Background: Timely recognition and treatment of neuropsychiatric symptoms (NPS) in Alzheimer's disease (AD) dementia may improve quality of life, reduce caregiver burden, and delay disease progression. However, management of NPS in early AD dementia remains challenging. To date, little is known about the specific challenges for memory clinic-based physicians. The aims of this qualitative study were to obtain insights regarding the recognition and treatment of NPS in AD dementia in the memory clinic, to identify challenges experienced by physicians while managing NPS, and to examine the attitudes of memory clinic physicians on the role of the memory clinic in the care for NPS in early AD dementia. Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 13 physicians working at a memory clinic in the Netherlands (n = 7 neurologist, n = 6 geriatrician, 46% female). The data were analyzed by two independent researchers using thematic analysis. Results: We observed large variation among Dutch memory clinic physicians regarding care practices, expertise, and attitudes on the role of the memory clinic considering NPS in AD dementia. The most prominent challenges that memory clinic physicians experienced while managing NPS included that the outpatient setting complicates the recognition and treatment of NPS, a lack of experience, knowledge, and/or resources to adequately apply non-pharmacological interventions, and a lack of consensus among physicians on the role of the memory clinic in NPS recognition and management. Conclusions: We identified challenges that need to be addressed to improve the early recognition and adequate management of NPS in AD dementia at the memory clinic.
The authors would like to thank the physicians for participating in this study. This study was funded by an Alzheimer Nederland and Memorabel ZonMw Grant 733050823 (Deltaplan Dementie).
© 2022 The Authors. Psychogeriatrics published by John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd on behalf of Japanese Psychogeriatric Society.