Published: 2022-01-17 15:49 | Updated: 2022-01-18 19:17

New thesis about behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD)

Hi Emilia Schwertner, PhD student at the Division of Clinical Geriatrics, NVS. On January 21 you will defend your thesis ”Factors associated with behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia”, what's the main focus of the thesis?

Emilia Schwertner, PhD-student at the Division of Clinical Geriatrics. Photo: Private

My thesis covers the subject of Behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD). BPSD refers to all non-cognitive symptoms of dementia, such as psychotic and affective symptoms, hyperactivity, and apathy. I also looked for possible causes of BPSD. More specifically, I investigated its association with unmet needs, for example social isolation, pain or sensory impairment.

Which are the most important results? 

In summary, we found that BPSD is common in individuals with dementia residing in long-term care facilities, in particular aberrant motor behavior, agitation/aggression and irritability. Additionally, we observed that individuals with dementia may have several of their needs unmet, the most common of which were pain, sleeping problems, impaired hearing and vision. Importantly, there was a relationship between the number of unmet needs and BPSD in each type of dementia. 

How can this new knowledge contribute to the improvement of people’s health? 

My results highlight the importance of environment in occurence of symptoms. Environment is a modifiable factor. This means that by proper interventions can reduce the occurence of BPSD. This will translate into lower use of psychiatric medication and better quality of life of persons with dementia and their carers.

What´s in the future for you? Will you keep on conducting research?

I would like to work clinically for some time.

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Emilia Schwertner PhD student