Pain medications relieve agitation in demented patients.EXPERT ANALYSIS FROM THE ANNUAL MEETING OF THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF HOSPICE AND PALLIATIVE CARE MEDICINE
DENVER - A structured approach to giving pain medications to agitated ag·i·tate
v. ag·i·tat·ed, ag·i·tat·ing, ag·i·tates
1. To cause to move with violence or sudden force.
2. nursing home residents with moderate to severe dementia - regardless of their pain scores - significantly reduced their agitation and aggression in a randomized trial.
"The assumption is that their agitation was related to pain, and because they had cognitive impairment they couldn't really express [their condition]," explained Dr. Nathan E. Goldstein of Mount Sinai School of Medicine
Mount Sinai School of Medicine is a medical school found in the borough of Manhattan in New York City. , New York.
He was one of several experts at the meeting who singled out the Norwegian nursing home study as one of the most important scientific advances in palliative care during the past year.
Agitation and other behavioral disturbances are common in patients with dementia. Antipsychotic agents are often used as first-line therapy, but they have significant side effects, particularly in patients who are often already on many other medications.
Investigators at the University of Bergen The University of Bergen (Universitetet i Bergen) is located in Bergen, Norway. Although founded as late as 1946, academic activity had taken place at Bergen Museum as far back as 1825. The university today caters for more than 16,000 students. (Norway) opted to think outside the box. They randomized 352 subjects in 60 nursing home units within 18 nursing homes to 8 weeks of pain medication delivered according to a structured protocol or to usual care. Participants had moderate to severe dementia, with a median Mini-Mental State Examination score of 7. Cluster randomization randomization (ranˈ·d·m was utilized, such that all patients in a given nursing home unit were randomized to the same study arm.
The primary study end point was agitation as measured by the Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory. This instrument requires nurses to rate each of 29 behaviors on a 1-7 scale, with 1 indicating the behavior is not present and 7 meaning the behavior occurs several times per hour. A score of 39 or more is considered clinically significant agitation.
The mean agitation score in the pain medication group dropped steadily from a baseline of 56.2 to a nadir of 46.9 at week 8, when the intervention ended. The mean score as assessed by blinded evaluators rebounded to 50.3 at week 12, after 4 weeks off the intervention. Agitation scores in the control group did not change significantly over time.
The pain treatment group also analgesia protocol i demonstrated significant decreases in overall aggression and pain scores, but no significant changes in cognition or activities of daily living. The lower a patient's pain score at the end of treatment, the lower the aggression score.
The stepwise pain treatment protocol was based upon American Geriatrics Society guidelines. Patients who were on no analgesics or only on low-dose acetaminophen acetaminophen (əsēt'əmĭn`əfĭn), an analgesic and fever-reducing medicine similar in effect to aspirin. It is an active ingredient in many over-the-counter medicines, including Tylenol and Midol. at baseline were bumped up to full-dose oral acetaminophen at a maximum of 3 g/day. Those who were on full-dose acetaminophen or low-dose morphine at baseline received short-acting oral morphine to a maximum of 20 mg/day. Patients on low-dose buprenorphine at baseline or who were unable to swallow were placed on transdermal buprenorphine at 5-10 mcg/hour. And subjects with neuropathic pain were placed on adjuvant pregabalin at a maximum daily dose of 300 mg (BMJ BMJ n abbr (= British Medical Journal) → vom BMA herausgegebene Zeitschrift 2011;343:d4065 [doi:10.1136/bmj.d4065]).
Dr. Goldstein praised the Norwegian analgesia protocol as straight-forward and easy to implement. "It could be standardized and used routinely by nursing staff based upon their assessment. This means they wouldn't have to wait for a physician order," he observed.
"All patients in the intervention arm received the pain medication regardless of their pain assessment. There would need to be quite a bit of culture change in nursing homes to actually implement a protocol like this," the geriatrician geriatrician
a specialist in geriatrics. noted.
The randomized trial was funded by the Norwegian Research Council, the University of Bergen, and Kavli's Center for Aging and Dementia. Dr. Goldstein reported having no financial conflicts.
Dr. Nathan E. Goldstein: The analgesia protocol is easy to use.