Neuropsychiatric symptoms of dementia in those with and without a recorded history of psychological trauma: A comparative study from an Australian dementia support service

Monica Cations, Mustafa Atee, Thomas Morris, Daniel Whiting

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1 Citation (Scopus)
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Abstract

Objective: To compare the number and severity of neuropsychiatric symptoms (NPS) and associated caregiver distress between those with and without a noted history of psychological trauma among those referred to a specialised national dementia NPS support service. 

Methods: This was a 5-year retrospective observational study of records from the Dementia Support Australia NPS support service. NPS were reported by formal or informal caregivers at service entry using the Neuropsychiatric Inventory Nursing Home version or Questionnaire version. A history of psychological trauma was recorded in the person's social or medical history and/or endorsed as a contributor to NPS by a trained dementia consultant after a comprehensive clinical review. Regression was used to examine the impact of a recorded history of psychological trauma on NPS severity and associated caregiver distress, controlling for age and sex. 

Results: Among 41,876 eligible referrals with dementia, 6% (n = 2529) had some reference in their records to a history of psychological trauma. Referrals with a recorded history of psychological trauma were rated with a higher rate of both NPS severity (mean = 12.0) and associated caregiver distress (mean = 16.5) at service entry than those without a recorded history of psychological trauma (means = 10.7 and 14.5, respectively). A recorded history of psychological trauma was associated with higher odds of psychotic symptoms, agitation/aggression, irritability, disinhibition, affective symptoms and night-time behaviours. 

Conclusions: Traumatic stress symptoms may represent a neglected target for intervention to reduce the impact of NPS in people with dementia.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere6054
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Volume39
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024

Keywords

  • dementia
  • neuropsychiatric symptoms
  • psychological trauma
  • traumatic stress

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