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Am J Psychiatry. 2018 Feb 1;175(2):159-168. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2017.17030316. Epub 2017 Sep 15.

Methylphenidate for Apathy in Community-Dwelling Older Veterans With Mild Alzheimer's Disease: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial.

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From the Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center, Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System, Little Rock; the Departments of Psychiatry, of Geriatrics, and of Biostatistics, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock; the School of Pharmacy and Health Professions, Creighton University, Omaha; Banner Thunderbird Medical Center, Glendale, Ariz.; Orlando VA Medical Center, Orlando, Fla.; the University of Central Florida College of Medicine, Orlando; and Banner Alzheimer's Institute, University of Arizona College of Medicine, Phoenix.



Apathy is a common behavioral problem in Alzheimer's disease. Apathy has profound consequences, such as functional impairment, higher service utilization, higher caregiver burden, and increased mortality. The authors' objective was to study the effects of methylphenidate on apathy in Alzheimer's disease.


A 12-week, prospective, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial (methylphenidate versus placebo) was conducted in community-dwelling veterans (N=60) with mild Alzheimer's disease. The primary outcome for apathy (Apathy Evaluation Scale-Clinician) and secondary outcomes for cognition (Mini-Mental State Examination, Modified Mini-Mental State Examination), functional status (activities of daily living, instrumental activities of daily living), improvement and severity (Clinical Global Impressions Scale [CGI]), caregiver burden (Zarit Burden Scale), and depression (Cornell Scale for Depression in Dementia) were measured at baseline and at 4, 8, and 12 weeks.


Participants were all men (77 years old, SD=8). After adjusting for baseline, the methylphenidate group had significantly greater improvement in apathy than the placebo group at 4 weeks, 8 weeks, and 12 weeks. At 12 weeks, there was also greater improvement in cognition, functional status, caregiver burden, CGI scores, and depression in the methylphenidate group compared with the placebo group.


Methylphenidate improved apathy in a group of community-dwelling veterans with mild Alzheimer's disease. Methylphenidate also improved cognition, functional status, caregiver burden, CGI scores, and depression.



Alzheimer’s Disease; Apathy; Community Dwelling; Methylphenidate; RCT

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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