Original Study| Volume 16, ISSUE 12, P1087-1094, December 01, 2015

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Reminiscence Therapy Improves Cognitive Functions and Reduces Depressive Symptoms in Elderly People With Dementia: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials

Published:September 01, 2015DOI:



      Cognitive function impairments and depressive symptoms are common in elderly people with dementia. Previous meta-analyses of outdated and small-scale studies have reported inconsistent results regarding the effects of reminiscence therapy on cognitive functions and depressive symptoms; therefore, we conducted a meta-analysis by including more recent randomized controlled trials (RCTs) with large sample sizes to investigate the immediate and long-term (6–10 months) effects of reminiscence therapy on cognitive functions and depressive symptoms in elderly people with dementia.

      Review Methods

      Electronic databases, including PubMed, Medline, CINAHL, PsycINFO, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, ProQuest, Google Scholar, and Chinese databases were searched to select eligible articles. Primary outcome measures included the scores of cognitive functions and depressive symptoms. In total, 12 RCT studies investigating the effects of reminiscence therapy on cognitive functions and depressive symptoms in elderly people with dementia were included. Two reviewers independently extracted data. All analyses were performed using a random-effects model.


      Reminiscence therapy had a small-size effect on cognitive functions (g = 0.18, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.05–0.30) and a moderate-size effect on depressive symptoms (g = −0.49, 95% CI −0.70 to −0.28) in elderly people with dementia. Long-term effects of reminiscence therapy on cognitive functions and depressive symptoms were not confirmed. Moderator analysis revealed that institutionalized elderly people with dementia exhibited greater improvement in depressive symptoms than community-dwelling people with dementia did (g = −0.59 vs. −0.16, P = .003).


      This meta-analysis confirms that reminiscence therapy is effective in improving cognitive functions and depressive symptoms in elderly people with dementia. Our findings suggest that regular reminiscence therapy should be considered for inclusion as routine care for the improvement of cognitive functions and depressive symptoms in elderly people with dementia, particularly in institutionalized residents with dementia.


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