A systematic review of the effects of occupational therapy for persons with dementia: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

NeuroRehabilitation. 2012;31(2):107-15. doi: 10.3233/NRE-2012-0779.


Objective: Meta-analysis was conducted to examine effects of OT interventions based on sensory stimulation, environmental modification and functional task activity on the behavioral problems and depression of individual with dementia.

Search strategy: An extensive search in database such as MEDLINE, CINAHL, ProQuest Medical Library, and Cochrane and OT related 11 journals was performed.

Selection criteria: Potential studies were identified through the

Keywords: dementia or Alzheimer, randomized controlled trials and occupational therapy or occupational therapist or ADL or sensory stimulation or Snoezelen or environmental modification or education for caregivers.

Data collection and analysis: Two reviewers independently identified studies, extracted data, assessed methodological quality of the studies. Effect size was estimated using standardized mean difference with 95% confidence intervals. Significant heterogeneity and publication bias were investigated.

Main results: Nine studies including 751 people were selected. Sensory stimulation was effective intervention in improving behavioral problems (0.32; 95% CI, 0.04 to 0.59).

Conclusion: This review identified that OT intervention based on sensory stimulation was effective intervention to improve behavioral problems. However, the number of studies included in this review is limited. More research is needed to enable evidence-based OT for dementia patients.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Databases, Factual / statistics & numerical data
  • Dementia / rehabilitation*
  • Humans
  • Occupational Therapy / methods*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic*