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Background For many years, long-acting intramuscular (LAI) antipsychotics have been prescribed predominantly to chronic and severe patients, as a last resort when other treatments failed. Recently, a broader and earlier use of LAIs, particularly second-generation LAIs, has been emphasized. To date, few studies attempted to frame how this change in prescribing took place in real-world practice. Therefore, this study aimed to describe the clinical features of patients prescribed with LAIs, and to explore possible prescribing differences between first- and second-generations LAIs under ordinary clinical practice in Italy. Methods The STAR Network “Depot” Study is an observational, longitudinal, multicenter study involving 35 centers in Italy. In the cross-sectional phase, patients prescribed with LAIs were consecutively recruited and assessed over a period of 12 months. Descriptive statistics and multivariable logistic regression analyses were employed. Results Of the 451 recruited patients, 61% were males. The level of social and working functioning was heterogeneous, as was the severity of disease. Seventy-two per cent of the patients had a diagnosis of the schizophrenia spectrum. Seventy per cent were prescribed with second-generation antipsychotic (SGA) LAIs (mostly paliperidone, aripiprazole and risperidone). Compared to first-generation antipsychotic (FGA) LAIs, patients prescribed with SGA LAIs were more often younger; employed; with a diagnosis of the schizophrenia spectrum or bipolar disorder; with higher levels of affective symptoms; with fewer LAI prescriptions in the past. Discussion LAIs' prescribing practices appear to be more flexible as compared to the past, although this change is mostly restricted to SGA LAIs.

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