Longitudinal Relationships between Alzheimer Disease Progression and Psychosis, Depressed Mood, and Agitation/Aggression

Zahodne, Laura B.; Ornstein, Katherine; Cosentino, Stephanie; Devanand, Devangere P.; Stern, Yaakov

OBJECTIVES: Behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) are prevalent in Alzheimer disease (AD) and are related to poor outcomes such as nursing home placement. No study has examined the impact of individual BPSD on dependence, a clinically important feature that reflects changing patient needs and their effect on caregivers. The current study characterized independent cross-sectional and longitudinal relationships between three BPSD (psychosis, depressed mood, and agitation/aggression), cognition, and dependence to better understand the interplay between these symptoms over time. DESIGN: The Predictors Study measured changes in BPSD, cognition, and dependence every 6 months in patients with AD. Cross-sectional and longitudinal relationships between individual BPSD, cognition, and dependence over 6 years were characterized by using multivariate latent growth curve modeling. This approach characterizes independent changes in multiple outcome measures over time. SETTING: Four memory clinics in the United States and Europe. PARTICIPANTS: A total of 517 patients with probable AD. MEASUREMENTS: Columbia University Scale for Psychopathology, modified Mini-Mental State Examination, and Dependence Scale. RESULTS: Both psychosis and depressed mood at study entry were associated with worse subsequent cognitive decline. Independent of cognitive decline, initial psychosis was associated with worse subsequent increases in dependence. Rates of increase in agitation/aggression separately correlated with rates of declines in both cognition and independence. CONCLUSIONS: Although purely observational, our findings support the poor prognosis associated with psychosis and depression in AD. Results also show that agitation/aggression tracks declines in cognition and independence independently over time. Targeted intervention for individual BPSD, particularly psychosis, could have broad effects not only on patient well-being but also on care costs and family burden.


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American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry

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February 23, 2018