This meta-analysis aimed to assess antipsychotic and placebo effects in patients with schizophrenia at the level of symptom factors.
A systematic literature search up to June 2020 was undertaken and 62 studies were included, with 23,478 patients with schizophrenia at the study baseline point. We calculated mean differences with 95% confidence intervals. The comparison was made according to the study content using a continuous method with a random-effects model.
Patients with schizophrenia treated by antipsychotic drugs had a significantly lower psychiatric rating scale total score; lower clinical global impression of severity; lower positive and negative syndrome scale; and lower assessment of negative symptoms total score, when compared to placebo treated patients.
Patients with schizophrenia treated with an antipsychotic drug show a much greater improvement and lower inconsistency in the level of symptom factors when compared to the effects of placebo. Our findings evidence for a comparatively homogeneous outcome of the antipsychotic-treatment in improving schizophrenia symptoms. This opposes the notion of the presence of patient sub-groups with treatment non-responsive schizophrenia.

© 2021 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.