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The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
PB is the primary investigator of this study, she designed the study and wrote the manuscript. The collected data will be processed and analyzed by PB. RW and RK participated in the design of the study, reviewed this study protocol and will help in the analysis of the data. PL and AP participated in the design of the study and reviewed this study protocol. All authors have given final approval of the version to be published.
Neuropsychiatric symptoms (NPS) frequently occur in patients with dementia. To date, prospective studies on the course of NPS have been conducted in patients with dementia in clinical centers or psychiatric services. The primary goal of this study is to investigate the course of NPS in patients with dementia and caregiver distress in primary care. We also aim to detect determinants of both the course of NPS in patients with dementia and informal caregiver distress in primary care.
This is a prospective observational study on the course of NPS in patients with dementia in primary care. Thirty-seven general practitioners (GPs) in 18 general practices were selected based on their interest in participating in this study. We will retrieve electronic medical files of patients with dementia from these general practices. Patients and caregivers will be followed for 18 months during the period January 2012 to December 2013. Patient characteristics will be collected at baseline. Time to death or institutionalization will be measured. Co-morbidity will be assessed using the Charlson index. Psychotropic drug use and primary and secondary outcome measures will be measured at 3 assessments, baseline, 9 and 18 months. The primary outcome measures are the Neuropsychiatric Inventory score for patients with dementia and the Sense of Competence score for informal caregivers. In addition to descriptive analyses frequency parameters will be computed. Univariate analysis will be performed to identify determinants of the course of NPS and informal caregiver distress. All determinants will then be tested in a multivariate regression analysis to determine their unique contribution to the course of NPS and caregiver distress.
The results of this study will provide data on the course of NPS, which is clinically important for prognosis. The data will help GPs and other professionals in planning follow-up visits and in the timing for offering psycho-education, psychosocial interventions and the provision of care. In addition, these data will enlarge health professionals’ awareness of NPS in their patients with dementia.