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Better tools needed to aid antidepressant discontinuation, researchers say

A study conducted in the Netherlands has identified six themes that could aid discussions between GPs and patients about stopping antidepressants.

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Healthcare professionals should consider a broad and balanced scope of factors before and during antidepressant discontinuation to facilitate a better shared decision-making process, the researchers concluded

Decision aids could help GPs and patients in the process of discontinuing antidepressants, research published in the British Journal of General Practice (24 September 2019) has shown[1].

A Dutch team recruited 37 patients who were past or present users of antidepressant medicines, and 27 healthcare professionals, including GPs, mental health assistants, psychiatrists and psychologists.

Participants collectively generated a list of topics to be discussed by GPs and their patients about antidepressant discontinuation, and ranked them in order of importance.

The results showed that patients and professionals were largely in agreement about which discussion topics were the most important.

These 50 topics were then grouped by the researchers into six core themes: process of discontinuation; expectations; professional guidance; current use; environment; and side effects.

The theme of ‘professional guidance’ was perceived to be significantly more important to patients than to professionals (3.47 versus 3.15 out of 5.00, respectively).

The researchers said the topics identified could be incorporated into a decision aid to help address patients’ doubts or fears about discontinuation.

In the meantime, “considering a broad and balanced scope of factors before and during discontinuation may facilitate a better shared decision-making process”, they concluded.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20207294

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