University of Leicester
U149694.pdf (2.8 MB)

An investigation of the relationship between anxiety and agitation in dementia

Download (2.8 MB)
posted on 2014-12-15, 10:46 authored by Helen. Twelftree
Separate lines of research into well-being in dementia have identified anxiety and agitation as indicators of ill-being. Both are common disorders of older adults with dementia and their consequences can be severe, including increased mortality rates and institutionalisation. Anxiety in this population has been under-researched and there are difficulties with its measurement. Despite the importance of anxiety and agitation in dementia care there is confusion between these concepts in the literature. Some studies have assumed that agitation is the same as anxiety in dementia, while others have attempted to differentiate between them.;The primary aim of this study was to investigate whether there was an association between anxiety and agitation in older adults with mild to moderate dementia. A secondary aim was to compare a recently developed anxiety measure for older adults with dementia with one validated for use with older adults without dementia.;A cross-sectional correlation design was used. Forty older adults with dementia who were using mental health services participated in the study. Agitation, anxiety, depression and level of cognitive impairment were assessed.;Significant positive correlations were found between agitation and anxiety, and between the two anxiety measures. Previous findings were replicated with a correlation found between anxiety and depression. Differences were found in the reporting of behaviours by professional and family informants.;The main finding of this study was that anxiety is associated with agitation and could be one of its causes in individuals who have dementia. The moderate correlation found suggests that anxiety and agitation cannot be treated as the same in this population and that other factors associated with agitation should also be considered in clinical practice. The study supported the use of the new measure of anxiety. These findings require extending to clients with more severe cognitive impairment.


Date of award


Author affiliation

Clinical Psychology

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • DClinPsy



Usage metrics

    University of Leicester Theses


    No categories selected



    Ref. manager