A real-world assessment of healthcare costs associated with agitation in Alzheimer’s dementia

Journal of Medical Economics, 2024


To describe and compare clinical characteristics, healthcare costs, and institutionalization/mortality outcomes among patients with and without agitation associated with Alzheimer's dementia (AAD).


Data from the Reliant Medical Group database (01/01/2016-03/31/2020) were used, including claims, electronic medical records, and clinical information/physician notes abstracted from medical charts. Patients aged ≥55 years with Alzheimer's dementia (AD) were observed during a randomly selected 12-month study period after AD diagnosis. Using information recorded in medical charts, patients were classified into cohorts based on experiencing (agitation cohort) and not experiencing (no agitation cohort) agitated behaviours during the study period. Entropy balancing was used to create reweighted cohorts with similar characteristics. Study outcomes (patient demographic and clinical characteristics, treatments received, healthcare costs, institutionalization and death events) were compared between cohorts; agitation characteristics were described for the agitation cohort only.


Among 711 patients included in the study, 240 were classified in the agitation cohort and 471 in the no agitation cohort. After reweighting, several comorbidities were more frequently observed in the agitation versus no agitation cohort, including infection, depression, and altered mental status. Use of antidepressants, anticonvulsants, antipsychotics, and antianxiety medications was more common in the agitation versus no agitation cohort. Common agitated behaviours included hitting (20.8%), pacing/aimless wandering (17.5%), and cursing/verbal aggression (15.0%). Total all-cause healthcare costs were $4287 per-patient-per-year higher in the agitation cohort versus no agitation cohort (p = 0.04), driven by higher inpatient costs. Death was more common and time to death and institutionalization were shorter in the agitation versus no agitation cohort.


Results may not be generalizable to the US population with AD.


Among patients with AD, agitation was associated with shorter time to death/institutionalization and increased comorbidities, medication use, and healthcare costs, highlighting the additional clinical and economic burden that agitation poses to patients and the healthcare system.

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Grossberg G, Urganus A, Schein J, Bungay R, Cloutier M, Gauthier-Loiselle M, Chan D, Guerin A, Aggarwal J