Objectives: To evaluate the impact of a combination of caregiver support group and memory training/music therapy in dementia patients on behavioural and psychological symptoms (BPSD) and caregiver burden compared to a control group.
Method: Eighteen patient-carer-dyads in the treatment group and 18 patient-carer-dyads as controls were studied in the setting of a memory clinic of a psychiatric university hospital over a period of 2 years. Controls were matched for age, gender, diagnosis, dementia severity, living arrangement and medication. The interventions were conducted once per week for 1 hour run by a clinical psychogeriatric team. Outcome measures were patients' cognitive and functional status as well as BPSD and caregivers subjective burden and depression measured by validated scales. Data were obtained 6, 12 and 24 months after baseline.
Results: There were no significant differences between the intervention and control group neither after 6, 12 nor after 24 months treatment.
Conclusions: The lack of a positive impact in alleviating caregiver burden or BPSD after intensive psychological interventions may result from extensive care in the routine clinical management including individual counselling for patients and families. The effect of ‘treatment as usual’ needs to be taken into account when comparing an intervention and control group, as well as the dosage of the intervention. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.