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Alzheimer Dis Assoc Disord. 2011 Jul-Sep;25(3):213-9. doi: 10.1097/WAD.0b013e3182087dbc.

The efficacy of nonpharmacological treatment for dementia-related apathy.

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Clínica La Milagrosa, Madrid, Spain.



To determine the usefulness of a formal, structured, nonpharmacological treatment for apathetic dementia patients.


A controlled, cross-over, randomized, simple-blind, multicentre clinical trial. A total of 146 institutionalized or day care dementia patients with a stage 1 or 2 Clinical Dementia Rating, with no significant motor or sensory problems, or with rapidly evolving dementia and in a clinically stable state were recruited. A cognitive mini examination, and functional, depression, and potential toxicity scales, Neuropsychiatric Inventory Questionnaire (NPI-Q), and Dementia Apathy Interview and Rating (DAIR) scales were applied at baseline. Patients were randomized to initial intervention (music and art therapy and psychomotor activity) or initial control (free activities in the day room) and changed over at 4 weeks. NPI-Q and DAIR scales were administered at the end of weeks 4 and 8.


A significant difference between intervention and control periods, as measured using the DAIR scale, was observed, with a difference of 0.21 (95% confidence interval: 0.07-0.34, P<0.005). The difference was very important in the patients with moderated apathy. However, differences were not so important in the patients with severe apathy and there were no differences at all in the non-apathetic patients. No significant differences were found with the NPI-Q scale, although there was a clear improvement trend in the "apathy" question on this scale. This effect seems to extend beyond the therapeutic intervention period.


A structured, nonpharmacological, short-term occupational therapy intervention is more useful than activities of the patients' own choice for improving apathy in patients with mild or moderate dementia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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