Systematic review of the effective components of psychosocial interventions delivered by care home staff to people with dementia

BMJ Open. 2017 Feb 9;7(2):e014177. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2016-014177.


Objectives: This review aims to understand what elements of psychosocial interventions are associated with improved outcomes for people with dementia to inform implementation in care homes.

Design: A systematic review of qualitative and quantitative intervention studies was undertaken.

Eligibility criteria for included studies: We included primary research studies evaluating psychosocial interventions that trained care home staff to deliver a specific intervention or that sought to change how staff delivered care to residents with dementia and reported staff and resident qualitative or quantitative outcomes.

Methods: We searched MEDLINE, PsychINFO and EMBASE electronic databases and hand-searched references up to May 2016. Quality of included papers was rated independently by 2 authors, using operationalised checklists derived from standard criteria. We discussed discrepancies and reached consensus. We conducted a narrative synthesis of quantitative and a thematic synthesis of qualitative findings to find what was effective immediately and in sustaining change.

Results: We identified 49 papers fulfilling predetermined criteria. We found a lack of higher quality quantitative evidence that effects could be sustained after psychosocial interventions finished with no evidence that interventions continued to work after 6 months. Qualitative findings suggest that staff valued interventions focusing on getting to know, understand and connect with residents with dementia. Successful elements of interventions included interactive training, post-training support, aiming to train most staff, retaining written materials afterwards and building interventions into routine care.

Conclusions: Psychosocial interventions can improve outcomes for staff and residents with dementia in care homes; however, many trial results are limited. Synthesis of qualitative findings highlight core components of interventions that staff value and feel improve care. These findings provide useful evidence to inform the development of sustainable, effective psychosocial interventions in care homes.

Trial registration number: CRD42015017621.


Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Caregivers / education*
  • Caregivers / psychology
  • Dementia / nursing*
  • Humans
  • Nursing Homes
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Quality of Life