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Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2017 Feb;26:42-46. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2016.11.007. Epub 2016 Nov 22.

Doll therapy for dementia sufferers: A systematic review.

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Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore 117597, Singapore. Electronic address:
National University Hospital, National University Health System 119074, Singapore.
Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences Monash University, Victoria 3800, Australia.
Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore 117597, Singapore.


Dementia affects more than 47.5 million people worldwide, and the number is expected to continue to increase as the population ages. Doll therapy is an emerging nonpharmacologic management strategy for patients with advanced dementia, especially in patients with challenging behaviours. A total of 12 published studies (mainly cohort and observational studies) were identified and discussed in this systematic review. In most instances, cognitive, behavioural and emotional symptoms were alleviated and overall wellbeing was improved with doll therapy, and dementia sufferers were found to be able to better relate with their external environment. Despite the relative paucity of empirical data and ethical concerns, we are of the opinion that doll therapy is effective for dementia care, is well-aligned with the ethos of person-centred care and should be applied in the management of dementia patients. Future research should include more robust randomized controlled trials.


Behaviour; Dementia; Doll therapy; Nonpharmacologic; Wandering

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