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The optimal adrenergic support in shock is controversial. We investigated whether dopamine administration influences the outcome from shock.Cohort, multiple-center, observational study.One hundred and ninety-eight European intensive care units.All adult patients admitted to a participating intensive care unit between May 1 and May 15, 2002.None.Patients were followed up until death, until hospital discharge, or for 60 days. Shock was defined as hemodynamic compromise necessitating the administration of vasopressor catecholamines. Of 3,147 patients, 1,058 (33.6%) had shock at any time; 462 (14.7%) had septic shock. The intensive care unit mortality rate for shock was 38.3% and 47.4% for septic shock. Of patients in shock, 375 (35.4%) received dopamine (dopamine group) and 683 (64.6%) never received dopamine. Age, gender, Simplified Acute Physiology Score II, and Sequential Organ Failure Assessment score were comparable between the two groups. The dopamine group had higher intensive care unit (42.9% vs. 35.7%, p = .02) and hospital (49.9% vs. 41.7%, p = .01) mortality rates. A Kaplan-Meier survival curve showed diminished 30 day-survival in the dopamine group (log rank = 4.6, p = .032). In a multivariate analysis with intensive care unit outcome as the dependent factor, age, cancer, medical admissions, higher mean Sequential Organ Failure Assessment score, higher mean fluid balance, and dopamine administration were independent risk factors for intensive care unit mortality in patients with shock.This observational study suggests that dopamine administration may be associated with increased mortality rates in shock. There is a need for a prospective study comparing dopamine with other catecholamines in the management of circulatory shock.