Neuropsychiatric Symptom Profiles of Community-Dwelling Persons Living with Dementia: Factor Structures Revisited

Abstract [from journal]

Objectives: Most persons living with dementia (PLWD) will develop neuropsychiatric symptoms (NPS) at some point. NPS are often clustered into subsyndromes with other, related symptoms, but the evidence supporting commonly-used clusters is insufficient. We reexamine behavioral clusters in community-dwelling PLWD, and identify associated risk factors and potential contributors.

Methods: This study used baseline data from a longitudinal behavioral intervention study of 250 community-dwelling older adults with dementia and their caregivers. Using exploratory factor analysis (principal component analysis), the factor structure of NPS frequency scores of the Neuropsychiatric Inventory (NPI-C) was evaluated. Multiple linear regressions assessed the association of the derived behavioral clusters with caregiver burden, caregiver depression, and quality of life of the PLWD.

Results: Principal component analysis yielded eight behavioral clusters (factors): 1 = Aggression/Rejection of Care, 2 = Apathy/Withdrawal, 3 = Restlessness/Agitation, 4 = Anxiety, 5 = Impulsivity/Disinhibition, 6 = Psychosis, 7 = Circadian Disturbance, and 8 = Depression. In multiple linear regressions, caregiver burden was significantly influenced by the anxiety cluster, caregiver depression was significantly influenced by the apathy/withdrawal cluster, and quality of life of the PLWD was significantly associated with the anxiety and circadian disturbance clusters.

Conclusions: Our eight derived behavioral clusters suggest that commonly accepted clusters of NPS may not reflect the clinical reality for community-dwelling PLWD. Behavioral clusters appear to differentially impact and put caregivers and PLWD at risk such that personalized intervention strategies are warranted.