Background: There is a lack of clarity in the literature on the impact of antipsychotic discontinuation in dementia.
Method: We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of published randomized controlled studies comparing the effects of antipsychotic discontinuation versus continuation in dementia. MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycInfo, Cochrane Library and CINAHL were searched. Severity change of behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) was the primary outcome.
Results: Ten studies were included in the systematic review and 9 studies in the meta-analysis. The results showed that the antipsychotic discontinuation group had no statistically significant difference in BPSD severity change compared to the continuation group (n = 214, standardized mean difference: 0.19, 95% CI: -0.20 to 0.58). Secondary outcome analyses revealed that the discontinuation group included a statistically significantly higher proportion of subjects whose BPSD severity worsened (n = 366, risk ratio: 1.78, 95% CI: 1.31-2.41). Although not statistically significant, the discontinuation group appeared to have higher early study termination rates and a lower mortality during follow-up.
Conclusions: This meta-analysis showed that antipsychotic discontinuation resulted in no statistically significant difference in BPSD severity change, early study terminations and mortality. However, a statistically significantly higher proportion of subjects with BPSD worsened in this group compared to the continuation group. Further studies are needed to explore the effects of antipsychotic discontinuation on BPSD. © 2013 S. Karger AG, Basel.