Objectives: To compare treatment of nursing home residents with dementia and lower respiratory tract infection (LRI) in Missouri and the Netherlands.
Design: Two separate but simultaneous prospective cohort studies.
Setting: Nursing homes in Missouri (n=36) and the Netherlands (n=61).
Participants: Selected residents (701 from Missouri and 551 from the Netherlands) diagnosed with LRI and dementia.
Measurements: Treatment, dementia severity, symptoms and signs of LRI, and general health condition were recorded at the time of diagnosis of LRI. Death was monitored at follow-up. Treatment and mortality, stratified for dementia severity, are reported.
Results: Treatment of nursing home-acquired LRI in Missouri residents involved a larger number of antibiotics, more frequent hospitalization, and greater use of intravenous antibiotics and rehydration therapy than in Dutch residents of equal dementia severity. Furthermore, for Missouri residents, intensive interventions were more often provided irrespective of severe dementia. By contrast, in both countries, treatments to relieve symptoms of LRI were provided for only a minority of residents. Dutch mortality rates were higher overall.
Conclusion: Care for U.S. nursing home residents with LRI and dementia is more aggressive than care for Dutch residents, particularly in residents with severe dementia. These results are relevant to the debate on optimal care in relation to curative or palliative treatment goals.