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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.
To examine the costs and cost-effectiveness of mirtazapine compared to placebo over 12-week follow-up.
Economic evaluation in a double-blind randomized controlled trial of mirtazapine vs. placebo.
Community settings and care homes in 26 UK centers.
People with probable or possible Alzheimer’s disease and agitation.
Primary outcome included incremental cost of participants’ health and social care per 6-point difference in CMAI score at 12 weeks. Secondary cost-utility analyses examined participants’ and unpaid carers’ gain in quality-adjusted life years (derived from EQ-5D-5L, DEMQOL-Proxy-U, and DEMQOL-U) from the health and social care and societal perspectives.
One hundred and two participants were allocated to each group; 81 mirtazapine and 90 placebo participants completed a 12-week assessment (87 and 95, respectively, completed a 6-week assessment). Mirtazapine and placebo groups did not differ on mean CMAI scores or health and social care costs over the study period, before or after adjustment for center and living arrangement (independent living/care home). On the primary outcome, neither mirtazapine nor placebo could be considered a cost-effective strategy with a high level of confidence. Groups did not differ in terms of participant self- or proxy-rated or carer self-rated quality of life scores, health and social care or societal costs, before or after adjustment.
On cost-effectiveness grounds, the use of mirtazapine cannot be recommended for agitated behaviors in people living with dementia. Effective and cost-effective medications for agitation in dementia remain to be identified in cases where non-pharmacological strategies for managing agitation have been unsuccessful.
Depression is a common and costly comorbidity in dementia. There are very few data on the cost-effectiveness of antidepressants for depression in dementia and their effects on carer outcomes.
To evaluate the cost-effectiveness of sertraline and mirtazapine compared with placebo for depression in dementia.
A pragmatic, multicentre, randomised placebo-controlled trial with a parallel cost-effectiveness analysis (trial registration: ISRCTN88882979 and EudraCT 2006-000105-38). The primary cost-effectiveness analysis compared differences in treatment costs for patients receiving sertraline, mirtazapine or placebo with differences in effectiveness measured by the primary outcome, total Cornell Scale for Depression in Dementia (CSDD) score, over two time periods: 0–13 weeks and 0–39 weeks. The secondary evaluation was a cost-utility analysis using quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) computed from the Euro-Qual (EQ-5D) and societal weights over those same periods.
There were 339 participants randomised and 326 with costs data (111 placebo, 107 sertraline, 108 mirtazapine). For the primary outcome, decrease in depression, mirtazapine and sertraline were not cost-effective compared with placebo. However, examining secondary outcomes, the time spent by unpaid carers caring for participants in the mirtazapine group was almost half that for patients receiving placebo (6.74 v. 12.27 hours per week) or sertraline (6.74 v. 12.32 hours per week). Informal care costs over 39 weeks were £1510 and £1522 less for the mirtazapine group compared with placebo and sertraline respectively.
In terms of reducing depression, mirtazapine and sertraline were not cost-effective for treating depression in dementia. However, mirtazapine does appear likely to have been cost-effective if costing includes the impact on unpaid carers and with quality of life included in the outcome. Unpaid (family) carer costs were lower with mirtazapine than sertraline or placebo. This may have been mediated via the putative ability of mirtazapine to ameliorate sleep disturbances and anxiety. Given the priority and the potential value of supporting family carers of people with dementia, further research is warranted to investigate the potential of mirtazapine to help with behavioural and psychological symptoms in dementia and in supporting carers.
Two surveys of caregivers of people with dementia were conducted in the U.K. and Poland. Among 64 U.K. carers, cognition, early diagnosis and general practitioner support were of particular concern to those caring for people with early dementia, while former carers were more concerned with pain, comfort and palliative issues. There was very strong support for better workforce training. In Poland, restoration of health and more time off from caring were the most desired outcomes.
Background: Most people living in 24-hour care settings have dementia, and little is known about what makes long-term care a positive experience for them.
Method: This carer-led qualitative study examined working practices in 24-hour long-term care-settings, including hospitals, nursing and residential homes, with the aim of finding out and making recommendations about such settings. Using semi-structured interviews, managers, nurses and care assistants were asked about work practices, such as how they coped with difficult behavior, about shifts, staffing levels, staff retention and training. Relatives of residents with dementia were asked about their role and perceptions of the care provided, and residents were asked for their opinions of their care.
Results: Staff reported that residents presented with increasingly challenging behavior compared to the past, and that sometimes staffing levels and skills were inadequate. Of all the settings, hospitals had the most problems with staffing levels and retention, staff-relative relationships and staff support systems. Relatives saw their own role as positive. People with dementia of varying severity could usefully evaluate some of the services they received.
Discussion: Dementia-specific training and education of staff in all long-term care-settings, including induction, should address the management of problem behavior in dementia and thereby improve staff fulfilment and relatives' satisfaction. The long-stay hospital may not be appropriate as a “home for life” for those with dementia, and we recommend that long-stay care settings should be able to cater flexibly for a range of resident needs.
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