Date of Conferral

2001

Date of Award

2002

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Psychology

Advisor

Wayne V. Leaver

Abstract

This study explored the effects of instruction in a relaxation technique on patients diagnosed with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease (AD). The two-group pretest-posttest quasi-experimental design was implemented with 34 pairs of AD patients and caregivers in a group setting. It was hypothesized that treatment patients, compared with controls, would show (a) increased mental functioning, measured by their scores on the Annotated Mini-Mental State Examination (AMMSE) (Folstein, Folstein, & McHugh, 1975); and (b) decreased memory and behavior problems, measured by caregivers' scores on the memory and Behavior Problems Checklist (MBPC) (Zarit, Orr, & Zarit, 1985). Treatment subjects were instructed in a 5-week course (Benson, 1975, 1997), and controls followed normal activities. Results of t -tests and MANCOVA supported both research hypotheses. Treatment subjects showed significantly higher AMMSE gain scores on four of nine measures, and a significantly higher mean posttest score (treatment, M = 24.00; control, M = 20.59) (F = 86.62,p < .01). Treatment subjects showed significantly lower MBPC gain scores on 17 of 32 items, and a significantly lower mean posttest score (treatment, M = 33.88; control, M = 51.94) (F = 75.98, p < .01). Thus, results of this study showed that instruction in a relaxation technique can thus help mild to moderate AD sufferers to increase their mental functioning and decrease their memory and behavior problems.

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