Compliance therapy for schizophrenia

Relapse in people with schizophrenia is common and in many cases attributable to poor compliance with antipsychotic medication. Compliance therapy was developed to specifically address non-compliance with antipsychotic medication. We only found one reasonably good but small trial. It did not show that compliance therapy really effected compliance with medication, psychotic symptoms, or quality of life but it was always too small really to show this for certain. The study did, however, suggest that the compliance therapy may help people spend shorter times in hospital across a two year period, when compared with standard care. There is a need for more studies and we have proposed a design that could be conducted within the confines of routine care for outcomes of interest to everyone involved.

Authors' conclusions: 

There is no clear evidence to suggest that compliance therapy is beneficial for people with schizophrenia and related syndromes but more randomised studies are justified and needed in order for this intervention to be fully examined.

Read the full abstract...

Schizophrenia is a severe mental illness characterised by delusions and hallucinations. Antipsychotic drugs does reduce these symptoms, but at least half of people given these drugs do not comply with the treatment regimen prescribed.


To assess the effects of compliance therapy on antipsychotic medication adherence for people with schizophrenia.

Search strategy: 

Cochrane Schizophrenia Group Trials Register (June 2005).

Selection criteria: 

We included all randomised controlled trials of 'compliance therapy' for people with schizophrenia or related severe mental disorders.

Data collection and analysis: 

We independently extracted data and, for dichotomous data, calculated the relative risk (RR), its 95% confidence interval (CI) on an intention to treat basis. We present continuous data using the weighted mean difference statistic.

Main results: 

We included one trial with relevant and available data (n=56, duration 2 years) comparing compliance therapy with non-specific counseling. The primary outcome 'non-compliance with treatment' showed no significant difference between compliance therapy and non-specific counseling (n=56, RR 1.23 CI 0.74 to 2.05). The compliance therapy did not substantially effect attitudes to treatment (n=50, WMD DAI score -2.10 CI -6.11 to 1.91). Very few people (~10%) left the study by one year (n=56, RR 0.5 CI 0.1 to 2.51). Mental state seemed unaffected by the therapy (n=50, WMD PANSS score 6.1 CI -4.54 to 16.74) as was insight (n=50, WMD SAI -0.5 CI -2.43 to 1.43), global functioning (n=50, WMD GAF -4.20 CI -16.42 to 8.02) and quality of life (n=50, WMD QLS -3.40 CI -16.25 to 9.45). At both one and two years the average number of days in hospital was non-significantly reduced for those allocated to the compliance therapy.