Organizational characteristics of veterans affairs clinics with high and low utilization of clozapine

Jessica L. Gören, Adam J. Rose, Ryann L. Engle, Eric G. Smith, Melissa L.D. Christopher, Nathaniel M. Rickles, Todd P. Semla, Megan B. McCullough

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Objective: Twenty to thirty percent of patients with schizophrenia experience treatment resistance. Clozapine is the only medication proven effective for treatment-resistant schizophrenia. However, in most settings less than 25% of patients with treatment-resistant schizophrenia receive clozapine. This study was conducted to identify facilitators of and barriers to clozapine use to inform development of interventions to maximize appropriate clozapine utilization. Methods: Seventy semistructured phone interviews were conducted with key informants of clozapine processes at U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers in various U.S. regions, including urban and rural areas, with high (N=5) and low (N=5) rates of clozapine utilization. Interviewees included members of mental health leadership, psychiatrists, clinical pharmacists, and advanced practice nurses. Interviews were analyzed by using an emergent thematic strategy to identify barriers and facilitators related to clozapine prescribing. Results: High utilization was associated with integration of nonphysician psychiatric providers and clear organizational processes and infrastructure for treatment of severe mental illness, for example, use of clozapine clinics andmental health intensive case management. Low utilization was associated with a lack of champions to support clozapine processes and with limited-capacity care systems. Obstacles identified at both high- and low-utilization sites included complex, timeconsuming paperwork; reliance on a few individuals to facilitate processes; and issues related to transportation for patients living far from care facilities. Conclusions: Implementation efforts to organize, streamline, and simplify clozapine processes; development of a multidisciplinary clozapine clinic; increased capacity of existing clinics; and provision of transportation are reasonable targets to increase clozapine utilization.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1189-1196
Number of pages8
JournalPsychiatric Services
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported in part by locally initiated projects from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' HSR&D Service Mental Health QUERI and Center for Healthcare Organization and Implementation Research. The contents of this article do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs or the United States Government.


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