Retrospective Accounts of the Process of Using and Discontinuing Psychiatric Medication

Shimon Katz, Hadass Goldblatt, Ilanit Hasson-Ohayon, David Roe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Refusal to take psychiatric medication as prescribed is often considered negative, harmful, and even reflective of a sign of one’s illness. However, recent research from diverse sources has challenged this axiom. The current study investigated the reasons, processes, experiences, and perceived impacts of medication discontinuation. The study was carried out using the narrative approach to life stories method. Participants were 12 women and 9 men who had discontinued their prescribed medication following psychiatric hospitalization. Four main themes were revealed in the data analysis: (a) the experience with medication, (b) the process of discontinuing medication, (c) elements that helped achieve successful medication discontinuation, and (d) the perceived impact of medication discontinuation. Our findings challenge the widespread notion that discontinuing psychiatric medication is necessarily negative and suggest that, for some, it is a legitimate and meaningful life choice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)198-210
Number of pages13
JournalQualitative Health Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2018.


  • Israel
  • discontinuation of medication
  • narrative interviews
  • psychiatric care
  • qualitative research
  • serious mental illness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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