Recommendations for the Nonpharmacological Treatment of Apathy in Brain Disorders

Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2020 Apr;28(4):410-420. doi: 10.1016/j.jagp.2019.07.014. Epub 2019 Aug 9.

Abstract

Apathy is a common neuropsychiatric syndrome observed across many neurocognitive and psychiatric disorders. Although there are currently no definitive standard therapies for the treatment of apathy, nonpharmacological treatment (NPT) is often considered to be at the forefront of clinical management. However, guidelines on how to select, prescribe, and administer NPT in clinical practice are lacking. Furthermore, although new Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) are beginning to be employed in NPT, their role is still unclear. The objective of the present work is to provide recommendations for the use of NPT for apathy, and to discuss the role of ICT in this domain, based on opinions gathered from experts in the field. The expert panel included 20 researchers and healthcare professionals working on brain disorders and apathy. Following a standard Delphi methodology, experts answered questions via several rounds of web-surveys, and then discussed the results in a plenary meeting. The experts suggested that NPT are useful to consider as therapy for people presenting with different neurocognitive and psychiatric diseases at all stages, with evidence of apathy across domains. The presence of a therapist and/or a caregiver is important in delivering NPT effectively, but parts of the treatment may be performed by the patient alone. NPT can be delivered both in clinical settings and at home. However, while remote treatment delivery may be cost and time-effective, it should be considered with caution, and tailored based on the patient's cognitive and physical profile and living conditions.

Keywords: Apathy; ICT; brain disorders; complementary therapies; motivation; nondrug; prescriptions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't