An interaction between psychotropic medication, weight gain, body image and compliance
Downey, Gillian Elaine
Non-compliance with medication is a serious problem. Recent estimates of medication non-compliance in the literature range from 4% to 92%. Among patients with mental health problems prescribed psychotropic medication, this non-compliance is high ranging from 30% to 60%. One of the most common explanations given for discontinuation is the physical side effects. Of these, weight gain is considered to have a significant influence on the issue of compliance with pharmacotherapy in general and specifically with psychotropic medications. Within the general population studies have found that being overweight may adversely affect an individual's body image, but, on the whole, the concept of body image has remained largely unstudied as an explanation for non-compliance among those who gain weight with psychotropic medication. In order to assess the extent of this problem, patients prescribed psychotropic medications in West Fife and attending outpatient appointments, day patient clinics, or admitted to an acute inpatient ward were administered information about the study over a four-month period. 46 patients attended a one-off appointment where they completed measures of compliance behaviour, along with questionnaires relating to weight, shape, body image and self-esteem. Results are discussed with reference to previous literature.