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Severe Agitation in Dementia: An Explorative Secondary Data Analysis on the Prevalence and Associated Factors in Nursing Home Residents [2018]

Background:
The phenomena of severe agitation is not well understood and often not adequately treated.

Objective:
This article determines the prevalence and associated factors of severe agitation in nursing home residents with dementia.

Methods:
Secondary data analysis within an observational study in German nursing homes with n = 1,967 participants. We assessed severity of agitation with the Neuropsychiatric Inventory Questionnaire (NPI-Q) and defined the construct of agitation as a composite score of the NPI-Q items agitation/aggression, disinhibition, and irritability/lability; the dependent variable of severe agitation was considered as being present in residents who scored ‘severe’ in at least one of these symptoms. A binary logistic regression model was calculated to estimate associations.

Results:
The prevalence of severe agitation was 6.3% (n = 124). The strongest associations were found for elation/euphoria (OR 7.6, CI 3.1–18.5), delusions (OR 7.3, CI 4.0–13.2), apathy/indifference (OR 2.8, CI 1.7–4.7), anxiety (OR 2.2, CI 1.2–3.8), nighttime behaviors (OR 2.4, CI 1.4–4.2), motor disturbances (OR 2.4, CI 1.4–4.1), and male sex (OR 2.4. CI 1.3–4.2).

Conclusion:
Severe agitation in nursing home residents with dementia is a relevant clinical issue as approximately 70% of residents have a dementia. Residents with elation/euphoria and delusions may have a stronger risk of showing severe agitation. We consider delusions as a possible cause of agitation and therefore a prelude to agitation. Although it might be possible that elation/euphoria follows from agitation, we hypothesize that the residents first experience elation/ euphoria and exhibit agitation afterwards.

Palm, Rebecca | Sorg, Christian G.G. | Ströbel, Armin | Gerritsen, Debby L. | Holle, Bernhard
Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, Vol. 66, No. 4, 2018
DOI: 10.3233/JAD-180647
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