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Collaborative Care Benefits Alzheimer Disease Patients

Patients cared for by interdisciplinary team in primary care setting have fewer behavioral and psychological symptoms

TUESDAY, May 9 (HealthDay News) -- Alzheimer disease patients cared for by an interdisciplinary team within their primary care setting are more likely to receive drugs and have fewer behavioral and psychological symptoms than other patients, according to a study in the May 10 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Christopher M. Callahan, M.D., of the Indiana University Center for Aging Research in Indianapolis, and colleagues studied 153 elderly patients with Alzheimer disease and their caregivers. Of these, 84 received collaborative care management and 69 received augmented usual care at primary care practices. Collaborative care consisted of one year of care by an interdisciplinary team that was led by a primary care physician and a geriatric nurse practitioner.

Patients receiving collaborative care were significantly more likely to receive cholinesterase inhibitors and antidepressants, had significantly fewer behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia, and had significant improvements in distress. Depression in caregivers also improved, according to the study.

"Application of the current treatment guidelines for the care of older primary care patients with Alzheimer disease resulted in significant improvements in behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia and significant improvement in caregiver stress," Callahan and colleagues conclude. "The intervention demonstrates that care for patients with Alzheimer disease can be improved in the primary care setting, but not without substantial changes in the system of care."

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