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Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2007 Jun;22(6):580-9.

Dementia care mapping as a research tool.

Author information

Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC, USA.



Dementia Care Mapping (DCM) was originally developed as a clinical tool but has attracted interest as a potential observational measure of quality of life (QOL) and well-being of long-term care residents with dementia. DCM coding involves continuous observation over a 6-h period, with observers recording a Behavior Category Code (BCC, a recording of activity/interaction) and a Well/Ill Being (WIB) score at 5 min intervals.


Descriptive data from several different research teams on the distribution and psychometric properties of DCM data were compiled and summarized.


Issues and problems identified include: complex scoring algorithms, inter-rater reliability of the BCCs, limited variability of WIB values, associations between resident characteristics and DCM assessments, rater time burden, and comparability of results across study settings.


Despite the identified limitations, DCM has promise as a research measure, as it may come closer to rating QOL from the perspective of persons with dementia than other available measures. Its utility will depend on the manner in which it is applied and an appreciation of the measure's strength and limitations. Possible changes that might improve the reliability, validity, and practicality of DCM as a research tool include coding the predominant event (rather than the 'best' event), shortening the observation period, and adding '0' as a neutral WIB coding option.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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