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The relationship between pre-morbid personality and challenging behaviour in people with dementia: A systematic review

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>07/2010
<mark>Journal</mark>Aging and Mental Health
Issue number5
Number of pages13
Pages (from-to)503-515
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


It has been suggested that challenging behaviour in people with dementia reflects a person's pre-morbid personality traits and a number of studies have explored this hypothesis. However, inconsistencies in outcome between studies suggest a need to review the available evidence systematically. As a result, major bibliographic databases were searched for studies examining the relationship between pre-morbid personality and challenging behaviour in order to conduct a systematic review. We included all English language studies published in referenced journals that assessed pre-morbid personality via a valid comprehensive personality measure, and also explored a relationship with challenging behaviour in people with dementia. A total of 18 studies were identified that covered a wide range of challenging behaviours including ‘wandering’, affective states, aggression, anxiety and delusions/hallucinations. Studies were assessed for their methodological quality and statistical findings. Studies lacked representative samples, were affected by confounding variables and suffered from small sample sizes. However, 72% of the studies reported significant relationships between pre-morbid personality and behaviour. In terms of specific relationships, the strongest evidence was found for a positive relationship between pre-morbid neuroticism and mood, and aggression and overall behavioural acts, thus supporting the inclusion of personality as one factor in the formulation of behaviour (Ballard, C., O’Brien, J., James, I., & Swann, A. (2001). Dementia: Management of Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms. Oxford: Oxford University Press; Kitwood, T. (1993). Person and process in dementia: Editorial. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 1, 541–545).