Psychosocial and Environmental Treatment Approaches for Behavioral and Psychological Symptoms in Neurocognitive Disorders: an Update and Future Directions

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Abstract

Nearly all persons with dementia will exhibit behavioral and psychological symptoms (BPSD) at some point during the course of the disease. These symptoms often pose significant challenges for formal and informal caregivers, and their treatment is unclear. Current guidelines recommend implementing nonpharmacological interventions as the first-line approach to managing BPSD. Given the recent proliferation of research evaluating the use of nonpharmacological interventions for BPSD, there is a continuing need to reevaluate and synthesize the findings in this area. The current review examines the evidence for using psychosocial and environmental strategies, focusing on the past 3 years of research efforts and assessing how this research augments what is known from prior reviews. We conclude that the results in the recent literature concerning the efficacy of psychosocial and environmental treatment approaches to behavioral symptoms in dementia continue to be promising, yet results are also mixed. We recommend the consideration of music therapy and tailored activities when utilizing a nonpharmacological approach, as these appear particularly promising throughout the literature. We also find that multisensory stimulation and animal-assisted therapy warrant further evaluation. In contrast, in this and previous reviews, approaches such as bright light therapy and aromatherapy have consistently been shown to be ineffective and, thus, cannot be recommended with confidence based on the evidence. We discuss limitations of current research studies and make recommendations for future research in the area of psychosocial and environmental interventions for BPSD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)80-101
Number of pages22
JournalCurrent Treatment Options in Psychiatry
Volume4
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017

Keywords

  • Behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia
  • Environmental
  • Intervention
  • Nonpharmacological
  • Psychosocial

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology

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