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Depression is an important, potentially modifiable dementia risk factor. However, it is not known whether effective treatment of depression through psychological therapies is associated with reduced dementia incidence. The aim of this study was to investigate associations between reduction in depressive symptoms following psychological therapy and the subsequent incidence of dementia.
National psychological therapy data were linked with hospital records of dementia diagnosis for 119808 people aged 65+. Participants received a course of psychological therapy treatment in Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services between 2012 and 2019. Cox proportional hazards models were run to test associations between improvement in depression following psychological therapy and incidence of dementia diagnosis up to eight years later.
Improvements in depression following treatment were associated with reduced rates of dementia diagnosis up to 8 years later (HR = 0.88, 95% CI 0.83–0.94), after adjustment for key covariates. Strongest effects were observed for vascular dementia (HR = 0.86, 95% CI 0.77–0.97) compared with Alzheimer's disease (HR = 0.91, 95% CI 0.83–1.00).
Reliable improvement in depression across psychological therapy was associated with reduced incidence of future dementia. Results are consistent with at least two possibilities. Firstly, psychological interventions to improve symptoms of depression may have the potential to contribute to dementia risk reduction efforts. Secondly, psychological therapies may be less effective in people with underlying dementia pathology or they may be more likely to drop out of therapy (reverse causality). Tackling the under-representation of older people in psychological therapies and optimizing therapy outcomes is an important goal for future research.
Caring for a friend or relative with dementia can be burdensome and stressful, and puts carers at increased risk of physical and psychological problems. A number of psychosocial interventions, some delivered by computer, have been developed to support carers. This review evaluates the outcomes of computer-mediated interventions.
PsychINFO, MEDLINE, and CINAHL Plus were searched for papers published between January 2000 and September 2012. Study quality was evaluated using a modified version of Downs and Black's (1998) checklist.
Fourteen empirical studies, evaluating a range of complex, multifaceted interventions, met inclusion criteria. The most commonly measured variables were carer burden/stress and depression. In general, higher quality studies found that interventions did have an effect on these variables. Two higher quality studies also found that anxiety was reduced following intervention. Most studies found that positive aspects of caring were increased through these interventions, as was carer self-efficacy. There were mixed results in relation to social support, and physical aspects of caring did not seem to be affected. Program impact measures indicated general acceptability of these interventions.
The findings support the provision of computer-mediated interventions for carers of people with dementia. Future studies would benefit from design improvements, such as articulating clearly defined aims, having a control group, having adequate statistical power, and measuring a greater range of factors important to carers themselves.
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