Background: Aggressive behavior (AB) is common in institutional settings. It is an important issue because of its consequences on both the person manifesting such behaviors and their caregivers. Although there are numerous studies assessing non-pharmacologic strategies to manage AB in older adults, no extensive review of the literature is available. This review synthesizes the current knowledge on the effectiveness of non-pharmacological interventions in institutional settings.
Method: Papers describing the assessment of a non-pharmacological intervention to manage AB in which participants were at least 60 years old and living in a long-term care facility were selected mainly by searching various databases.
Results: A total of 41 studies were identified and included in the review. These studies mainly use quasi-experimental designs and include less than 30 participants. Sixty-six percent (27/41) of the studies report either a statistically or behaviorally significant reduction of AB as a result of a non-pharmacological intervention. Staff training programs and environmental modifications appear to be the most effective strategies.
Conclusion: Non-pharmacological interventions seem effective for managing AB. Future studies on the effectiveness of these interventions need to be more rigorous. Development in this field needs to be based on knowledge regarding the determinants of AB in older adults.