Neuropsychiatric symptom profiles of community-dwelling persons living with dementia: Factor structures revisited

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Objectives: Most persons living with dementia (PLWD) will develop neuropsychiatric symptoms (NPS) at some point. NPS are often clustered into subsyndromes with other related symptoms, but the evidence supporting commonly used clusters is insufficient. We reexamine behavioral clusters in community-dwelling PLWD and identify associated risk factors and potential contributors. Methods: This study used baseline data from a longitudinal behavioral intervention study of 250 community-dwelling older adults with dementia and their caregivers. Using exploratory factor analysis (principal component analysis [PCA]), the factor structure of NPS frequency scores of the Neuropsychiatric Inventory (NPI-C) was evaluated. Multiple linear regressions assessed the association of the derived behavioral clusters with caregiver burden, caregiver depression, and quality of life of the PLWD. Results: PCA yielded eight behavioral clusters (factors): 1 = Aggression/Rejection of Care, 2 = Apathy/Withdrawal, 3 = Restlessness/Agitation, 4 = Anxiety, 5 = Impulsivity/Disinhibition, 6 = Psychosis, 7 = Circadian Disturbance, and 8 = Depression. In multiple linear regressions, caregiver burden was significantly influenced by the anxiety cluster, caregiver depression was significantly influenced by the apathy/withdrawal cluster, and quality of life of the PLWD was significantly associated with the anxiety and circadian disturbance clusters. Conclusions: Our eight derived behavioral clusters suggest that commonly accepted clusters of NPS may not reflect the clinical reality for community-dwelling PLWD. Behavioral clusters appear to differentially impact and put caregivers and PLWD at risk such that personalized intervention strategies are warranted. J Am Geriatr Soc 68:-, 2020.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1009-1020
Number of pages12
JournalInternational journal of geriatric psychiatry
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020


  • behaviors
  • caregiver
  • cluster
  • dementia
  • neuropsychiatric symptoms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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