International Psychogeriatrics


Agitation in Nursing Home Residents: The Role of Gender and Social Context

Louis D. Burgio a1, Frieda R. Butler a2, David L. Roth a3, J. Michael Hardin a4, Chuan-Chieh Hsu a5 and Kim Ung a6
a1 School of Social Work and Department of Psychology, University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA
a2 College of Nursing and Health Science, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia, USA
a3 Department of Psychology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama, USA
a4 Department of Health Service Administration, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama, USA
a5 Civitan Center, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama, USA
a6 School of Nursing, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.

Article author query
burgio l   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
butler f   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
roth d   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
hardin j   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
hsu c   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
ung k   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


We investigated the relationship among gender of resident, staff social interaction, and agitation in 46 (31 male and 15 female) nursing home residents with clinically significant agitation. Direct observations were conducted of resident behaviors and environmental contextual events using a computer-assisted, real-time observational system. The system recored frequency, duration, and temporal sequencing of events. Results show that female residents displayed almost three times the amount of agitation as male residents (35% vs. 13% of total observation time, respectively), although men in the study were more likely to receive psychoactive drugs for their agitation. Staff spent similar amounts of time verbally interacting and touching male and female residents. Sequential analyses were conducted to examine the likelihood of staff verbal and touch interactions both preceding and following resident agitation using Bakeman and Quera's (1995) SDIS-GSEQ program. Results suggest that staff touch and verbal interaction elicit agitation in a significant proportion of residents. Once agitation occurs, staff were likely to respond by interacting verbally, but not physically, with the resident.

(Received December 3 1999)
(Accepted February 20 2000)