Causes of Aggressive Behavior in Patients With Dementia

J Clin Psychiatry. 2010 Sep;71(9):1145-52. doi: 10.4088/JCP.08m04703oli. Epub 2010 Mar 9.

Abstract

Objective: To examine factors predicting development of aggression.

Method: Community-dwelling patients over 60 years of age in a Veterans Affairs Medical Center who had a documented ICD-9-CM code for dementia within 12 months of screening and no other dementia codes recorded for 2 preceding years but no aggressive behavior during the 12 months preceding study initiation were assessed every 4 months for 24 months for aggression, depression, pain, patient/caregiver relationship quality (mutuality), involvement in pleasant events, and caregiver burden. The study was conducted from September 5, 2003, to June 10, 2005.

Results: Of 215 patients, 89 (41%) developed aggression. In individual models, high baseline mutuality decreased risk of aggression; high burden and pain increased risk. Increases in depression and pain and declines in total mutuality also increased risk. In a full model and step-wise model, high levels of baseline caregiver burden, worst pain, and decline in mutuality over time increased risk of aggression.

Conclusions: Many dementia patients become aggressive. Higher levels of worst pain, caregiver burden, and declining mutuality over time increase risk of aggression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aggression / psychology*
  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnosis
  • Alzheimer Disease / epidemiology
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology*
  • Caregivers / psychology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cost of Illness
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dementia / diagnosis
  • Dementia / epidemiology
  • Dementia / psychology*
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Family Relations
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hospitals, Veterans
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Psychological
  • Pain / diagnosis
  • Pain / epidemiology
  • Pain / psychology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Environment