Objectives: To synthesise the existing published literature on general practitioners (GP)'s knowledge, attitudes, and experiences of managing behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) with a view to informing future interventions.
Methods: We conducted a systematic review and synthesis of quantitative and qualitative studies that explored GPs' experiences of managing BPSD (PROSPERO protocol registration CRD42017054916). Seven electronic databases were searched from inception to October 2017. Each stage of the review process involved at least 2 authors working independently. The meta-ethnographic approach was used to synthesise the findings of the included studies while preserving the context of the primary data. The Confidence in the Evidence from Reviews of Qualitative research (CERQual) was used to assess the confidence in our individual review findings.
Results: Of the 1638 articles identified, 76 full texts were reviewed and 11 were included. Three main concepts specific to GPs' experiences of managing BPSD emerged: unmet primary care resource needs, justification of antipsychotic prescribing, and the pivotal role of families. A "line of argument" was drawn, which described how in the context of resource limitations a therapeutic void was created. This resulted in GPs being over reliant on antipsychotics and family caregivers. These factors appeared to culminate in a reactive response to BPSD whereby behaviours and symptoms could escalate until a crisis point was reached.
Conclusion: This systematic review offers new insights into GPs' perspectives on the management of BPSD and will help to inform the design and development of interventions to support GPs managing BPSD.