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Sway Schizophrenics With Incentives to Avail Regular Treatment

You may be shocked to know that nearly 20% to 50% of patients availing psychiatric services play truant with their medication. Amid such a scenario, a novel think-tank// has come up with a strategy, designed to entice schizophrenics to take their medicines. Patients who rely on outreach services may have huge numbers of them who do not consume medicines methodically.

Schizophrenics could be cajoled into taking their medication by rewarding them, say researchers, which would reflect in immense benefit to the patients. Many eyebrows were raised regarding the ethical aspect of such a move.

In the study to examine the benefits of such a strategy, five outreach mental health patients in east London who had a history of irregular treatment were given incentives for availing consistent treatment. Four of them benefited with the strategy and continued to manage their lives independently. They experienced fewer problems with cops and neighbors.

A questionnaire to elicit responses from 150 assertive outreach teams about their opinion on financial incentives was sought. More then 76% of respondents did not approve of financial incentives and 42% thought the practice was unscrupulous.

Dr Claassen said: 'The results in terms of reduced hospital admissions for the patients who accepted the offer seem beneficial. There is no harm intended or caused, the service user can revoke the offer at any time, and the treatment is generally available. Some team managers feared a negative impact on their therapeutic relationships, but the researchers said they did not see this in their clinical practice, and their results in east London are encouraging.'
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