Discontinuing Neuroleptic Medication for Psychosis: A Systematic Review of Functional Outcomes and a Qualitative Exploration of Personal Accounts

  • Gabrielle Le Geyt

Student thesis: Doctor of Clinical Psychology


This thesis sought to explore the phenomenon of discontinuing neuroleptic medication for psychosis. It comprises three standalone papers. Papers one and two have been prepared for submission to journals and in accordance with the journal guidelines. Paper one is a systematic literature review synthesising studies investigating the association between neuroleptic discontinuation and functional outcomes. Databases were systematically searched and thirteen studies were included in the review. Evidence regarding the association between discontinuation from neuroleptic medication and functional outcomes was mixed. Findings are limited by the scarcity of evidence, diversity in the study methods and designs used, and methodological and design quality issues.Paper two is a qualitative study exploring personal accounts of making choices about neuroleptic medication, specifically considering decisions to discontinue. Twelve participants were interviewed and a constructivist grounded theory approach was used to analyse transcripts. The findings suggest that making sense of choices relates to a continuation-discontinuation spectrum and involves three interrelated tasks. The tasks are: forming a personal theory of the need for, and acceptability of, neuroleptic medication; negotiating the challenges of forming alliances with others; and weaving a safety net to safeguard wellbeing. A theoretical model explaining the processes involved in the tasks and the mediating factors is presented and discussed. The clinical implications of the findings are discussed with reference to existing literature. Paper three is not intended for publication and is a critical review of the research process, in which the strengths and weaknesses of the systematic review and empirical study are evaluated. Personal and professional reflections on the experience of conducting a systematic review and an empirical qualitative study are discussed and the implications of the research for future clinical practice and research are considered.
Date of Award31 Dec 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorSara Tai (Supervisor)


  • Qualitative
  • Systematic review
  • Functional Outcomes
  • Psychosis
  • Neuroleptic medication
  • Antipsychotic medication
  • Grounded theory
  • Discontinuation

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