Background: Case series and reviews have suggested the effectiveness of zuclopenthixol acetate in the acute management of disturbed behaviour caused by serious mental illnesses. This review investigates the trial-based evidence for these suggestions.
Methods: All randomized clinical trials comparing zuclopenthixol acetate to other 'standard' treatments for the acute management of those with serious mental illnesses were identified and, if possible, their results summated.
Results: Six trials were identified. All had methodological problems and one did not meet the minimal methodological inclusion criteria. The summary data do not demonstrate that zuclopenthixol acetate is better than 'standard care' for altering behaviour, decreasing the need for supplementary medication, avoiding side-effects, or postponing early discharge against medical advice. One trial, however, presented data that suggested an earlier, more intense level of sedation.
Conclusions: Recommendations of reviews and open studies for the use of zuclopenthixol acetate in preference to 'standard' treatments in the psychiatric emergency are not supported by evidence from randomized controlled trials.