Haloperidol for the treatment of nausea and vomiting in palliative care patients

We did not identify any randomised controlled trials (RCTs) to find out if haloperidol is a useful drug for the treatment of nausea or vomiting in palliative care patients. Nausea and vomiting are common problems for patients with serious life threatening illnesses and haloperidol is a drug which is sometimes prescribed to help treat these symptoms. This drug can be given orally or by injection. There has been some research looking at how this drug works in sickness caused by surgery and when trying to prevent sickness caused by anti-cancer treatments. During a search of the international literature no studies looking at this treatment in seriously ill or terminally ill patients were found. There is not enough evidence to be able to recommend haloperidol for the treatment of nausea and vomiting in adult patients suffering from incurable progressive medical conditions.

Authors' conclusions: 

We did not identify any RCTs exploring the effectiveness of haloperidol for nausea and vomiting in palliative care patients.

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Background: 

Nausea and vomiting are common symptoms of patients with terminal, incurable illnesses and can be distressing.

Objectives: 

The primary objective of the review was to evaluate the efficacy and adverse events associated with the use of haloperidol for the treatment of nausea and vomiting in palliative care patients.

Search strategy: 

Several electronic databases were searched including CENTRAL, MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL and AMED, using relevant search terms and synonyms. Handsearching complemented electronic searches (using reference lists of included studies, relevant chapters and review articles). There were no language restrictions imposed. Database searching was performed between 2nd and 16th September 2007.

Selection criteria: 

Studies considered for inclusion were randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of haloperidol for the treatment of nausea or vomiting, or both, in any setting. The studies had to be conducted with adults receiving palliative care or suffering from an incurable progressive medical condition. Studies where nausea or vomiting, or both, thought to be secondary to pregnancy or surgery were excluded.

Data collection and analysis: 

Records from each of the electronic databases were imported into a bibliographic package and merged into a core database where titles, keywords and abstracts were inspected for relevance. If it was not possible to accept or reject an abstract with certainty, the full text of the article was obtained for further evaluation. The two review authors independently assessed studies in accordance with the inclusion criteria. There were no differences in opinion between authors with regard to assessment of studies.

Main results: 

No RCTs were identified meeting the inclusion criteria. Twenty-six studies were considered but all were excluded from the review.