Reading of the Week: Clozapine Prescribing & Demographics; Also, HBR on Equity in Telemedicine, and Eichler on Her Uncle & His Disappearances

From the Editor

Is clozapine prescribing effected by demographics?

In the first selection, from Psychiatric Services, Natalie Bareis (of Columbia University) and her co-authors consider medication prescriptions for those with psychotic disorders, drawing on US Medicaid data. “Our results indicate significant variation across states and among racial-ethnic groups in prescription patterns of six types of psychotropic medications, even after we had adjusted for multiple patient factors.” Indeed, they find that clozapine is much more commonly prescribed for those who are White. We consider the paper and its implications.

unknownClozapine: a simple molecule but complicated availability in the US?

In the second selection, Dr. Jonathan Rogg (of the University of Texas) and his co-authors consider equity and telemedicine. In a paper for the Harvard Business Review, they describe the services offered in a low-income area of Texas, and the lessons learned. “The Covid-19 pandemic has forced a rapid evolution in technology with the potential to help the most disadvantaged patients. Our experience during the pandemic has demonstrated that telemedicine can overcome access-related challenges faced by indigent populations. By allowing them to access care in their homes or even their jobs, it can help them address health issues expeditiously with minimal disruption to their lives.”

Finally, in the third selection from The Globe and Mail, writer Leah Eichler writes about her uncle, who probably had an undiagnosed mental illness. She writes about his disappearances and erratic behaviour. “We like to believe our relationships are solid, that love is somehow inextricably linked to permanence. Missing our loved ones, if anything, highlights how impermanent even our closest relationships can be.”

Please note that there will be no Reading next week.


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Reading of the Week: Is ‘New’ Overrated? Antipsychotics in the Real World

From the Editor

Is new better?

You may be reading this on an iPhone 7, having driven to work this morning in a 2017 Hybrid Prius. So should your patients be taking a medication that became available four-and-a-half decades ago – when people drove gus-gusling eight-cylinder Oldsmobiles and smartphones didn’t even exist in science fiction novels.

This week, we look at a just-published JAMA Psychiatry paper which promises to look at the “real-world” effectiveness of antipsychotics. The authors tapped Swedish databases to consider outcomes for nearly thirty thousand people with schizophrenia.

Sweden: elaborate welfare state, beautiful historic buildings, and – yes – rich databases

Spoiler alert: new wasn’t better. That is, newer antipsychotics tended to underperform clozapine and depot medications.

We also look at similar “real-world” work drawing from a Finnish database considering treatment of depression.

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Reading of the Week: Doing Things Differently – Clozapine and More

From the Editor

“When a Cape Breton cousin of mine was hospitalized at the main asylum for Nova Scotia in the 1940s with psychotic symptoms, his sister told me the family received a phone call from the treating physician telling them to give up all hope for their brother’s future.”

In his new book written with Dr. Pier Bryden, Dr. David Goldbloom – past Chair of the Mental Health Commission of Canada and Senior Medical Advisor of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health – recalls the story.

Psychiatry is so much better today.

But there is room for much improvement. Uneven outcomes. Provider-focused care. Can we do things differently?

New approach, better results?

This week, we look at a blog published by HealthAffairs.org, considering the use of clozapine for people with schizophrenia. Dr. Adam Rose, drawing on the research, including his own research, wonders why we don’t use more of this effective treatment.

Then, turning to The Globe and Mail, we look at the life and death of Dr. Kate Granger – a physician who has challenged us health care providers to be more compassionate.

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