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A network approach on the relation between apathy and depression symptoms with dementia and functional disability

  • Lennard L. van Wanrooij (a1), Denny Borsboom (a2), Eric P. Moll van Charante (a3), Edo Richard (a1) (a4) and Willem A. van Gool (a1)...

Abstract

Background:

Studies on the association between depression and dementia risk mostly use sum scores on depression questionnaires to model symptomatology severity. Since individual items may contribute differently to this association, this approach has limited validity.

Methods:

We used network analysis to investigate the functioning of individual Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS-15) items, of which, based on studies that used factor analysis, 3 are generally considered to measure apathy (GDS-3A) and 12 depression (GDS-12D). Functional disability and future dementia were also included in our analysis. Data were extracted from 3229 participants of the Prevention of Dementia by Intensive Vascular care trial (preDIVA), analyzed as a single cohort, yielding 20,542 person-years of observation. We estimated a sparse network by only including connections between variables that could not be accounted for by variance in other variables. For this, we used a repeated L1 regularized regression procedure.

Results:

This procedure resulted in a selection of 59/136 possible connections. GDS-3A items were strongly connected to each other and with varying strength to several GDS-12D items. Functional disability was connected to all three GDS-3A items and the GDS-12D items “helplessness” and “worthlessness”. Future dementia was only connected to the GDS-12D item “memory problems”, which was in turn connected to the GDS-12D items “unhappiness” and “helplessness” and all three GDS-3A items.

Conclusion:

Network analysis reveals interesting relationships between GDS items, functional disability and dementia risk. We discuss what implications our results may have for (future) research on the associations between depression and/or apathy with dementia.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

Correspondence should be addressed to: Lennard van Wanrooij, Department of Neurology, Amsterdam UMC, University of Amsterdam, Meibergdreef 9, 1105 AZ Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Email: l.l.vanwanrooij@amc.uva.nl.

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