Non-pharmacological management of behavioural symptoms in nursing homes




Behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) are often reported in institutions for the elderly.


To evaluate the effectiveness of a staff education intervention to manage BPSD in older people with a diagnosis of dementia.


The trial was conducted in 16 nursing homes; 306 patients with a diagnosis of dementia and presenting BPSD were selected. Nursing homes were randomly allocated to an intervention group or a control group. An 8-week staff education and training programme was conducted in the nursing homes in the intervention group. The main outcome measures were the Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory (CMAI) and an Observation Scale (OS) score. Assessments were done at baseline (W0), at the end of the ‘intervention’ period (W8) and 12 weeks after (W20).


There was a significant decrease in the global CMAI score between baseline and W8 (−7.8; p > 0.01) and between baseline and W20 (−6.5; p > 0.01) in the intervention group but not in the control group. Results of mixed linear models showed that the CMAI global score, the CMAI physically non-aggressive behaviours subscale score and verbally non-aggressive behaviours subscale score significantly decreased in the intervention group (p < 0.001) although there was no significant evolution in the control group. Direct assessment with the OS produced the same pattern of results, with a significant decrease only in the intervention group.


The intervention reduced BPSD in severely demented nursing home residents and this effect was still present 3 months after the end of the programme. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.