Medication Adherence and Subjective Weight Perception in Patients with First-Episode Psychotic DisorderAuthor(s): Mimi MC Wong, , EYH Chen, , Simon SY Lui, Steve Tso
Introduction: Medication adherence is critical to the management of psychotic disorder. Different factors associated with medication adherence have been investigated in previous studies. However, the association with subjective weight perception, which is related to the weight gain side effect of antipsychotics, has not been thoroughly investigated. Subjective weight perception may not equal objective weight status. This study tests the hypothesis that medication adherence is related to subjective weight perception in a group of patients with first-episode psychotic disorder who have taken antipsychotics for one year. Methods: This study recruited 160 participants with one-year histories of firstepisode psychotic disorder and measured their actual and perceived weights, amount of weight gain in the past year, body size satisfaction and medication adherence levels. The associations between medication adherence and both the actual and perceived weight status were analyzed controlling for other confounding factors including insight, drug attitude, illness severity and other medication side effects. Results: Stepwise multiple regression analysis found that the participants’ perceived weight status, negative attitude toward their drugs and insight were the major factors associated with poor medication adherence. Of the participants who perceived themselves as being overweight, 86% believed that antipsychotics were responsible. Among those who had such beliefs, 72% had reduced their antipsychotic dosages on their own. About half of the participants had gained more than 7% of their baseline weight and 43.1% of the participants were found to be overweight after one year of treatment with antipsychotics. Conclusions: The results of this study indicate that medication adherence is associated with perceived weight status. Healthcare professionals should be aware of this relationship and address this issue early in the management of patients. Apart from weight management programs, education on a correct weight perception should be carried out with the promotion of proper drug attitudes and better insight for the improvement of medication adherence in the early course of psychotic disorder.