Longitudinal assessment of psychotherapeutic day hospital treatment for neuropsychiatric symptoms in dementia

Aging Ment Health. 2009 Jan;13(1):92-8. doi: 10.1080/13607860802154523.


Objective: Behavioral and psychological symptoms (BPSD) of dementia are associated with more rapid cognitive deterioration as well as increased caregiver stress. The effectiveness of psychiatric day hospital care for this condition remains disputed. We report here the assessment of a psychotherapeutic day hospital program in a series of elderly people with dementia and concomitant BPSD.

Methods: Treatment setting: The day hospital program combined music, movement, psychodynamic group therapies, sociotherapy as well as individual interviews and family interventions.

Participants: 76 individuals with mild to moderate dementia.

Outcome measures: The Neuropsychiatric Inventory (NPI), Therapeutic Community Assessment scale including staff (SAS) and client assessments (CAS) and a Group Evaluation Scale (GES) were administrated at admission, 3, 6 and 12 months and discharge.

Results: Linear regression analysis showed that SAS (but not CAS) and GES scores significantly increased while the NPI total scores decreased across the different time points. NPI item score modifications were significant for anxiety and apathy. These changes remained significant when demographic variables, drug treatment changes and occurrence of life events were also considered.

Conclusion: A psychotherapeutic day hospital program designed for older people with dementia and neuropsychiatric symptoms allows for a significant reduction of anxiety and apathy, better adhesion to therapeutic community treatment and clinical progress in group therapy. Controlled interventional studies are needed to further confirm these data.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Day Care, Medical / methods*
  • Day Care, Medical / psychology*
  • Dementia / diagnosis
  • Dementia / psychology*
  • Dementia / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Neuropsychology
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Outpatient Clinics, Hospital
  • Psychotherapy / methods*
  • Psychotropic Drugs / therapeutic use
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Switzerland


  • Psychotropic Drugs