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Intervention Review

Reminiscence therapy for dementia

  1. A Spector Trainee Clinical Psychologist*,
  2. M Orrell,
  3. S Davies,
  4. RT Woods

Editorial Group: Cochrane Dementia and Cognitive Improvement Group

Published Online: 24 JUL 2000

DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD001120

How to Cite

Spector A, Orrell M, Davies S, Woods RT. Reminiscence therapy for dementia. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2000, Issue 3. Art. No.: CD001120. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD001120.

Author Information

  1. University College London, Department of Clinical Health Psychology, London, UK

*A Spector, Trainee Clinical Psychologist, Department of Clinical Health Psychology, University College London, 1-19 Torrington Place, London, WC1E 6BT, UK. aims@aspector.freeserve.co.uk.

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 24 JUL 2000

SEARCH

This is not the most recent version of the article. View current version (20 APR 2005)

 

Abstract

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Synopsis

Background

Reminiscence Therapy (RT) has been defined as vocal or silent recall of events in a person's life, either alone, or with another person or group of people. It typically involves group meetings, at least once a week, in which participants are encouraged to talk about past events, often assisted by aids such as photos, music, objects and videos of the past.

There is, often, little consistent application of psychological therapies in dementia services. A number of these 'therapies' were greeted with enthusiasm by health care practitioners in under stimulating care environments. They were expected to work miracles and their 'failure' to do this has led to their widespread disuse. A systematic review of the available evidence is important in order to identify the effectiveness of the different therapies. Subsequently, guidelines for their use can be made on a sound evidence base.

Objectives

RT involves groups of elderly people talking of past events, assisted by aids such as videos, pictures and archives, as a means of communicating and reflecting upon their life experiences. The objective of the review is to assess the effects of RT for dementia.

Search strategy

We searched the Cochrane Controlled Trials Register, MEDLINE, PSYCHLIT, EMBASE, OMNI, BIDS, Dissertation Abstracts International, SIGLE and reference lists of relevant articles up to 1998, and we contacted specialists in the field. We also searched relevant Internet sites and we hand searched Aging and Mental Health, the Gerontologist, Journal of Gerontology, Current Opinion in Psychiatry, Current Research in Britain: Social Sciences, British Psychological Society conference proceedings and Reminiscence database.

Selection criteria

Randomized controlled trials and quasi-randomized trials of RT for dementia in elderly people.

Data collection and analysis

Two reviewers independently extracted data and assessed trial quality.

Main results

Two trials are included in the review, but only one trial with 15 participants had extractable data. The results were statistically non-significant for both cognition and behaviour.

Authors' conclusions

No firm conclusions could be reached regarding the effectiveness of RT for dementia. The review highlighted the urgent need for more systematic research in the area.

 

Synopsis

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Synopsis

Synopsis

No evidence of efficacy of reminiscence therapy for people with dementia

This review examines the effectiveness of Reminiscence Therapy (RT) for people with dementia. RT involves the vocal or silent recall of events in a person's life, either alone, or with another person or group of people. RT groups are often assisted by aids such as videos, pictures and archives, as a means of communicating and reflecting upon life experiences. After searching the literature, only one suitable randomized controlled trial looking at RT for dementia was found. Results were insignificant, due to the lack of evidence, yet other data suggests that RT can be beneficial. Hence the review highlights the urgent need for more quality research in the field, for a conclusive systematic review.