BACKGROUND Psychotic symptoms in dementia have been considered as a single category which may have masked important associations. An exploratory analysis was undertaken to look separately at delusions, visual hallucinations and delusional misidentification.
METHOD Psychotic symptoms were assessed with the Burns' Symptom Checklist in 124 patients with DSM-III-R dementia.
RESULTS Eighty-three (66.9%) patients had psychotic symptoms. Deafness and life events were associated with delusions and visual impairment was associated with visual hallucinations, while senile dementia of Lewy body type and older age were associated with both.
CONCLUSIONS Differences are evident in the associations of delusions and visual hallucinations. Sensory impairments were associated with both symptoms.