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Addressing the health risks of antipsychotic medication

Convenor: Dr Seren Haf Roberts

Email: ATHRAM@bangor.ac.uk; Tel: 01978 316334/6330

Postal Address: ATHRAM

Institute of Medical and Social Care Research

Bangor University

Cambrian House

Wrexham Technology Park


Ll13 7YP

Purpose of group:

Antipsychotic medication is the most common treatment for schizophrenia. People with schizophrenia have a higher mortality rate than the general public and have higher rates of cardio vascular disease, obesity and diabetes. There is growing concern that antipsychotics are associated with these health risks with as many as 50% of patients gaining substantial body weight during long-term antipsychotic therapy. Antipsychotics vary, however, in the extent to which they contribute to adverse health outcomes.

ATHRAM is a clinical research development group supported by the Mental Health Research Network Cymru (MHRNC) (http://www.mhrnc.org). The overarching aim of this group is to bring together key academics and clinicians with a particular interest in the physical health risks associated with antipsychotic medication. The intention of the group is to facilitate large-scale research within Wales (and wider afield) on this topic.

We are committed to:

  • identifying interventions or good practices that have been shown to reduce health risks associate with antipsychotic medication (e.g., screening, exercise or healthy living programmes etc.)
  • rigorously evaluating innovative interventions or practices to provide evidence of the appropriateness, feasibility, applicability, and the clinical- and cost-effectiveness of such interventions
  • securing adequate funding and resources to undertake quality research within Wales

Group Membership

ATHRAM Members list


ATHRAM Publications List (coming soon)

Summary of activity:

The inaugural meeting for the group was held in February 2007. Several potential research themes emerged from discussion and have been developed and pursued over the following years. New research ideas have also emerged during this time.

Current research themes include:

  • Treatment adherence
  • Side effects and cellular effects of treatment
  • Weight gain, diabetes and metabolic syndrome
  • Lifestyle interventions

In addition, numerous research papers have been submitted with many accepted for publication.

Recent activity included hosting a successful seminar in November 2011 in Wrexham entitled: Metabolic Syndrome in Severe Mental Illness: Strengthening Research in Wales. Amongst our guest speakers were Dr David Osborn, University College London Medical School speaking about Cardiovascular risk and its management in people with severe mental illness: Research from UCL and the English MHRN, and Dr John Harvey, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board speaking about Weight gain, diabetes and metabolic syndrome. The seminar was well attended with clinical, academic and service user and carer representation from across Wales. Key research ideas and questions emerged from the discussions on the day, which will be considered and pursued by group members over the coming months.