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Controlled trials look at intervention use for people living with dementia at home

Understanding the effectiveness of non-pharmacological interventions for behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia in people living at home

Understanding the effectiveness of non-pharmacological interventions for behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia in people living at home

Two thirds of people living with dementia live at home in the UK. Many have distressing behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) such as depression, wandering, apathy and aggression.


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This study investigated the effectiveness of non-pharmacological interventions for BPSD in people with dementia living at home through a systematic review of randomised control trials. A total of 48 RCT studies were found evaluating interventions for people living with dementia alone (seven studies), family carers alone (18 studies) and patient-carer dyads (23 studies).

The studies’ results were in varied forms unsuitable for meta-analysis so a narrative synthesis was reported. It was evident that there was no commonality in language or understanding between professional groups or between professionals and family carers as to the nature or range of behavioural and psychological symptoms.

Multi-component, intensive programmes delivered by nurses and occupational therapists appeared to help people with dementia with BPSD, but comparisons between professional groups were lacking as were data over longer periods. The highest quality evidence identified was for family carer training and educational programmes that focused on target problem behaviours and potential triggers which had potential for improved outcomes, but family carer and readiness to engage was an important factor.


Trivedi DP, Braun A, Dickinson A et al (2018) Managing behavioural and psychological symptoms in community dwelling older people with dementia: 1. A systematic review of the effectiveness of interventions. Dementia (London). doi: 10.1177/1471301218762851.

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