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Observational themes of social behavioral disturbances in frontotemporal dementia

  • Joseph P. Barsuglia (a1), Frances R. Nedjat-Haiem (a1), Jill S. Shapira (a1) (a2), Christina Velasco (a2), Elvira E. Jimenez (a1) (a2), Michelle J. Mather (a1) (a2) and Mario F. Mendez (a1) (a2) (a3)...



Caregivers report early disturbances in social behavior among patients with behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD); however, there are few direct observational studies of these social behavioral disturbances. This study aimed to identify social behavioral themes in bvFTD by direct observation in naturalistic interactions. The identification of these themes can help caregivers and clinicians manage the social behavioral disturbances of this disease.


Researchers observed 13 bvFTD patients in their homes and community-based settings and recorded field notes on their interpersonal interactions. A qualitative analysis of their social behavior was then conducted using ATLAS.ti application and a constant comparison method.


Qualitative analysis revealed the following themes: (1) diminished relational interest and initiation, indicating failure to seek social interactions; (2) lack of social synchrony/intersubjectivity, indicating an inability to establish and maintain interpersonal relationships; and (3) poor awareness and adherence to social boundaries and norms. These themes corresponded with changes from caregiver reports and behavioral scales.


This analysis indicates that real-world observation validates the diagnostic criteria for bvFTD and increases understanding of social behavioral disturbances in this disorder. The results of this and future observational studies can highlight key areas for clinical assessment, caregiver education, and targeted interventions that enhance the management of social behavioral disturbances in bvFTD.


Corresponding author

Correspondence should be addressed to: Joseph P. Barsuglia, PhD, Neurobehavior Service (116AF), West Los Angeles VA Healthcare Center; 11301 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90073, USA. Phone: +(310) 478-3711; Ext.: 42393; Fax: +(310) 268-4181.


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