Computer-based cognitive interventions for people living with dementia: a systematic literature review and meta-analysis

Aging Ment Health. 2017 May;21(5):454-467. doi: 10.1080/13607863.2015.1132677. Epub 2016 Jan 25.


Objectives: To estimate the efficacy of computer-based cognitive interventions for improving cognition in people with dementia (PWD).

Method: Online literature databases were searched for relevant studies. Interventions were categorised as follows: cognitive recreation, cognitive rehabilitation, cognitive stimulation or cognitive training. A systematic review, quality assessment and meta-analyses were conducted.

Results: Twelve studies were identified. Their methodological quality was acceptable according to Downs & Black criteria, the weakest methodological area being the external validity. The meta-analyses indicated cognitive interventions lead to beneficial effects on cognition in PWD (SMD 0.69; 95% CI = 1.02-0.37; P < 0.0001; I(2) = 29%), [corrected] depression (SMD 0.47; 95% CI = 0.16-0.78; P = 0.003; I(2) = 0%) and anxiety (SMD 0.55; 95% CI = 0.07-1.04; P < 0.03; I(2) = 42%). [corrected]. They benefited significantly more from the computer-based cognitive interventions than from the non-computer-based interventions in cognition (SMD 0.48; 95% CI = 0.09-0.87; [corrected] P = 0.02; I(2) = 2%).

Conclusion: Computer-based cognitive interventions have moderate effects in cognition and [corrected] anxiety and small effects in depression in PWD. No significant effects were found on activities of daily living. They led to superior results compared to non-computer-based interventions in cognition. Further research is needed on cognitive recreation and cognitive stimulation. There is also a need for longer term [corrected] follow-up to examine the potential retention of treatment effects, and for the design of specific outcome measures.

Keywords: Alzheimer disease; Cognitive rehabilitation; cognitive stimulation; computer; dementia.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review
  • Published Erratum

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Dementia / psychology
  • Dementia / therapy*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Humans
  • Therapy, Computer-Assisted*