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Trajectories of Treatment Response in Hallucinations

Author(s): Igne Sinkeviciute, Rolf Gjestad, Eirik Kjelby, Laimonas Ratkus, Kenneth Hugdahl, Rune A Kroken, Else Marie Loberg, Hugo A Jorgensen, Iris E Sommer, Erik Johnsen


Hallucinations are highly prevalent in schizophrenia and related disorders. Antipsychotics are generally effective in treating hallucinations, but major inter-individual differences in treatment response exist. Previous studies have identified heterogeneity of over-all antipsychotic response patterns in schizophrenia. The aim of this study was to explore the heterogeneity in the response of hallucinations to antipsychotic drug treatment in a representative sample of patients acutely admitted for psychosis.


226 adult patients with symptoms of active psychosis were included in a randomized pragmatic trial of second-generation antipsychotics and followed for 27 weeks. Latent-mixture and latent growth curve models were conducted to analyze heterogeneity of treatment response for hallucinations to second-generation antipsychotics.


We found five different trajectories of treatment response for patients with hallucinations at baseline. These included two groups of “dramatic responders” who had rapid reduction followed by extinction of hallucinations during the first four weeks of treatment, then groups of “gradual responders”, “temporal responders” and “non-responders”. Most responders, 80% of those with hallucinations at baseline, were dramatic responders. Patients who showed no response in the early weeks remained non-responders also after longer follow-up.


The study suggests the existence of differential response patterns of hallucinations to antipsychotic treatment, and that a significant subgroup are dramatic responders. Hallucinations generally respond quickly to antipsychotic treatment. With no improvement in the very first weeks an early change of treatment should be considered.

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