Antipsychotic medications can reduce violence and other forms of crime among people being treated for schizophrenia. (Photo credit: SimonQ)

Medications for Schizophrenia: Impact on crime and the importance of supported housing

June 28, 2017

New research reports for the first time that antipsychotic medications can reduce violence and other forms of crime among people being treated for schizophrenia. SFU Health Sciences researchers Stefanie Rezansoff and Julian Somers have published a series of studies examining the relationship between antipsychotic medication adherence and repeat criminal activity, as well as effective interventions for those who are homeless.

Their most recent study – published June 20 in Schizophrenia Bulletin - found that treatment with antipsychotic medication following clinical practice guidelines was associated with significantly lower rates of violent and non-violent crime. However, they also reported that the majority of offenders with schizophrenia, do not receive guideline-level pharmacological treatment, and continue to commit offences despite frequent contact with the medical system.

Other recent publications in this program of research focused on people with schizophrenia who were homeless, and showed that Housing First, an approach focused on moving homeless individuals into independent and permanent housing with additional support services, significantly increased adherence to antipsychotic medication. “This is especially true when participants moved into individual market rental units, and had access to services tailored to their individual needs,” says Rezansoff, a public health specialist who tracked 165 homeless patients with schizophrenia over 2.5 years. Research by the Somers Research Group has also shown that the costs of providing housing and support are about the same as, or less than, leaving people homeless and involved with the courts, jails, prisons, and shelters.

“Our findings reinforce the importance of Housing First, and the need for immediate action to increase antipsychotic adherence among previous offenders and those who remain homeless while living with schizophrenia,” says Somers, a clinical psychologist.