Evidence-based psychological treatments for disruptive behaviors in individuals with dementia

Psychol Aging. 2007 Mar;22(1):28-36. doi: 10.1037/0882-7974.22.1.28.


In this article, the authors review the literature regarding evidence-based psychological treatments (EBTs) for behavioral disturbances in older adults with dementia, as proposed by the American Psychological Association's Committee on Science and Practice of the Society for Clinical Psychology. Fifty-seven randomized clinical trials were reviewed for inclusion on the basis of titles or abstract information. Forty-three were excluded either because they did not meet EBT methodological criteria or because they involved environmental or psychoeducational nursing interventions in which the psychological component could not be separately evaluated. Fourteen studies were considered for inclusion as EBTs; of these, 8 showed significant differences between treatment and control groups. Results of this review indicate that behavioral problem-solving therapies that identify and modify antecedents and consequences of problem behaviors and increase pleasant events and individualized interventions based on progressively lowered stress threshold models that include problem solving and environmental modification meet EBT criteria. Additional randomized clinical trials are needed to evaluate the generalizability and efficacy of these and other promising psychological interventions in a variety of settings with individuals who have a range of cognitive, functional, and physical strengths and limitations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease / epidemiology
  • Alzheimer Disease / therapy
  • Attention Deficit and Disruptive Behavior Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Attention Deficit and Disruptive Behavior Disorders / therapy*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Dementia / epidemiology*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / methods*
  • Humans