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Background: Agitation is a common experience for people living with dementia, particularly as day-to-day function and cognition start to decline more. At the present time there are limited pharmacological options for relieving agitation and little is known about the safety and efficacy of opioid drugs in this setting. Objectives: To determine the clinical efficacy and safety of opioids for agitation in people with dementia. Search methods: We searched ALOIS, the Cochrane Dementia and Cognitive Improvement Group Specialized Register, on 13 June 2014 using the terms: narcotic OR opioid OR opium OR morphine OR buprenorphine OR codeine OR dextromoramide OR diphenoxylate OR dipipanone OR dextropropoxyphene OR propoxyphene OR diamorphine OR dihydrocodeine OR alfentanil OR fentanyl OR remifentanil OR meptazinol OR methadone OR nalbuphine OR oxycodone OR papaveretum OR pentazocine OR meperidine OR pethidine OR phenazocine OR hydrocodone OR hydromorphone OR levorphanol OR oxymorphone OR butorphanol OR dezocine OR sufentanil OR ketobemidone. ALOIS contains records of clinical trials identified from monthly searches of a number of major healthcare databases such as MEDLINE, EMBASE and PscyINFO, as well as numerous trial registries and grey literature sources. Selection criteria: Randomised, controlled trials of opioids compared to placebo for agitation in people with dementia. Data collection and analysis: Two authors independently assessed the studies identified by the search against the inclusion criteria. Main results: There are currently no completed randomised, placebo controlled trials of opioids for agitation in dementia. There are two potentially relevant trials still in progress. Authors' conclusions: We found insufficient evidence to establish the clinical efficacy and safety of opioids for agitation in people with dementia. There remains a lack of data to determine if or when opioids either relieve or exacerbate agitation. More evidence is needed to guide the effective, appropriate and safe use of opioids in dementia.
Brown, R., Howard, R., Candy, B., & Sampson, E. L. (2015, May 14). Opioids for agitation in dementia. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. John Wiley and Sons Ltd. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD009705.pub2