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Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2005 Apr;20(4):301-14.

The effects of psychosocial methods on depressed, aggressive and apathetic behaviors of people with dementia: a systematic review.

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  • 1NIVEL (Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research), Utrecht, The Netherlands.



This systematic review seeks to establish the extent of scientific evidence for the effectiveness of 13 psychosocial methods for reducing depressed, aggressive or apathetic behaviors in people with dementia.


The guidelines of the Cochrane Collaboration were followed. Using a predefined protocol, ten electronic databases were searched, studies selected, relevant data extracted and the methodological quality of the studies assessed. With a Best Evidence Synthesis the results of the included studies were synthesized and conclusions about the level of evidence for the effectiveness of each psychosocial method were drawn.


There is some evidence that Multi Sensory Stimulation/Snoezelen in a Multi Sensory Room reduces apathy in people in the latter phases of dementia. Furthermore, there is scientific evidence, although limited, that Behavior Therapy-Pleasant Events and Behavior Therapy-Problem Solving reduce depression in people with probable Alzheimer's disease who are living at home with their primary caregiver. There is also limited evidence that Psychomotor Therapy Groups reduce aggression in a specific group of nursing home residents diagnosed with probable Alzheimer's disease. For the other ten psychosocial methods there are no or insufficient indications that they reduce depressive, aggressive or apathetic behaviors in people with dementia.


Although the evidence for the effectiveness of some psychosocial methods is stronger than for others, overall the evidence remains quite modest and further research needs to be carried out.

Copyright 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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