- Maud J L Graff, scientific researcher in allied healthcare research1,
- Myrra J M Vernooij-Dassen, senior researcher in transmural care research2,
- Marjolein Thijssen, research assistant1,
- Joost Dekker, professor in allied health care3,
- Willibrord H L Hoefnagels, professor in geriatrics4,
- Marcel G M Olde Rikkert, professor in geriatrics4
- 1Research Group for Allied Health Care, Department of Allied Health Care Disciplines, Occupational Therapy, University Medical Center Nijmegen, PO Box 9101, 6500 HB Nijmegen, Netherlands
- 2Center for Quality of Care Research/Alzheimer Center Nijmegen, University Medical Center Nijmegen, PO Box 9101, 6525 JV Nijmegen
- 3Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, EMGO Institute, VU University Medical Center Amsterdam, PO Box 7057, 1007 MB Amsterdam
- 4Department of Geriatrics/Alzheimer Center Nijmegen, 931 University Medical Center Nijmegen, PO Box 9101, 6500 HB Nijmegen
- Correspondence to: M J L Graff
- Accepted 6 October 2006
Objective To determine the effectiveness of community based occupational therapy on daily functioning of patients with dementia and the sense of competence of their care givers.
Design Single blind randomised controlled trial. Assessors were blinded for treatment allocation.
Setting Memory clinic and day clinic of a geriatrics department and participants' homes.
Participants 135 patients aged ≥65 with mild to moderate dementia living in the community and their primary care givers.
Interventions 10 sessions of occupational therapy over five weeks, including cognitive and behavioural interventions, to train patients in the use of aids to compensate for cognitive decline and care givers in coping behaviours and supervision.
Main outcome measures Patients' daily functioning assessed with the assessment of motor and process skills (AMPS) and the performance scale of the interview of deterioration in daily activities in dementia (IDDD). Care giver burden assessed with the sense of competence questionnaire (SCQ). Participants were evaluated at baseline, six weeks, and three months.
Results Scores improved significantly relative to baseline in patients and care givers in the intervention group compared with the controls (differences were 1.5 (95% confidence interval 1.3 to 1.7) for the process scale; −11.7 (−13.6 to −9.7) for the performance scale; and (11.0; 9.2 to 12.8) for the competence scale). This improvement was still significant at three months. The number needed to treat to reach a clinically relevant improvement in motor and process skills score was 1.3 (1.2 to 1.4) at six weeks. Effect sizes were 2.5, 2.3, and 1.2, respectively, at six weeks and 2.7, 2.4, and 0.8, respectively, at 12 weeks.
Conclusions Occupational therapy improved patients' daily functioning and reduced the burden on the care giver, despite the patients' limited learning ability. Effects were still present at 12 weeks, which justifies implementation of this intervention.
Trial registration Clinical Trials NCT00295152.
Details of the research protocol can be found on bmj.com
We thank all participants for their contribution and Jana Zajec and Patricia Verstraten for all occupational therapy treatments.
Contributors: MJLG was the lead investigator, developed the study design, carried out data-acquisition, analysis, interpretations, and wrote the paper. MJMV-D, JD, MGMOR, and WHLH were responsible for design, project supervision, and writing. MGMOR was also involved in data acquisition and is guarantor. MT carried out data acquisition and was involved in preparing the study design and in writing the manuscript.
Funding: Dutch Alzheimer Association with financial support of the Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Center and the Dutch Occupational Therapy Association.
Competing interests: None declared.
Ethical approval: Medical ethics committee of the UMCN of Nijmegen and Arnhem, number CWOM0012-0292.