It is known that serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia are overrepresented among homeless people.
A new Canadian study finds that despite full insurance and drug coverage, a very small percentage of this population adhere to prescribed medication regimens.
Stefanie Rezansoff, a Simon Fraser University researcher explains that her study is the first to investigate adherence to antipsychotic medication among the homeless.
She found only 12 percent of the 290 individuals studied were adherent to their medications at the level needed to be effective. This is despite having full drug coverage and high access to pharmacies.
“Treatment protocols recommend that patients receive these medications continuously once they’re initiated, but this can be difficult to ensure when people are precariously housed,” says Rezansoff.
“There’s a strong link between low adherence and long-term homelessness.”
When psychotic symptoms are not effectively managed, individuals are at a higher risk of hospitalization, arrest, victimization, and even suicide.
The research team is currently investigating interventions to improve adherence to antipsychotic medications.
New initiatives that may improve medication compliance and enhance mental health outcomes include supported housing, and prescribing long-acting injections.
Researcher also recommend regular and frequent contact between patients and primary healthcare providers.
Source: Simon Fraser University