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Relationship between observable emotional expression and wandering behavior of people with dementia




This study explored the relationship between observable emotional expression and wandering behaviors of people with dementia (PWD).


A secondary data analysis was conducted of a multi-site study that used a cross-sectional design with repeated measures nested within subjects. Participants included 142 PWD residing in 17 nursing homes and six assisted-living facilities in Michigan and Pennsylvania who were randomly assigned to six 20-min videotaped observation periods, conducted on two non-consecutive days. Poisson hierarchical linear modeling was used to examine associations between emotional expression and wandering.


Participants exhibited an average of 13.5 (standard deviation [SD] ± 12.4) episodes of positive emotional expression per observation; only 1.5 (SD ± 2.3) episodes of negative emotional expression per observation were noted. The mean wandering rate was 2.9 episodes (SD ± 6.9) per hour. Positive emotional expression was positively related to wandering rates, whereas negative emotional expression and higher cognitive status were negatively related to wandering rates after controlling for other predictors (age, education, gender, facility type, mobility, and time of day).


Both positive and negative emotional expressions, along with cognitive status, should be considered when developing interventions to improve wandering behaviors of PWD. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.