We investigated the relationship among gender of resident, staff social interaction, and agitation in 46 (31 male and 15 female) nursing home residents with clinically significant agitation. Direct observations were conducted of resident behaviors and environmental contextual events using a computer-assisted, real-time observational system. The system recored frequency, duration, and temporal sequencing of events. Results show that female residents displayed almost three times the amount of agitation as male residents (35% vs. 13% of total observation time, respectively), although men in the study were more likely to receive psychoactive drugs for their agitation. Staff spent similar amounts of time verbally interacting and touching male and female residents. Sequential analyses were conducted to examine the likelihood of staff verbal and touch interactions both preceding and following resident agitation using Bakeman and Quera's (1995) SDIS-GSEQ program. Results suggest that staff touch and verbal interaction elicit agitation in a significant proportion of residents. Once agitation occurs, staff were likely to respond by interacting verbally, but not physically, with the resident.
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