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Relationship between delirium and behavioral symptoms of dementia

  • Philippe Landreville (a1) (a2), Philippe Voyer (a3) (a2) and Pierre-Hugues Carmichael (a2)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 20 December 2012

Background: Persons with dementia frequently present behavioral and psychological symptoms as well as delirium. However, the association between these has received little attention from researchers and current knowledge in this area is limited. The purpose of this study was to examine the relation between delirium and behavioral symptoms of dementia (BSD).

Methods: Participants were 155 persons with a diagnosis of dementia, 109 (70.3%) of whom were found delirious according to the Confusion Assessment Method. BSD were assessed using the Nursing Home Behavior Problem Scale.

Results: Participants with delirium presented significantly more BSD than participants without delirium. More specifically, they presented more wandering/trying to leave, sleep problems, and irrational behavior after controlling for cognitive problems and use of antipsychotics and benzodiazepines. Most relationships between participant characteristics and BSD did not differ according to the presence or absence of delirium, but some variables, notably sleep problems, were more strongly associated to BSD in persons with delirium.

Conclusions: Although correlates of BSD in persons with delirium superimposed on dementia are generally similar to those in persons with dementia alone, delirium is associated with a higher level of BSD. Results of this study have practical implications for the detection of delirium superimposed on dementia, the management of behavioral disturbances in patients with delirium, and caregiver burden.

Corresponding author
Correspondence should be addressed to: Philippe Landreville, PhD, School of psychology, Université Laval, Pavillon Félix-Antoine-Savard, 2325 rue des Bibliothèques, Québec, QC, G1V 0A6, Canada. Phone: +418-656-2131 (3024); Fax: +418-656-3646. Email:
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International Psychogeriatrics
  • ISSN: 1041-6102
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