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Sex differences in the prevalence of behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 February 2009

Hugo Lövheim
Affiliation:
Department of Community Medicine and Rehabilitation, Geriatric Medicine, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden
Per-Olof Sandman
Affiliation:
Department of Nursing, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden
Stig Karlsson
Affiliation:
Department of Nursing, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden
Yngve Gustafson
Affiliation:
Department of Community Medicine and Rehabilitation, Geriatric Medicine, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden
Corresponding

Abstract

Background: When a person has dementia, non-cognitive behaviors and symptoms might constitute a greater problem than the cognitive decline itself. Male or female sex might be a predisposing factor for certain types of behavior disturbances and symptoms. The aim of the present analysis was to explore the correlation between sex and the prevalence of behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia.

Method: A total of 3395 people with cognitive impairment (1056 men and 2339 women) were selected from two large cross-sectional surveys of those in geriatric care settings, conducted in 1982 and 2000 in the county of Västerbotten, Sweden. Symptoms were assessed using the Multi-Dimensional Dementia Assessment Scale (MDDAS), and prevalence was compared using multivariate logistic regression. Drug data were obtained from prescription records.

Results: For 17 out of 39 behaviors and symptoms, the prevalence differed significantly between men and women. Men more often exhibited aggressive behavior and regressive behaviors, and women more often exhibited depressive symptoms. There were no sex differences for passiveness and hallucinations. The prevalence of antipsychotic drug use was higher among men (35.5% compared to 28.9%, p < 0.001) and antidepressant drug use higher among women (30.1% compared to 25.6%, p = 0.006). The prevalence of use of anxiolytics, hypnotics and sedatives did not differ.

Conclusion: There are some differences in the prevalence of behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia between men and women. These different symptom profiles might possibly explain some of the differences found in the pharmacological treatment of men and women with a dementia disorder.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © International Psychogeriatric Association 2009

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