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Web-based tool to help clinicians make schizophrenia treatment decisions

A new Web-based tool will be available January 1, 2005 to help clinicians determine the best medication for patients with schizophrenia. An international team led by Vanderbilt University Medical Center's Herbert Meltzer, M.D., recently completed the new algorithms, or step-by-step protocols, which will provide clinicians a resource as they make treatment decisions.

The value of the algorithms was recently acknowledged by the World Health Organization (WHO), which has committed to establishing a Web link to the algorithms from its Web site. This will allow clinicians and patients worldwide to access the algorithms.

The International Psychopharmacology Algorithm Project (IPAP), a team of psychiatrists, psychopharmacologists and algorithm designers, was founded by Knoxville, Tenn. psychiatrist Kenneth Jobson, M.D., to develop new Web-based tools to improve the treatment of psychiatric disorders. In 2000, Meltzer joined in their efforts and organized a group to develop the algorithms for schizophrenia treatment.

"The idea was that we would come up with evidence-based medicine for schizophrenia, providing clinicians with a resource as they make decisions in standard situations, as well as in crises like suicidality, violence, and severe drug side effects," said Meltzer, the Bixler/Johnson/Mays Professor of Psychiatry and director of the Division of Psychopharmacology.

The algorithms are unique in many ways, Meltzer said. First, they require clinicians to evaluate patients for these crises before deciding on the course of drug therapy. Also, the algorithms are designed to help clinicians who are not psychiatrists evaluate a patient's medication regimen.

"The kind of people now prescribing drugs include nurse practitioners, as well as family doctors," Meltzer said. In addition, patients are often seen infrequently on an outpatient basis under managed care. Such changes have led to serious problems, which includes patients not usi
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Contact: Heather L. Hall
heather.l.hall@vanderbilt.edu
615-322-3894
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
29-Dec-2004


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