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Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2008 Sep;23(9):889-95. doi: 10.1002/gps.1998.

Stopping antipsychotic drug therapy in demented nursing home patients: a randomized, placebo-controlled study--the Bergen District Nursing Home Study (BEDNURS).

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Department of Public Health and Primary Health Care, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway.



Despite modest efficacy, unpredictable individual utility, and a high rate of adverse effects, behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) are common determinants for antipsychotic drug therapy in nursing home patients.


To explore the impact on BPSD of stopping long-term antipsychotic treatment in nursing home patients with dementia.


Fifty-five patients (43 women; mean age 84.1) taking haloperidol, risperidone, or olanzapine for BPSD were randomly assigned to cessation (intervention group, n=27) or continued treatment with antipsychotic drugs (reference group, n=28) for 4 consecutive weeks. The Neuropsychiatric Inventory (NPI) Questionnaire was used to examine changes in behavioural and psychological symptoms.


By study completion, 23 of the 27 intervention group patients were still off antipsychotics. Symptom scores (NPI) remained stable or even improved in 42 patients (intervention group, 18 out of 27; reference group, 24 out of 28; p=0.18). As compared to patients with stable or improved symptom scores, patients with behavioural deterioration after antipsychotic cessation used higher daily drug doses at baseline (p=0.42).


A large share of elderly nursing home patients on long-term treatment with antipsychotics for BPSD, do well without this treatment. Standardized symptom evaluations and drug cessation attempts should therefore be undertaken at regular intervals.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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