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Expert Rev Neurother. 2018 Sep;18(9):715-727. doi: 10.1080/14737175.2018.1509709. Epub 2018 Aug 28.

Reminiscence therapy for dementia: an abridged Cochrane systematic review of the evidence from randomized controlled trials.

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a Dementia Services Development Centre Wales , Bangor University , Bangor , UK.
b Research Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology , University College London , London , UK.
c Institute of Mental Health , University of Nottingham , Nottingham , UK.


Reminiscence therapy (RT) is a popular psychosocial intervention widely used in dementia care. It involves discussion of past events and experiences, using tangible prompts to evoke memories or stimulate conversation. Areas covered: The aim of this review is to evaluate the effectiveness of RT for people with dementia. It includes studies from the specialized register of the Cochrane Dementia and Cognitive Improvement Group (ALOIS). Searches yielded 185 records of which 22 (n = 1972) were eligible for inclusion. The meta-analysis comprised of data from 16 studies (n = 1749 participants). The review included four large multicenter high-quality studies and several smaller studies of reasonable quality. Outcomes of interest were quality of life, communication, depression, and cognition at posttreatment and later follow-up. Expert commentary: RT has the potential to improve psychosocial outcomes for people with dementia. Effects are small and can be inconsistent, varying across intervention modality and setting. Individual approaches were associated with improved cognition and mood. Group approaches were linked to improved communication. The impact on quality of life appeared most promising in care home settings. Diversity in reminiscence approaches makes it difficult to compare them, and the field would benefit from the development, evaluation, use, and sharing of standardized approaches.


Alzheimer’s; Reminiscence therapy; dementia; life review; non-pharmacological; psychosocial

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