Adapting and Optimizing Problem Adaptation Therapy (PATH) for People With Mild-Moderate Dementia and Depression

04 Jun 2020
McCombie C, Cort E, Gould RL, Kiosses DN, Alexopoulos GS, Howard R, Lawrence VC

Objective: To adapt and optimize problem adaptation therapy for depression in dementia by grounding it in the lives of people with dementia, caregivers and clinicians.

Methods: A person-centered qualitative approach was taken to elicit the unique cognitive, psychological and social needs of people with dementia relevant to the adaptation of the intervention. A two-stage design was used: the first involved interviews and focus groups to identify priorities and concerns surrounding depression in dementia, the second trialling of the adapted intervention.

Participants: Ten people with dementia and nine caregivers participated in individual interviews, 35 healthcare practitioners and clinical academics with experience of working with dementia participated in focus groups.

Results: The findings highlight the importance of addressing key themes that typified the experience of depression among people with dementia including: a profound sense of isolation and role loss, the feeling of being both a burden and poorly understood, polarized thinking, interpersonal tensions, diverging views among carers and people with dementia about their capabilities, and changeability in cognitive ability and mood. These themes were used to inform adaptation of the intervention manual, ensuring that its content and delivery addressed the concerns of both people with depression and dementia and those who support them.

Conclusion: Implications for PATH included a focus on facilitating open communication, supporting the continuation of valued roles, and improving confidence.