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To study potentially modifiable factors associated with the severity of agitation or aggression (A/A) symptoms among Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients.
Data from the Impact of Cholinergic Treatment Use (ICTUS) study, European longitudinal prospective observational study.
Community dwelling outpatients included in 29 European memory clinics.
1375 participants with probable AD (Mini-Mental State Examination score of 10–26) with an informal caregiver.
At baseline and twice yearly over the two-year follow-up, patients underwent comprehensive clinical and neuropsychological assessments: sociodemographic data, cognitive status, functional impairment, and assessment of neuropsychiatric symptoms based on Neuro-Psychiatric Inventory (NPI). The ZARIT scale assessed the caregiver’s burden. The variable of interest was the severity of the item of A/A of the NPI. To study factors associated to the severity of A/A symptoms six months later, a multivariate mixed regression model was used.
Frequency of A/A symptom varied from 30% to 34% at each visit. Two factors were found to be independently associated with the severity of A/A: (1) the presence of affective disorder (anxiety, depression, and/or irritability) that increased the severity of the A/A by 0.89 point (coefficient:0.89; 95% Confidence Interval (CI) = [0.48,1.30], p < 0.001), and (2) a severe caregiver burden that increased the severity of the A/A by 1.08 point (coefficient:1.08; 95% CI = [0.69,1.47], p < 0.001).
Research should evaluate whether the identification and treatment of an affective disorder along with the evaluation and optimal management of the caregiver would have a positive impact on the course of A/A in mild to moderate AD patients.
The management of disruptive neuropsychiatric symptom (NPS) such as agitation and aggression (A/A) is a major priority in caring for people with Alzheimer's disease (AD). Few effective pharmacological or non-pharmacological options are available. Results of randomized clinical trials (RCTs) of drugs for A/A have been disappointing. This may result from the absence of biological efficacy for medications tested in treating A/A. It may also be related to methodological issues such as the choice of outcomes. The aim of this review was to highlight key methodological issues pertaining to RCTs of current and emerging medications for the treatment of A/A in AD.
We searched PubMed/Medline, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and ClinicalTrials.gov for RCTs comparing medications with either placebo or other drugs in the treatment of A/A in AD, between January 2008 and December 2013.
We identified a total of 18 RCTs; of these, 11 were completed and 7 ongoing. Of the ongoing RCTs, only one is in Phase III. Seven of 10 completed RCTs with reported results did not report greater benefit from drug than placebo. Each of the completed RCTs used a different definition of “clinically significant A/A.” There was considerable heterogeneity in study design. The primary endpoints were largely proxy-based but a variety of scales were used. The definition of caregiver and scales used to assess caregiver outcomes were similarly heterogeneous. Placebo response was notable in all trials.
This review highlights a great heterogeneity in RCTs design of drugs for A/A in AD and some key methodological issues such as definition of A/A, choice of outcome measures and caregiver participation that could be addressed by an expert consensus to optimize future trials design.
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