Differential race effects of the tailored activity program (TAP) on dementia-related behaviors: A randomized controlled trial

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2022 Nov;70(11):3105-3115. doi: 10.1111/jgs.17981. Epub 2022 Aug 6.


Background: Although nonpharmacological approaches are considered first-line treatments for dementia-related behaviors, it is unclear as to their effectiveness for different racial groups. We evaluated the effects of the Tailored Activity Program (TAP) on agitated and aggressive behaviors in Black and White families.

Methods: We conducted a single-blind, two-arm randomized controlled trial involving Black (N = 90) and White (N = 145) families. TAP involved eight home sessions by occupational therapists who provided activities tailored to abilities and interests and instructed caregivers in their use over 3 months. An attention control group received eight sessions by research assistants who provided disease education and home safety tips. Measures included caregiver ratings of frequency by severity for the agitation and aggression subscales of the Neuropsychiatric Inventory-Clinician (NPI-C) at 3 months (main trial primary outcome), number of completed sessions and time spent, changes in behavioral subcomponents of the subscales (frequency, severity, caregiver distress), and percent improving/worsening.

Results: Black and White families completed similar numbers of treatment sessions, but White dyads averaged nearly two contact hours more than Black dyads (p = 0.008). At 3 months, an interaction effect (treatment by race) indicated significantly greater reductions in frequency by severity scores for the agitation and aggression subscales for Black TAP dyads versus White TAP dyads and White and Black attention control dyads. Also, significant interaction effects favoring TAP Black dyads were observed for select behavioral components. For TAP dyads with elevated baseline agitation/aggression levels (N = 71), 34.5% of Black versus 11.9% of White dyads improved; whereas 2.6% of Black versus 16.7% of White dyads had worsened agitation/aggression scores.

Conclusion: Black families compared to White families derived greater behavioral benefits from TAP for PLWD at 3 months despite having less treatment exposure. Examining differential race effects may enhance precision in using nonpharmacological approaches and promote equity in dementia care for underserved populations.

Keywords: activity engagement; behavioral and psychological symptoms; caregiving; dementia; nonpharmacological.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aggression
  • Caregivers / psychology
  • Dementia* / psychology
  • Dementia* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Occupational Therapy*
  • Single-Blind Method