Introduction: To date no study has compared the treatment patterns for schizophrenia specifically between China and Japan. This study examined the cross-national differences in the use of psychotropic drugs and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in schizophrenia. Method: Data on 3248 schizophrenia inpatients (n = 1524 in China and n = 1724 in Japan) were collected by either chart review or interviews during the designated 3 study periods between 2001 and 2009. Patients' socio-demographic and clinical characteristics, prescriptions of psychotropic drugs, and ECT use were recorded using a standardized protocol and data collection procedure. Results: Multivariate analyses revealed that compared to their Japanese counterparts, Chinese inpatients had a shorter length of current hospitalization, were significantly less frequently prescribed second-generation antipsychotics (except clozapine), antipsychotic polypharmacy, benzodiazepines, and mood stabilizers, and more likely to receive clozapine, antidepressants, and ECT. Discussion: Substantial variations in inpatient treatment patterns for schizophrenia were found between China and Japan. The common use of ECT and clozapine in Chinese inpatients and the frequent use of antipsychotic polypharmacy and high antipsychotic doses in Japanese inpatients need to be addressed.
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