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Bélanger E, D'Silva J, Carroll MS, Van Houtven CH, Shepherd-Banigan M, Smith VA, Wetle TT. Reactions to Amyloid PET Scan Results and Levels of Anxious and Depressive Symptoms: CARE IDEAS Study. The Gerontologist. 2023 Jan 24; 63(1):71-81.
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Few studies have examined care partners' reactions to their loved ones receiving amyloid-ß positron emission tomography (PET) scan results, which can be indicative of Alzheimer's disease. We explored care partners' reactions qualitatively, and checked the association of scan results and diagnostic category (dementia vs mild cognitive impairment [MCI]) with care partner anxious and depressive symptoms through quantitative analysis. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: Using data from 1,761 care partners in the Caregivers' Reactions and Experience, a supplemental study of the Imaging Dementia Evidence for Amyloid Scanning study, we applied an exploratory sequential mixed-methods design and examined the reactions of 196 care partners to receiving amyloid PET scan results through open-ended interview questions. Based on the qualitative content analysis, we hypothesized there would be an association of care partners' depressive (Patient Health Questionnaire-2) and anxious (6-item State-Trait Anxiety Inventory) symptoms with scan results and diagnostic category which we then tested with logistic regression models. RESULTS: Content analysis of open-ended responses suggests that when scan results follow the care partner's expectations, for example, elevated amyloid in persons with dementia, care partners report relief and gratitude for the information, rather than distress. Adjusted logistic regression models of survey responses support this finding, with significantly higher odds of anxiety, but not depressive symptoms, among care partners of persons with MCI versus dementia and elevated amyloid. DISCUSSION AND IMPLICATIONS: Care partners of persons with MCI reported distress and had higher odds of anxiety after receiving elevated amyloid PET scan results than care partners of persons with dementia. This has the potential to inform clinical practice through recommendations for mental health screening and referrals.