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1.  Prevalence of Behavioral Symptoms: Comparison of the Minimum Data Set Assessments with Research Instruments 
Objective
To examine the total and domain-specific prevalence of verbally and physically abusive, socially inappropriate, and care-resistive behaviors according to the Minimum Data Set (MDS) compared with research instruments in nursing home residents with severe dementia.
Design, Setting, and Methods
As part of a longitudinal observational study, MDS behavioral symptoms data were compared with corresponding items from the Ryden Aggression Scale and the Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory for 15 nursing home residents with severe dementia. McNemar’s test was used to compare the difference in the proportion of subjects who experienced any symptoms, as well as specific symptoms in several domains, according to the MDS and the research instruments. Additionally, temporal fluctuations in behavioral symptoms were descriptively and graphically summarized.
Results
The MDS significantly underestimated both the total proportion of subjects experiencing any behavioral symptoms (P = .016), as well as the proportion of subjects experiencing verbally abusive symptoms (P < .002), physically abusive symptoms (P = .008), or socially inappropriate behaviors (P = .016) compared with corresponding items from the research instruments. Moreover, these behaviors exhibited considerable temporal instability, suggesting that the systematic daily collection of measures of behavioral disturbances is imperative during the week in which the MDS assessment is to be completed.
Discussion
Albeit from a small study sample, our findings call into question the validity of the MDS behavioral symptom items as they are currently recorded, and suggest that a simple intervention of twice daily completion of a behavioral symptoms checklist containing the MDS items during the week of the assessment may significantly improve the accuracy of the recorded data.
doi:10.1016/j.jamda.2007.08.005
PMCID: PMC3392681  PMID: 18457799
Nursing home aggression; MDS validity; behavioral outcome measurement
2.  Intelligent Assistive Technology Applications to Dementia Care: Current Capabilities, Limitations, and Future Challenges 
The number of older Americans afflicted by Alzheimer disease and related dementias will triple to 13 million persons by 2050, thus greatly increasing healthcare needs. An approach to this emerging crisis is the development and deployment of intelligent assistive technologies that compensate for the specific physical and cognitive deficits of older adults with dementia, and thereby also reduce caregiver burden. The authors conducted an extensive search of the computer science, engineering, and medical databases to review intelligent cognitive devices, physiologic and environmental sensors, and advanced integrated sensor networks that may find future applications in dementia care. Review of the extant literature reveals an overwhelming focus on the physical disability of younger persons with typically nonprogressive anoxic and traumatic brain injuries, with few clinical studies specifically involving persons with dementia. A discussion of the specific capabilities, strengths, and limitations of each technology is followed by an overview of research methodological challenges that must be addressed to achieve measurable progress to meet the healthcare needs of an aging America.
doi:10.1097/JGP.0b013e318187dde5
PMCID: PMC2768007  PMID: 18849532
Assistive technology; biosensors; artificial intelligence
3.  Resident-to-Resident Aggression in Long-Term Care Facilities: Insights from Focus Groups of Nursing Home Residents and Staff 
OBJECTIVES
To more fully characterize the spectrum of RRA.
DESIGN
A focus group study of nursing home staff members and residents who could reliably self-report.
SETTING
A large urban, not-for-profit long-term care facility in New York City
PARTICIPANTS
7 residents and 96 staff members from multiple clinical and non-clinical occupational groups.
MEASUREMENTS
16 focus groups were conducted. Content was analyzed with nVivo 7 software for qualitative data.
RESULTS
35 different types of physical, verbal and sexual RRA were described, with screaming and/or yelling being the most common. Calling out and making noise were the most frequent of 29 antecedents identified as instigating episodes of RRA. RRA was most frequent in dining and residents’ rooms, and in the afternoon, though it occurred regularly throughout the facility at all times. While no proven strategies exist to manage RRA, staff described 25 self-initiated techniques to address the issue.
CONCLUSION
RRA is a ubiquitous phenomenon in nursing home settings with important consequences for affected individuals and facilities. Further epidemiologic research is necessary to more fully describe the phenomenon and identify risk factors and preventative strategies.
doi:10.1111/j.1532-5415.2008.01808.x
PMCID: PMC2755096  PMID: 18637979
nursing home; dementia-related behaviors; focus groups
4.  Motivations for Physician-assisted Suicide 
OBJECTIVE
To obtain detailed narrative accounts of patients' motivations for pursuing physician-assisted suicide (PAS).
DESIGN
Longitudinal case studies.
PARTICIPANTS
Sixty individuals discussed 35 cases. Participants were recruited through advocacy organizations that counsel individuals interested in PAS, as well as hospices and grief counselors.
SETTING
Participants' homes.
MEASUREMENTS AND RESULTS
We conducted a content analysis of 159 semistructured interviews with patients and their family members, and family members of deceased patients, to characterize the issues associated with pursuit of PAS. Most patients deliberated about PAS over considerable lengths of time with repeated assessments of the benefits and burdens of their current experience. Most patients were motivated to engage in PAS due to illness-related experiences (e.g., fatigue, functional losses), a loss of their sense of self, and fears about the future. None of the patients were acutely depressed when planning PAS.
CONCLUSIONS
Patients in this study engaged in PAS after a deliberative and thoughtful process. These motivating issues point to the importance of a broad approach in responding to a patient's request for PAS. The factors that motivate PAS can serve as an outline of issues to explore with patients about the far-reaching effects of illness, including the quality of the dying experience. The factors also identify challenges for quality palliative care: assessing patients holistically, conducting repeated assessments of patients' concerns over time, and tailoring care accordingly.
doi:10.1111/j.1525-1497.2005.40225.x
PMCID: PMC1490083  PMID: 15836526
physician-assisted suicide; euthanasia; decision making; end-of-life issues; qualitative research

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