Agitation Prevalence in People with Dementia in Australian Residential Aged Care Facilities: Findings from Machine Learning of Electronic Health Records

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Journal of Gerontological Nursing


Using a suite of artificial intelligence technologies, the current study sought to determine the prevalence of agitated behaviors in people with dementia in residential aged care facilities (RACFs) in Australia. Computerized natural language processing allowed extraction of agitation instances from the free-text nursing progress notes, a component of electronic health records in RACFs. In total, 59 observable agitated behaviors were found. No difference was found in dementia prevalence between female and male clients (44.1%), across metropolitan and regional facilities (42.1% [SD = 17.9%]), or for agitation prevalence in dementia (76.5% [SD = 18.4%]). The top 10 behaviors were resisting, wandering, speaking in excessively loud voice, pacing, restlessness, pushing, shouting, complaining, frustration, and using profane language. Four to 17 agitated behaviors coexisted in 53% of people with dementia agitation, indicating high caregiver burden in these RACFs. Improving workforce training and redesigning care models are urgent for sustainability of dementia care in RACFs.

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