[A version of this item features in Dementia: the Latest Evidence Newsletter (Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust), Volume 3 Issue 4, November 2012].
This systematic review examined previous reviews of the behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) to achieve an overview of their prevalence, course, biological and psychosocial associations, and attempt to arrive at a broad assessment of general issues relating to care and outcomes. BPSD includes depressive symptoms, anxiety, apathy, sleep problems, irritability, psychosis, wandering, aggression and agitation.
The authors discovered limitations and gaps in previous research, including a lack of high quality reviews. Earlier reviews investigated the prevalence or course of symptoms, but have tended to ignore the effects of BPSD on outcomes and care. Biological factors associated with BPSD include genetic factors, homocysteine levels and vascular changes. BPSD is associated with the burden of care, and impacts on caregiver’s general health and depression, but findings about institutionalisation, quality of life and disease outcome are limited.
More high quality reviews about all aspects of BPSD are required, including more longitudinal studies and research with improved sampling methodologies, in order to better assess the risk factors and course of BPSD and thereby inform prevention, treatment and general improvements to the quality of life for the patients and their carers.
van der Linde, RM. Stephan, BC, Savva, GM. [et al] (2012). Systematic reviews on behavioural and psychological symptoms in the older or demented population. Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy, July 11th 2012, Vol.4(4), pp.28. (Click here to view the PubMed abstract).