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Support to come off pills 'poor'

Posted by Nickengland on September 9, 2005, at 18:42:08

Very interesting....

Support to come off pills 'poor'

Doctors are of little help when deciding whether they should continue or come off psychiatric drugs, a survey of patients shows.
The charity Mind asked 204 people about their experience of coming off pills for depression or other conditions.

Four in 10 said their GP was not helpful in the process - many opted to come off against doctors' advice or on their own.

Experts said it was important to consult a doctor about such decisions.

Dr David Wrigley of Developing Patient Partnerships

Most of those considering coming off their medication said it was because they did not like the adverse effects of the drugs or did not like the idea of being on them long-term.

About 40% of those interviewed saw their family doctor as "not helpful" in the process, making them the least helpful source of advice and support, with 10% stating that GPs "made things worse".

Internet and email groups came out top - 94% found them helpful.

Many decided to stop their treatment on their own or against their doctor's advice. However, this did not appear to negatively affect the outcome.

Those who came off against advice or did not inform doctors were more likely to succeed - 53%, compared with 44% of those whose doctors agreed they should come off.

However, experts say stopping treatment without advice can be dangerous.

Overall, 60% did experience some difficulty coming off psychiatric drugs.

Time pressures

Alison Cobb of Mind said: "This study shows that it is vital for doctors to listen to their patients, and so have a better understanding of patients' perspectives of their medication, and of the difficulties of coming off.

"When the GP-patient relationship works, it works well, but there are clear limitations."

A spokeswoman from the Royal College of General Practitioners said: "I'm sorry to hear of difficulties expressed by patients in this survey, but in my experience GPs want to support patients who would like to come off medication when clinically appropriate.

"Recent large scale national surveys suggest high levels of satisfaction within the doctor patient relationship."

She said conflict could arise when doctors feel it is clinically inappropriate for patients to come off medication, particularly when this could lead to a condition flaring up.

She said GPs would also like to spend more time consulting with patients.

Consultation is crucial

Dr David Wrigley, GP and deputy chair of Developing Patient Partnerships, said: "Coming off psychiatric drugs is a major decision and these findings are disappointing.

"It is crucial for GPs and patients to work together to make the best choices and for patients to consult their doctor when making decisions about whether to come off treatments or not - particularly as side effects can often occur.

"Patients really need to feel supported by their GP in this decision making process and be given enough information about what to expect when coming off drugs.

"Much more psychiatric care is now taking place in GP surgeries than in the past and GPs have developed their skills greatly in this area."

He said GPs needed to have the time available to support their patients through the delicate process of coming off psychiatric drugs, which could be difficult with the 10 minute consultations that GPs currently have.

Kind regards





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