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Review: haloperidol does not reduce agitation in dementia

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 QUESTION: In patients with dementia, is haloperidol effective for decreasing agitation?

Data sources

Studies were identified by searching the Specialized Register of the Cochrane Dementia and Cognitive Improvement Group, which contains records from 15 databases. Pharmaceutical companies and authors were contacted.

Study selection

2 reviewers independently selected studies in any language if they were randomised, placebo controlled trials with allocation concealment and assessment of agitation before and after treatment; if they involved patients who had dementia (unclassified or diagnosed according to criteria) and agitation and treatable causes were ruled out; and if they evaluated haloperidol for > 1 week.

Data extraction

Reviewers assessed the quality of studies and extracted data on patient and study characteristics, interventions, and outcomes (the main outcome was decrease in manifestations of agitation).

Main results

5 studies (876 patients, mean age range 72 to 82 y, 56% to 67% …

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  • Source of funding: not stated.

  • For correspondence:Dr E Lonergan, VA Medical Center, San Francisco, California, USA. tedlnrgn{at} or edmund.lonergan{at}