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Brief psychotherapy in Alzheimer's disease: randomised controlled trial

Although there is good evidence that interventions for carers of people with Alzheimer's disease can reduce stress, no systematic studies have investigated psychotherapeutic intervention for patients themselves. This may be important in the earlier stages of Alzheimer's disease, where insight is often preserved.

The aim was to assess, in a randomised controlled trial, whether psychotherapeutic intervention could benefit cognitive function, affective symptoms and global well-being.

Individuals were randomised to receive six sessions of psychodynamic interpersonal therapy or treatment as usual; cognitive function, activities of daily living, a global measure of change, and carer stress and coping were assessed prior to and after the intervention.

No improvement was found on the majority of outcome measures. There was a suggestion that therapy had improved the carers' reactions to some of the symptoms.

There is no evidence to support the widespread introduction of brief psychotherapeutic approaches for those with Alzheimer's disease. However, the technique was acceptable and helpful individually.

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British Journal of Psychiatry

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