A randomized controlled trial of a specific reminiscence approach to promote the well-being of nursing home residents with dementia

Int Psychogeriatr. 2004 Mar;16(1):33-49. doi: 10.1017/s1041610204000055.


Background: To date, no firm conclusions can be reached regarding the effectiveness of reminiscence for dementia. Researchers have emphasized that there is an urgent need for more systematic research in the area.

Objective and method: A single-blinded, parallel-groups (one intervention, one comparison, and one no-intervention group) randomized controlled trial (RCT) was adopted to investigate whether a specific reminiscence program leads to higher levels of psychosocial well-being in nursing home residents with dementia. The intervention adopted a life-story approach, while the comparison group provided friendly discussions to control for any changes in outcome as a result of social contacts and attention. The Social Engagement Scale (SES) and Well-being/Ill-being Scale (WIB) were the outcome measures used. The outcomes of the groups were examined with reference to the baseline (T0), immediately (T1), and six weeks (T2) after intervention. The final sample had 101 subjects (control group: n=30; comparison group: n=35; intervention group: n = 36). Using multivariate analysis with repeated measures, no significant differences in outcome were found between groups at either T1 or T2. Wilcoxon signed rank tests were performed for each group comparing outcomes between T1 and T0, T2 and T1, and T2 and T0. Significant differences were observed in the intervention group when comparing T1 and T0 WIB (p = .014), but not for the other groups.

Conclusion: Although the intervention did not lead to significant differences between the three groups over time, there was a significant improvement in psychosocial well-being for the intervention group.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Dementia / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Mental Recall*
  • Nursing Homes*
  • Single-Blind Method