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The implementation of the serial trial intervention for pain and challenging behaviour in advanced dementia patients (STA OP!): a clustered randomized controlled trial


Pieper, Marjoleine J. C., Achterberg, Wilco P., Francke, Anneke L., van der Steen, Jenny T., Scherder, Erik J.A., Kovach, Christine R.


BMC Geriatrics, Volume: 11, Pages.: 12-12

Year of Publication



Background: Pain (physical discomfort) and challenging behaviour are highly prevalent in nursing home residents with dementia: at any given time 45-80% of nursing home residents are in pain and up to 80% have challenging behaviour. In the USA Christine Kovach developed the serial trial intervention (STI) and established that this protocol leads to less discomfort and fewer behavioural symptoms in moderate to severe dementia patients. The present study will provide insight into the effects of implementation of the Dutch version of the STI-protocol (STA OP!) in comparison with a control intervention, not only on behavioural symptoms, but also on pain, depression, and quality of life. This article outlines the study protocol.; Methods/design: The study is a cluster randomized controlled trial in 168 older people (aged >65 years) with mild or moderate dementia living in nursing homes. The clusters, Dutch nursing homes, are randomly assigned to either the intervention condition (training and implementation of the STA OP!-protocol) or the control condition (general training focusing on challenging behaviour and pain, but without the step-wise approach). Measurements take place at baseline, after 3 months (end of the STA OP! training period) and after 6 months.Primary outcome measures are symptoms of challenging behaviour (measured with the Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory (CMAI) and the Neuropsychiatric Inventory-Nursing Home version (NPI-NH)), and pain (measure with the Dutch version of the Pain Assessment Checklist for Seniors (PACSLAC-D) and the Minimum Data Set of the Resident Assessment Instrument (MDS-RAI) pain scale). Secondary outcome measures include symptoms of depression (Cornell and MDS-RAI depression scale), Quality of Live (Qualidem), changes in prescriptions of analgesics and psychotropic drugs, and the use of non-pharmacological comfort interventions (e.g. snoezelen, reminiscence therapy).; Discussion: The transfer from the American design to the Dutch design involved several changes due to the different organisation of healthcare systems. Specific strengths and limitations of the study are discussed.; Trial Registration: Netherlands Trial Register (NTR): NTR1967.;

Bibtex Citation

@article{Pieper_2011, doi = {10.1186/1471-2318-11-12}, url = {}, year = 2011, month = {mar}, publisher = {Springer Nature}, volume = {11}, number = {1}, author = {Marjoleine JC Pieper and Wilco P Achterberg and Anneke L Francke and Jenny T van der Steen and Erik JA Scherder and Christine R Kovach}, title = {The implementation of the serial trial intervention for pain and challenging behaviour in advanced dementia patients ({STA} {OP}!): a clustered randomized controlled trial}, journal = {{BMC} Geriatr} }


aged, aged, 80 and over, cluster analysis, complications, dementia, humans, management, mental disorders, methods, nursing homes, pain, pain management, pain measurement, psychology, therapy, trends

Countries of Study


Types of Dementia

Dementia (general / unspecified)

Types of Study

Cluster RCT

Type of Outcomes

Behaviour, Depression and Anxiety, Other, Quality of Life of Person With Dementia, Service use or cost reductions (incl. hospital use reduction, care home admission delay)


Nursing Homes

Type of Interventions