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The Association between Schizophrenia and Violent or Homicidal Behaviour: The Prevention and Treatment of Violent Behaviour in These Patients

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Background and objective: This review article aims to discuss and evaluate the risk factors for the development of violence and homicidal behaviour and the effectiveness and outcomes of the preferred atypical antipsychotics in patients diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Method: For this purpose, the psychiatry literature was comprehensively reviewed. A screening of the articles in the international databases covering the period between 1970 and 2010 was performed.

Results: Although the risk of homicidal behaviours is higher in patients with schizophrenia compared to the overall population, little is known about the relevant conditions triggering acts of violence among the patients with schizophrenia. The available results suggest that certain factors including some sociodemographic characteristics, young age, alcoholism, substance abuse, noncompliance with treatment, fulfillment of the criteria for antisocial personality disorder and paranoid subtype, history of suicidal ideation and attempts and history of frequent hospitalization increase the potential for violent episodes. Available data show clozapine to be the most rational therapeutic choice in preventing violent behaviour in patients with schizophrenia. There is evidence from randomized controlled trials in support of the specific anti-aggressive effect of clozapine.

Conclusion: In clinical practice, patients with a risk of committing homicide should be detected and monitored closely. There are many trials showing the efficacy of clozapine on violent and aggressive behaviour.

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e-Published: 24 Oct, 2013
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