• Vol. 36 No. 4, 253–258
  • 15 April 2007

Risk Factors of Distress in Alzheimer’s Patients

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ABSTRACT

Introduction: Distress of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) contribute significantly to decreased quality of life, increased morbidity, higher levels of caregiver distress, and the decision to institutionalise a patient. However, the risk factors of distress in AD patients have not been thoroughly discussed. The aim of this study was to identify the risk factors of distress in AD patients. Materials and Methods: A large randomised controlled clinical trial on AD was analysed in this study. Both linear regression and decision tree models were used to identify the factors of distress in AD patients. Results: The following variables were recognised as risk factors for AD patient’s distress: Care recipients often visit physicians or have medical examinations; Care recipients take medicines that affect the central nervous system or stomach; Care recipients seldom visit nurses; Caregivers have chronic disease or cancer; Caregiver experience distress, feel lonely, or have an unsatisfactory relationship with patients. In addition, caregiver’s smoking and drinking were found to correlate negatively with AD patient’s distress. Conclusions: Multiple factors influence the distress of Alzheimer’s patients, including patient’s examination and medication, patient-caregiver relationships, caregiver’s psychological and physical status, and the use of nursing services. These factors should be targeted when designing prevention and intervention strategies.


Neuropsychiatric disturbances are a major feature of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other dementia. Behavioural abnormalities may contribute significantly to decreased quality of life, increased morbidity, higher levels of caregiver distress, and the decision to institutionalise a patient.1-3 In the few studies devoted to this topic, distress is identified as an important behavioural symptom in AD and other forms of dementia, and it may be an accelerator of the disease.4 Knowledge of its risk factors would be very beneficial in the prevention and early intervention of distress (anxiety or depression) in AD patients.

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