Teaching Caregivers of Persons with Dementia to Address Pain

Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2017 Feb;25(2):144-154. doi: 10.1016/j.jagp.2016.04.009. Epub 2016 Apr 27.


Objectives: To compare the efficacy of Preventing Aggression in Veterans with Dementia (PAVeD) with that of usual care in decreasing incidence of aggression (primary outcome) and pain and improving depression, pleasant events, caregiver burden, and patient-caregiver relationship quality (secondary outcomes).

Design: Randomized controlled trial with assessments at baseline and 3, 6, 9, and 12 months SETTING: Houston, TX.

Participants: A total of 203 community-dwelling veterans with pain and dementia and their caregivers.

Intervention: PAVeD, 6 to 8 weekly sessions of 45-minute home visits with masters-level clinicians providing instruction to caregivers on recognizing pain, enhancing communication, and making daily activities pleasant and enjoyable, and at least two elective sessions.

Measurements: Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory (primary outcome), Philadelphia Geriatric Pain Intensity Scale, Geriatric Depression Scale, Pleasant Events Schedule-AD, Burden Interview, Mutuality Scale (secondary outcomes), Client Satisfaction Questionnaire.

Results: There were no significant differences in aggression incidence between intervention and control groups, although the PAVeD group had significantly better mutuality than controls.

Conclusions: PAVeD may need to address a broader range and more in-depth coverage of aggression risk factors with person-centered tailoring to target certain types of distress. Interventions to prevent aggression may also need to address medical providers in addition to caregivers.

Keywords: aggression; caregiving; dementia; pain; veterans.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aggression / psychology*
  • Caregivers / education*
  • Databases, Factual
  • Dementia / complications*
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Independent Living
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / epidemiology*
  • Pain Management / methods*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Risk Factors
  • Texas / epidemiology
  • Veterans / psychology*