Oyebode, J.R. & Parveen, S. Dementia. Published online: 4 July 2016
An influential review in 2010 concluded that non-pharmacological multi-component interventions have positive effects on cognitive functioning, activities of daily living, behaviour and mood of people with dementia. Our aim here is to provide an up-to-date overview of research into psychosocial interventions and their impact on psychosocial outcomes.
We focused on randomised controlled trials, controlled studies and reviews published between October 2008 and August 2015, since the earlier review. The search of PsychInfo, Medline and the Cochrane database of systematic reviews yielded 61 relevant articles, organised into four themes echoing key phases of the care pathway: Living at home with dementia (five reviews, eight studies), carer interventions (three reviews, four studies), interventions in residential care (16 reviews, 12 studies) and end-of-life care (three reviews, two studies), along with an additional group spanning community and institutional settings (six reviews, two studies).
Community findings suggested that appointment of dementia specialists and attention to case management can produce positive outcomes; physical therapies, cognitive training and modified cognitive behaviour therapy also had a range of benefits. There was more limited evidence of positive benefits for people with dementia through interventions with family carers. Thirty-two articles focused on the management of ‘behavioural symptoms’ through a range of interventions all of which had some evidence of benefit. Also a range of multi-component and specific interventions had benefits for cognitive, emotional and behavioural well-being of people with dementia in residential settings, as well as for quality of life. Overall, interventions tended to be short term with impact only measured in the short term.
We recommend further research on interventions to promote living well in the community post-diagnosis and to address end-of-life care. Development of psychosocial interventions would benefit from moving beyond the focus on control of behaviours to focus on wider aspects of life for people with dementia.
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