Alternatives to anti-psychotic use in dementia


The National Dementia Strategy was launched early in 2009 with a view to enabling people to live well with dementia. Reducing the inappropriate use of antipsychotic drugs is one of the 4 national priorities for the strategy and the focus of a national call to action across health and social care in June 2011.

This project aims to support and speed up the implementation of the dementia strategy on antipsychotics, by reviewing the evidence on non-pharmaceutical alternatives and promoting practice change.


We undertook an overview of systematic reviews of the effectiveness of alternatives to antipsychotics for the Department of Health, in collaboration with the Policy Innovation Research Unit. This project examined 30 recent systematic reviews in order to provide a comprehensive overview of the effectiveness of non-pharmacological interventions for managing neuropsychiatric symptoms and challenging behaviours among patients with different types and severity of dementia in a range of settings. The conclusions of all recent high quality systematic reviews are summarised and compared, and knowledge gaps are highlighted, so that the best current evidence can be made available to policy-makers, commissioners and clinicians.

We are also working with NHS Midlands and East to facilitate the dissemination of evidence and good practice locally and regionally through the joint appointment of a knowledge broker.


The review of the evidence was undertaken through a sub-contract between the Policy Innovation Research Unit (PIRU ) and NIHC CLAHRC CP and the Evidence for Policy and Practice Information and Co-ordinating Centre (EPPI-Centre, Institute of Education. We are working with NHS Midlands and East, clinical commissioning groups, pharmacists and service providers for dissemination activities.

For more information contact: Dr Louise Lafortune, Cambridge Institute of Public Health, University of Cambridge,


Useful links

Briefing paper: Alternatives to antipsychotic drugs for patients with dementia.
 WORKSHOP – Download a report on a workshop Exploring the use of antipsychotic medication in people with dementia held in May 2012.