. First authors and/or pharmaceutical companies were contacted for additional information.

Study Selection

Two reviewers independently selected randomized clinical trials that compared fixed doses of a second-generation antipsychotic, haloperidol, or fluphenazine for relapse prevention in patients with stable schizophrenia.

Data Extraction and Synthesis

Using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses guideline, all parameters in duplicate were extracted and frequentist dose-response random-effects meta-analyses were conducted.

Main Outcomes and Measures

Study-defined relapse (primary outcome), rehospitalization, Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale or Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale total score reduction from baseline, all-cause discontinuation, and dropouts due to adverse events.


Evidence from 72 dose arms from 26 studies with 4776 participants was analyzed. The efficacy-related dose-response curves had a hyperbolic shape meaning that the probability to relapse decreased rapidly with doses of up to 5-mg/d risperidone equivalent (relative relapse risk, 0.43; 95% CI, 0.31-0.57; standardized mean difference for Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale total score reduction, -0.55; 95% CI, -0.68 to -0.41), but flattened thereafter. In contrast, dropouts due to adverse events continued to increase beyond this dose (relative risk at 5 mg/d, 1.38; 95% CI, 0.87-2.55; relative risk at 15 mg/d, 2.68; 95% CI, 1.49-4.62). In a subgroup analysis of patients in remission, a plateau was reached earlier, at approximately 2.5-mg/d risperidone equivalent.

Conclusions and Relevance

The findings of this meta-analysis suggest that doses higher than approximately 5-mg/d risperidone equivalent may provide limited additional benefit for relapse prevention but more adverse events. For patients in remission or who are receiving high-potency first-generation antipsychotics, doses as low as 2.5-mg/d risperidone equivalent may be sufficient. However, caution is needed at this low dose end when further decreases of dose may be accompanied by a disproportionally higher relapse risk. Moreover, the observations are averages, and factors such as slow or rapid metabolism, age, illness stage, comorbidities, and drug-drug interactions suggest that individual patients will often need higher or lower doses.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (ISPM)

Graduate School:

Graduate School for Health Sciences (GHS)

UniBE Contributor:

Hamza, Tasnim A. A., Salanti, Georgia


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 360 Social problems & social services




American Medical Association




Doris Kopp Heim

Date Deposited:

30 Aug 2021 17:05

Last Modified:

18 Jan 2023 09:01

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:






Actions (login required)

Edit item Edit item
Provide Feedback