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Non-drug treatment of Alzheimer's disease: Long-term benefit not proven
Date:4/15/2009

Whether people with Alzheimer's disease benefit in the long term from non-drug treatment interventions remains an unanswered question. This unsatisfactory finding is mainly due to the fact that convincing studies are lacking so far. For individual approaches, the studies provide indications of a benefit, but also of harm. This is the conclusion of a report by the German Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care, Cologne, which was published in March 2009 and for which an English-language summary is now available.

According to IQWiG, a general problem of the benefit assessment of non-drug treatment interventions is particularly shown in the therapy of Alzheimer's disease: small research budgets and an underdeveloped study methodology lead to the situation that even for procedures with potential, no reliable conclusions can be drawn and thus no proof of a benefit can be provided.

Alleviate accompanying symptoms, strengthen competence in daily activities

The needs of patients with Alzheimer's disease are complex and change with disease progression. The treatments developed so far are just as varied; in addition to drugs, non-drug interventions are also used. The latter are often designed to alleviate accompanying symptoms, such as depression, restlessness, sleep disorders, and aggressive behaviour, or to improve cognitive function and retentiveness. Other non-drug approaches attempt to strengthen patients' competence in their daily activities and support caregiving relatives (hereinafter referred to as "caregivers"); for example, together with their caregivers or professional carers, people with Alzheimer's disease can learn to develop a daily routine.

No studies available for various treatment concepts

In order to determine the long-term benefit of non-drug interventions, IQWiG and its external experts searched for studies lasting at least 4 months: 33 studies including a total of 3800 patients
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Contact: Dr. Anna-Sabine Ernst
info@iqwig.de
Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care
Source:Eurekalert

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