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Lithium for schizophrenia

Overview of attention for article published in Cochrane database of systematic reviews, October 2015
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  • In the top 25% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (92nd percentile)
  • Good Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age and source (68th percentile)

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30 tweeters


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169 Mendeley
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Lithium for schizophrenia
Published in
Cochrane database of systematic reviews, October 2015
DOI 10.1002/14651858.cd003834.pub3
Pubmed ID

Stefan Leucht, Bartosz Helfer, Markus Dold, Werner Kissling, John J McGrath


Many people with schizophrenia do not achieve a satisfactory treatment response with ordinary anti-psychotic drug treatment. In these cases, various add-on medications are used, among them lithium. To assess whether:1. Lithium alone is an effective treatment for schizophrenia, schizophrenia-like psychoses and schizoaffective psychoses; and2. Lithium augmentation of antipsychotic medication is an effective treatment for the same illnesses. In July 2012, we searched the Cochrane Schizophrenia Group's Study-Based Register of Trials which is based on regular searches of CINAHL, BIOSIS, AMED, EMBASE, PubMed, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, and registries of clinical trials. This search was updated on January 20, 2015. For the first version of the review, we also contacted pharmaceutical companies and authors of relevant studies to identify further trials and obtain original participant data. Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of lithium compared with antipsychotics or placebo (or no intervention), whether as sole treatment or as an adjunct to antipsychotic medication, in the treatment of schizophrenia or schizophrenia-like psychoses or both. We extracted data independently. For dichotomous data, we calculated random-effects meta-analyses, risk ratios (RRs), and 95% confidence intervals (CI) on an intention-to-treat basis. For continuous data, we calculated mean differences (MD) and 95% confidence intervals. We used Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) to create 'Summary of findings' tables and assessed risk of bias for included studies. The update search in 2012 detected two further studies that met our inclusion criteria. We did not find any further studies that met our inclusion criteria in the 2015 search. This review now includes 22 studies, with a total of 763 participants (median mean age: 35 years, range: 26 to 72 years). Most studies were small, of short duration, and incompletely reported. As we detected a high risk of bias in many studies, the overall methodological quality of the included sample was rather low.Three small studies comparing lithium with placebo as the sole treatment showed no difference in any of the outcomes we analysed.In eight studies comparing lithium with antipsychotic drugs as the sole treatment, more participants in the lithium group left the studies early (eight RCTs; n = 270, RR 1.77, 95% CI 1.01 to 3.11, low quality evidence).Thirteen studies examined whether the augmentation of antipsychotic drugs with lithium salts is more effective than antipsychotic drugs alone. More participants who received lithium augmentation had a clinically significant response (10 RCTs; n = 396, RR 1.81, 95% CI 1.10 to 2.97, low quality evidence). However, this effect became non-significant when we excluded participants with schizoaffective disorders in a sensitivity analysis (seven RCTs; n = 272, RR 1.64, 95% CI 0.95 to 2.81), when we excluded non-double-blind studies (seven RCTs; n = 224, RR 1.82, 95% CI 0.84 to 3.96), or when we excluded studies with high attrition (nine RCTs; n = 355, RR 1.67, CI 0.93 to 3.00). The overall acceptability of treatment (measured by the number of participants leaving the studies early) was not significantly different between groups (11 RCTs; n = 320, RR 1.89, CI 0.93 to 3.84, very low quality evidence). Few studies reported on side effects. There were no significant differences, but the database is too limited to make any judgement in this regard. For example, there were no data on thyroid dysfunction and kidney problems - two major and well-known side effects of lithium. The evidence base for the use of lithium in schizophrenia is limited to 22 studies of overall low methodological quality. There is no randomised trial-based evidence that lithium on its own is an effective treatment for people with schizophrenia. There is some GRADE low quality evidence that augmentation of antipsychotics with lithium is effective, but the effects are not significant when more prone-to-bias open RCTs are excluded. Nevertheless, further large and well-designed trials are justified. These should concentrate on two target groups: (1) people with no affective symptoms, so that trialists can determine whether lithium has an effect on the core symptoms of schizophrenia, and (2) people with schizoaffective disorders for whom lithium is widely used in clinical practice, although there is no evidence to support this use.

Twitter Demographics

The data shown below were collected from the profiles of 30 tweeters who shared this research output. Click here to find out more about how the information was compiled.

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 169 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
United Kingdom 1 <1%
India 1 <1%
Denmark 1 <1%
Unknown 166 98%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Master 33 20%
Student > Bachelor 27 16%
Researcher 24 14%
Student > Ph. D. Student 21 12%
Other 11 7%
Other 35 21%
Unknown 18 11%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Medicine and Dentistry 52 31%
Psychology 27 16%
Nursing and Health Professions 15 9%
Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutical Science 10 6%
Social Sciences 6 4%
Other 28 17%
Unknown 31 18%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 24. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 04 September 2020.
All research outputs
of 15,979,707 outputs
Outputs from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 11,348 outputs
Outputs of similar age
of 287,322 outputs
Outputs of similar age from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 257 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 15,979,707 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 94th percentile: it's in the top 10% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 11,348 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 23.7. This one has done well, scoring higher than 78% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 287,322 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 92% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 257 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has gotten more attention than average, scoring higher than 68% of its contemporaries.