Background: Anticholinergic side-effects of antipsychotic drugs are common and can potentially impact on quality of life as
well as concordance with medication. Objectives: To investigate prevalence/incidence rates of anticholinergic side-effects of oral antipsychotic
drugs over the medium- and long-term. Methods: We included all systematic reviews undertaken by the Cochrane Schizophrenia
Group for people who are taking antipsychotic drugs and suffering from schizophrenia or Schizophrenia-like illnesses. The prevalence/
incidence of any anticholinergic side-effects was calculated. Relevant papers from the Cochrane Database were identified in January
2007 and the data was pooled. Side-effect data was grouped into the medium (3-6 months) and long-term (>6 months). We calculated
simple frequencies, proportions and confidence intervals. We undertook a comparison within the group and generated a Forrest plot of
the data. Results: We identified 177 studies within 54 reviews (N=27328 participants). Anticholinergic side-effects for blurred vision, dry
mouth and constipation manifested for antipsychotics ranging from 1 to 40 % over the medium-term and 1 to 41% over long-term respectively.
There were no statistical differences beween typicals and atypicals over medium- and long-term. Conclusion: To the best of our
knowledge, we have collated the largest amount of data on anticholinergic side-effects for antipsychotics over the medium- and longterm.
Anticholinergic side-effects are common over the medium- and long-term. Over the medium- and long-term there were no statistically
significant differences between the typicals and atypicals in the main anticholinergic side-effects with one exception. We found that
in the long-term, the typical antipsychotics were associated with a significantly higher prevalence of blurred vision.
Keywords: Anticholinergic effects, antipsychotic drugs, blurred vision, constipation, dry mouth, schizophrenia, trials, prevalence/incidence, Cochrane Schizophrenia, Forrest plot
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