Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Computing and Information Technology


Dementia is a clinical syndrome characterised by a progressive deterioration in cognitive function beyond the usual consequences of biological ageing. It is common among older people, and significantly affects people’s memory, behaviour, and ability to perform activities of daily living, leading to a reduced quality of life and high dependency on others for care. Due to the lack of clear pathophysiology or cure, the focus of dementia care remains on supporting people to live well with the condition. One of the main challenges in dementia care is managing behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD), which are non-cognitive symptoms or behaviours that frequently occur in people with dementia. They prevail in about 90% of people with dementia, and are causes for increased use of healthcare resources, and physical and psychological burden on people taking care of them.

Due to limited efficacy and detrimental side effects of pharmacological interventions, non-pharmacological interventions (e.g., music therapy) are increasingly used as the first-line treatment for managing BPSD in people with dementia. However, effectively applying non-pharmacological interventions is a complex and knowledge-intensive task. It requires health care professionals to have an in-depth knowledge of various non-pharmacological interventions and a thorough understanding of the life history, health conditions, and preferences of the person with BPSD. To date, the relevant information is often buried in an obscuring mass of heterogeneous and unstructured clinical records and academic literature, which is time-consuming to search and process manually. Health care professionals need assistive tools (e.g., knowledge management tools) to obtain all relevant information and form a holistic understanding before they can successfully apply non-pharmacological interventions on BPSD. A machine-understandable knowledge model – an ontology – can explicitly define a set of relevant concepts and their inter-relationships to represent a real-world phenomenon within a domain. It provides a new mechanism for building knowledge management tools to support health care professionals to learn and use health and medical knowledge. This study is the first attempt to apply computational ontology and knowledge graph technology to represent knowledge in the field of BPSD management for people with dementia. This doctorate documents the development of an ontology, named Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia Non-Pharmacological Treatment Ontology (BPSDNPTO).



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.