Long-term outcomes of delayed clozapine initiation in treatment-resistant schizophrenia: a multicenter retrospective cohort study

Masakazu Hatano, Hiroyuki Kamei, Ippei Takeuchi, Kazuhiko Gomi, Takashi Sakakibara, Shogo Hotta, Satoru Esumi, Kiyotaka Tsubouchi, Yoshihito Shimizu, Shigeki Yamada

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Clozapine is the only antipsychotic medication with proven efficacy against treatment-resistant schizophrenia. This multicenter retrospective cohort study aimed to evaluate the impact of a delay in clozapine initiation on long-term outcomes. Methods: Patients who initiated clozapine treatment between July 2009 and December 2018 were included in this study. According to the length of time from the diagnosis of schizophrenia to clozapine initiation, the patients were categorized into one of three groups: early (≤ 9 years), intermediate (10–19 years), and late (≥ 20 years) initiation. The endpoints were psychiatric rehospitalization and all-cause clozapine discontinuation within 3 years. Hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) were estimated using the Fine and Gray method or the Cox proportional hazards model. Results: The incidence rates of rehospitalization within three years, according to the cumulative incidence function, were 32.3% for early, 29.7% for intermediate, and 62.2% for late initiation, respectively. Late initiation had a significantly higher risk of psychiatric rehospitalization than early initiation (HR, 2.94; 95% CI, 1.01– 8.55; P = 0.016 by the Gray's test). The risk of psychiatric rehospitalization was not significantly different between the early and intermediate initiation groups. The incidence rate of all-cause clozapine discontinuation within three years using the Kaplan–Meier method was 13.0% for early, 10.6% for intermediate, and 20.1% for late initiation. The risk of all-cause clozapine discontinuation was not significantly among the groups. The late initiation group had more patients discontinuing because of death due to physical diseases than the other groups. Conclusions: The study suggests that clozapine should be initiated promptly in patients with treatment-resistant schizophrenia to prevent psychiatric rehospitalization during long-term treatment. Further prospective studies with appropriate consideration of confounding factors and large sample sizes are needed to strengthen the evidence.

Original languageEnglish
Article number673
JournalBMC Psychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 12-2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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