Assess of Combinations of Non-Pharmacological Interventions for the Reduction of Irritability in Patients with Dementia and their Caregivers: A Cross-Over RCT

Tatiana Dimitriou*, John Papatriantafyllou, Anastasia Konsta, Dimitrios Kazis, Loukas Athanasiadis, Panagiotis Ioannidis, Efrosini Koutsouraki, Thomas Tegos, Magda Tsolaki

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Introduction: Dementia is a very common disorder that affects people over 65 years old all over the world. Apart from the cognitive decline, Behavioral and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia (BPSD) are a crucial matter in dementia, because they affect up to 90% of the patients during the course of their illness. Irritability has been found to be a common BPSD and one of the most distressing behaviors for the caregivers. The aim of the current study was to explore the efficacy of a combination of non-pharmacological interventions to treat irritability. Methods: Sixty patients with different types and stages of dementia with irritability were participated in a cross-over RCT. Three non-pharmacological interventions were used; (a) Validation Therapy (VT)/Psycho-educational program, (b) Aromatherapy/massage and (c) Music Therapy (MT). The study assessed the three non-pharmacological interventions in order to find the most effective combination of the interventions. This study did not compare pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments. The interventions lasted for five days. There was no drop-out rate. All patients were assessed at baseline using Mini Mental State of Examination (MMSE), Addenbrooke’s Cognitive Examination Revised (ACE-R), Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS), Functional Rating Scale for symptoms in dementia (FRSSD), and Neuropsychiatric Inventory (NPI) (sub questions for irritability). Only NPI used for the assessment after each intervention. The analyses used categorical variables, Wilcoxon signed-rank test, Chi-square test and z value score. Results: The most effective combination of non-pharmacological interventions was Aromatherapy/massage (p = 0.003)-VT plus Psycho-educational program (p = 0.014) plus MT (p = 0.018). The same combination was the most effective for the caregivers’ burden, too (p = 0.026). Conclusions: The above combination of non-pharmacological interventions can reduce irritability in patients with dementia and caregivers’ burden.
Original languageEnglish
Article number691
JournalBrain Sciences
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2022
Externally publishedYes

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