Neuropsychiatric Symptoms in People With Korsakoff Syndrome and Other Alcohol-Related Cognitive Disorders Living in Specialized Long-Term Care Facilities: Prevalence, Severity, and Associated Caregiver Distress

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Objectives: Caring for people with Korsakoff syndrome (KS) residing in specialized long-term care facilities (LTCFs) can be distressing because of challenging neuropsychiatric symptoms (NPS). However, good-quality studies on NPS in this under-researched population are lacking. This study examined the prevalence and severity of NPS in people with KS living in specialized LTCFs and the associated caregiver distress. Design: Cross-sectional, observational study. Data were obtained using structured interviews with care staff, elderly care physicians, and residents. Setting: Nine specialized LTCFs in the Netherlands. Participants: KS residents admitted for at least 3 months. Measurements: The prevalence and severity of NPS were measured with the Neuropsychiatric Inventory-Questionnaire (NPI-Q). The associated caregiver distress was assessed with the NPI Distress Scale (NPI-D) according to the nurse or nurse assistant. Results: Almost all of the 281 residents (96.4%) showed at least 1 NPS and 45.8% showed 5 or more symptoms. Irritability/lability (68.3%), agitation/aggression (58.7%), and disinhibition (52.7%) were most prevalent. Although the mean level of severity for all NPS was relatively low, half of the residents (49.1%) had at least 1 severe NPS. Care staff experienced low levels of distress associated with NPS. Conclusion: NPS are highly prevalent in KS residents. Unexpectedly, these did not have any severe impact on residents and care staff. Acquiring more insight into the persistence and course of NPS, and its associations, among KS residents is important to better understand and reduce these symptoms and, ultimately, improve the quality of care for these residents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)240-247
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Medical Directors Association
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


  • Alcohol-related cognitive disorder
  • Korsakoff syndrome
  • Long-term care
  • Neuropsychiatric symptoms

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