Vol. 7 nº 3 - Jul/Aug/Set de 2013
Original Article Páginas: 286 a 291

The association between caregiver distress and individual neuropsychiatric symptoms of dementia

Authors Annibal Truzzi1; Letice Valente2; Eliasz Engelhardt3; Jerson Laks4


keywords: neuropsychiatric symptoms, caregiver distress, Alzheimer's disease, dementia.

Neuropsychiatric symptoms (NPS) of dementia constitute one of the most related factors to caregiver burden and patients' early institutionalization. Few studies in Brazil have examined which symptoms are associated with higher levels of caregiver distress.
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the caregiver distress related to individual NPS in familial caregivers of patients with dementia. We also examined which caregiver and patient factors predict caregiver distress associated with NPS.
METHODS: One hundred and fifty-nine familial caregiver and dementia outpatient dyads were included. The majority of the patients had a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease (66.7%). Caregivers were assessed with a sociodemographic questionnaire, Beck Anxiety and Depression Inventories, and the Neuropsychiatric Inventory - Distress Scale. Patients were submitted to the Mini-Mental State Examination, Functional Activities Questionnaire, and the Neuropsychiatric Inventory. Spearman's rank correlation was used to assess the relationships between the continuous variables. Multiple linear regression analyses with backward stepping were performed to assess the ability of caregiver and patient characteristics to predict levels of caregiver distress associated with NPS.
RESULTS: Apathy (M=1.9; SD=1.8), agitation (M=1.3; SD=1.8), and aberrant motor behavior (AMB) (M=1.2; SD=1.7) were the most distressful NPS. The frequency/severity of NPS was the strongest factor associated with caregiver distress (rho=0.72; p<0.05).
CONCLUSION: The early recognition and management of apathy, agitation and AMB in dementia patients by family members and health professionals may lead to better care and quality of life for both patients and caregivers.


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