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Behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia in patients with Alzheimer’s disease and family caregiver burden: a path analysis

Background: Studies reported the relationship between behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD), cognitive function, caregiver burden, and therapeutic effects. However, the causal relationship between BPSD in community-dwelling patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and caregiver burden is yet to be established. This study aimed to classify BPSD in patients with AD and identify the relationship between BPSD and the factors affecting family caregiver burden. Methods: Path analysis was conducted at a neurology outpatient clinic of a tertiary general hospital in South Korea. The medical records of 170 patients, aged ≥50 years, diagnosed with or suspected for AD were retrospectively reviewed. We investigated cognitive function (Korean version of the Mini-Mental-State Exam), dementia stages (Korean version of the Expanded Clinical Dementia Rating scale), depression (Short-form Geriatric Depression Scale-Korea), activities of daily living (ADL; Korean version of the Barthel Activities of Daily Living index), instrumental activities of daily living (IADL; Seoul-Instrumental Activities of Daily Living), and BPSD and caregiver burden (Korean Neuropsychiatric Inventory). Considering the characteristic features of BPSD with various symptoms, BPSD was classified using factor analysis. Factor extraction was performed using principal component analysis, followed by Varimax factor rotation. Results: Mean total BPSD score was 17.66 ± 20.67, and the mean score for family caregiver burden was 9.65 ± 11.12. Symptom cluster-1 (hyperactivity symptoms) included disinhibition, irritability, and agitation/aggression. Symptom cluster-2 (psychosis symptoms) included hallucinations, anxiety, elation/euphoria, delusions, and depression/dysphoria. Symptom cluster-3 (physical behaviour symptoms) included appetite and eating abnormalities, apathy/indifference, aberrant motor behaviour, sleep, and night-time behaviour disturbances. Dementia stages, ADL, and IADL had indirect effects on family caregiver burden through hyperactivity, psychosis, and physical behaviour symptoms, indicating that BPSD exerted a complete mediating effect. Conclusions: Unlike previous studies, we classified BPSD symptoms into similar symptom clusters to evaluate its effect on caregiver burden, rather than collectively investigating the 12 symptoms of BPSD. As the dementia stage worsens, symptom clusters in BPSD serve as a medium between ADL and IADL degradation and for the increase in caregivers’ burden. The development and implementation of therapeutic, nursing interventions, and policies focusing on dementia stages, ADL, and IADL, delaying and preventing BPSD can alleviate family caregivers’ burden.

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BMC Geriatrics
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