The Emerging Role of Clinical Pharmacopsychology
Background: Clinical pharmacopsychology is an area of clinical psychology that is concerned with the application of clinimetric methods to the assessment of psychotropic effects of drugs on psychological functioning, and the interaction of such drugs with specific or non-specific treatment ingredients. Clinical pharmacopsychology derives its data from observational and controlled studies on clinical populations and refers to the therapeutic use of medical drugs, not to the effects of substances used for other purposes.
Method: Domains and operational settings of clinical pharmacopsychology are illustrated.
Results: The domains of clinical pharmacopsychology extend over several areas of application which encompass the psychological effects of psychotropic drugs (with particular emphasis on subclinical changes), the characteristics that predict responsiveness to treatment, the vulnerabilities induced by treatment (i.e., side effects, behavioral toxicity, iatrogenic comorbidity), and the interactions between drug therapy and psychological variables. A service for clinical pharmacopsychology is here proposed as an example of the innovative role of clinical psychology in medical settings.
Conclusion: Clinical pharmacopsychology offers a unifying framework for the understanding of clinical phenomena in medical and psychiatric settings. Its aim is to provide a comprehensive assessment of the clinical important changes that are concerned with wanted and expected treatment effects; treatment-induced unwanted side effects; and the patient's own personal experience of a change in terms of well-being and/or quality of life. It is now time to practice clinical pharmacopsychology, creating ad hoc services in Europe.