The prevalence and burden of behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia in rural Tanzania
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Objectives: Behavioural and psychological symptoms (BPS) in dementia are common in high-income countries, but there are few data from sub-Saharan Africa. Our aim was to estimate the prevalence and pattern of BPS and associated caregiver distress in rural Tanzania. Methods: Prevalent cases of dementia (aged 70 and over) were identified during a community-based door-to-door study in six rural villages in Tanzania. Following cognitive screening, a stratified sample (over-sampled for people with dementia) of cases underwent a detailed clinical assessment including the brief 12 item neuropsychiatric inventory (NPI-Q), which assesses BPS and associated caregiver distress over the preceding 30 days. Results: Of 78 people with dementia, at least one current BPS was reported by 69 (88.4%), with 40 (51.3%) reporting 3 or more symptoms. In 172 people with no cognitive impairment, 110 (64.0%) reported at least one symptom and 48 (27.9%) reported 3 or more. In dementia cases, the most frequent symptoms reported were anxiety (47.4%), agitation/aggression (38.5%), night-time behavioural disturbance (34.6%), irritability (33.3%) and depression (33.3%). Conclusion: The frequency of BPS in dementia in this rural Tanzanian population is high and comparable to that reported in prevalence studies from high income countries. Symptoms were also common, although to a lesser degree, amongst cognitively intact subjects. BPS are likely to have a significant impact on quality of life for elderly persons and their carers in low-income settings. Low-cost interventions, such as community-based therapy and education, are needed.
International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Psychology not elsewhere classified