International Psychogeriatrics


Correlates of aggressive behavior in dementia

Kathryn A. Hall a1c1 and Daniel W. O'Connor a2
a1 Psychiatrist, Aged Mental Health Research Group, Monash University, Victoria, Australia
a2 Professor of Old Age Psychiatry, Aged Mental Health Research Group, Monash University, Victoria, Australia

Article author query
hall k   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
o'connor d   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


Background and Objective: A review of current literature was undertaken in order to summarize some of the possible biopsychosocial contributions to the development of aggressive behavior in elderly people with dementia. It was intended that such a summary would provide a useful clinical aid when assessing patients with behavioral symptoms and a starting point for undertaking research in this area.

Method: Information was gathered from literature searches conducted on several occasions between 1995 and 2001 using 3 databases (Medline, CINHAL and PsycINFO), as well as journals and books available from the libraries of the authors and from Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.

Results: Associations between various conditions and the development of aggressive behavior were found, including the contributions of degrees of cognitive impairment, personality, sensory change, physical illness, language impairment, brain pathology, affective and psychotic disorders. The role of gender, sexuality and disruption of circadian rhythms is also discussed, as is the importance of environmental factors.

Conclusion: Identification of correlates of aggressive behavior may assist clinicians to understand and manage aggressive behavior more effectively.

(Received April 14 2003)
(Returned to authors for revision July 3 2003)
(Revised version returned August 6 2003)
(Accepted August 8 2003)

Key Words: Dementia; aggressive behavior; aggression; BPSD; review.

c1 Correspondence should be addressed to: Kathryn A. Hall, Aged Mental Health Research Group, Department of Psychological Medicine, Monash University, Kingston Centre, Warrigal Road, Cheltenham, Victoria 3192, Australia. Phone: +61 3 9265 1700. Fax: +61 3 9265 1711. Email: