Non-pharmacological interventions for Lewy body dementia: a systematic review

Psychol Med. 2018 Aug;48(11):1749-1758. doi: 10.1017/S0033291717003257. Epub 2017 Nov 16.


Lewy body dementia (consisting of dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinson's disease dementia) is a common neurodegenerative disease characterised by visual hallucinations, fluctuating attention, motor disturbances, falls, and sensitivity to antipsychotics. This combination of features presents challenges for pharmacological management. Given this, we sought to review evidence for non-pharmacological interventions with patients with Lewy body dementia and their carers. Bibliographic databases were searched using a wide range of search terms and no restrictions were placed on study design, language, or clinical setting. Two reviewers independently assessed papers for inclusion, rated study quality, and extracted data. The search identified 21 studies including two randomised controlled trials with available subgroup data, seven case series, and 12 case studies. Most studies reported beneficial effects of the interventions used, though the only sizeable study was on dysphagia, showing a benefit of honey-thickened liquids. Given the heterogeneity of interventions and poor quality of the studies overall, no quantitative synthesis was possible. Overall, identified studies suggested possible benefits of non-pharmacological interventions in Lewy body dementia, but the small sample sizes and low quality of studies mean no definite recommendations can be offered. Our findings underscore the clear and urgent need for future research on this topic.

Keywords: Caregiver support; Lewy body dementia; Parkinson's disease dementia; dementia with Lewy bodies; neuropsychiatric symptoms; non-pharmacological.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Electric Stimulation Therapy / methods*
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Lewy Body Disease / therapy*
  • Occupational Therapy / methods*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care / standards*
  • Psychotherapy / methods*