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Research Article  |   July 2003
Environmental Effects on the Assessment of People With Dementia: A Pilot Study
Author Affiliations
  • Steve Hoppes, PhD, OTR, is Assistant Professor, Rehabilitation Sciences, The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, 4502 East 41st Street, Tulsa, Oklahoma 74135; steve-hoppes@ouhsc.edu
  • Lori A. Davis, EdD, CCC-SLP, is Assistant Professor, Department of Communication Disorders, University of Tulsa, Tulsa, Oklahoma
  • David Thompson, MS, PT, is Graduate Research Assistant, Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Article Information
Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia / Neurologic Conditions / Assessment: Function and the Environment
Research Article   |   July 2003
Environmental Effects on the Assessment of People With Dementia: A Pilot Study
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July/August 2003, Vol. 57, 396-402. doi:10.5014/ajot.57.4.396
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July/August 2003, Vol. 57, 396-402. doi:10.5014/ajot.57.4.396
Abstract

OBJECTIVE. The purpose of this pilot study was to use a standardized assessment of independent living skills to explore the effects of environment on functional performance of individuals with dementia.

METHODS. Twelve participants (6 males, 6 females), diagnosed with dementia, were given the Structured Assessment of Independent Living Skills (SAILS), a standardized assessment of functional motor, cognitive, instrumental, and social performance. Participants were assessed in their homes, in an adult day-services facility they regularly attended, and in an occupational therapy clinic.

RESULTS. Data were analyzed using repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA). There was no evidence of a learning effect from repeated assessments. Participants’ performances did not differ among the home, clinic, and adult day-services settings on the total SAILS score (F = 1.22; df = 2,20; p = 0.3176), nor on three of its subscales: cognitive score (F = 0.80; df = 2,20; p = 0.4648), instrumental activities (F = 1.37; df = 2,20; p = 0.2777), and social interaction (F = 0.34; df = 2,20; p = 0.7147). However, participants’ performance on the SAILS motor score was significantly higher in the home than in the clinic (t = 2.925, df = 11, p = 0.0138).

CONCLUSION. Participants’ motor performance was significantly better at home than in an unfamiliar environment. Effects of environment on motor performance, and absence of effects on cognitive, instrumental, and social performances, can be explained through ecological theory. These results suggest that the ability to adapt movement to an unfamiliar environment may decline with the onset and progression of dementia.