A description of agitation in a nursing home

J. Cohen-Mansfield, M. S. Marx, A. S. Rosenthal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1114 Scopus citations


Agitation is a significant problems for elderly persons, their families, and their caregivers. This study describes the agitated behaviors of 408 nursing home residents. Nurses who were familiar with the residents used a 7-point scale to rate how often each resident manifested 29 agitated behaviors. Each resident was rated independently by three nurses, one from each of the three nursing shifts. Results showed that agitated behaviors occurred most often during the day shift (i.e., when residents were most active), and least often during the night shift. The most frequently exhibited agitated behaviors were general restlessness, pacing, repetitious sentences, requests for attention, complaining, negativism, and cursing. Most agitated behaviors correlated significantly across shifts, suggesting that such behaviors occur and reoccur throughout the 24-hour day. Factor analysis yielded three syndromes of agitation: aggressive behavior, physically nonaggressive behavior, and verbally agitated behavior. These results provide a foundation for further studies of agitation in elderly persons.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)M77-M84
JournalJournals of Gerontology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1989
Externally publishedYes


FundersFunder number
National Institute of Mental HealthR01MH040758


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