The social treatment: the benefits of group interventions in residential care settings

Psychol Aging. 2010 Mar;25(1):157-67. doi: 10.1037/a0018256.


We report findings from an intervention study that investigates the impact of group reminiscence (GR) and individual reminiscence (IR) activities on older adults living in care settings. This research aimed to provide a theory-driven evaluation of reminiscence based on a social identity framework. This framework predicts better health outcomes for group-based interventions as a result of their capacity to create a sense of shared social identification among participants. A total of 73 residents, living in either standard or specialized (i.e., dementia) care units, were randomly assigned to one of three interventions: GR (n = 29), IR (n = 24), and a group control activity (n = 20). The intervention took place over 6 weeks, and cognitive screening and well-being measures were administered both pre- and post-intervention. Results indicated that only the group interventions produced effective outcomes and that these differed as a modality-specific function of condition: Collective recollection of past memories enhanced memory performance, and engaging in a shared social activity enhanced well-being. Theoretically, these findings point to the important role that group membership plays in maintaining and promoting health and well-being.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Affect
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology
  • Anxiety Disorders / therapy
  • Assisted Living Facilities*
  • Dementia / psychology
  • Dementia / therapy*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Male
  • Mental Recall*
  • Mental Status Schedule
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Psychotherapy, Group / methods*
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Self Concept
  • Social Behavior
  • Social Identification