Early discontinuation of pharmacotherapy in U.S. veterans diagnosed with PTSD and the role of psychotherapy

Or Duek, Robert H. Pietrzak, Ismene Petrakis, Rani Hoff, Ilan Harpaz-Rotem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


More than 50% of individuals who enter treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are prescribed a psychotropic medication. To date, however, data are limited regarding the prevalence and determinants of discontinuation of psychotropic medication in this population. To address this gap, we analyzed data from 154,953 veterans newly diagnosed with PTSD who were seeking VA treatment and followed them for one year to identify the prevalence and determinants of medication discontinuation. A hazard analysis was conducted to identify factors associated with discontinuation of antidepressant, anxiolytic/hypnotic and antipsychotic medications. Binomial regressions examined the role of these factors in early discontinuation (within 30 days). Results revealed that 71.8% of veterans discontinued medication treatment within 180 days, and 34.6% within 30 days. The strongest risk factors associated with discontinuing medication were no engagement in adjunctive psychotherapy and prescription of a single medication. Older veterans were less likely than younger veterans to discontinue treatment. Similar risk factors were associated with medication discontinuation in the first 30 days. These results suggest that psychiatric comorbidities, age, and race are key risk factors for poor medication adherence, and underscore the importance of early intervention and patient education in promoting adherence to pharmacotherapy for PTSD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-173
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
StatePublished - Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Medication adherence
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Psychotherapy
  • Veterans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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