The influence of psychological, social and contextual factors on the expression and measurement of awareness in early-stage dementia: testing a biopsychosocial model

Clare, L.; Nelis, S.M.; Martyr, A.; Roberts, J.; Whitaker, C. J.; Markova, I. S.; Roth, I.; Woods, R. T. and Morris, R. G. (2012). The influence of psychological, social and contextual factors on the expression and measurement of awareness in early-stage dementia: testing a biopsychosocial model. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 27(2) pp. 167–177.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/gps.2705

Abstract

Background: Insufficient attention has been paid to the influence of psychological and social factors on discrepancy-based measures of awareness.

Objectives: The present study tested a biopsychosocial model of awareness in early-stage dementia by gathering evidence regarding the relative contributions of neuropsychological, individual psychological and social factors to the level of scoring on measures used to index awareness.

Method: Awareness was assessed in relation to memory, activities of daily living and social functioning in 101 individuals with early-stage dementia participating in the Memory Impairment and Dementia Awareness (MIDAS) Study. People with dementia (PwD) and carers also completed measures of individual psychological and social variables, and PwD completed measures of neuropsychological functioning.

Results: Scores on discrepancy-based indices of awareness and on the self-ratings and informant ratings contributing to these indices were associated with a range of factors including neuropsychological functioning of PwD, individual traits and dispositions and current affective functioning of PwD, socio-demographic characteristics of PwD and carers, carer well-being and carer perceptions of PwD and of quality of relationship with PwD. Patterns of association varied across domains of functioning.

Conclusions: The findings support the relevance of a biopsychosocial approach to understanding the factors that influence unawareness of impairment in dementia.

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