Improving hearing and vision in dementia: protocol for a field trial of a new intervention

BMJ Open. 2017 Nov 28;7(11):e018744. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-018744.


Introduction: Quality of life and other key outcomes may be improved by optimising hearing and vision function in people living with dementia. To date, there is limited research assessing the efficacy of interventions aimed at improving hearing and vision in people with dementia. Here, we outline a protocol to field test a newly developed home-based intervention, designed to optimise sensory functioning in people with dementia in three European sites. The results of this study will inform the design and conduct of a full-scale randomised controlled trial (RCT) in five European sites.

Methods and analysis: In this multisite, single arm, open label, feasibility study, participants with dementia (n=24) will be assessed for hearing and vision impairments and be prescribed a hearing aid and/or glasses. Each participant will have a study partner ('dyads'). A subset of dyads will receive 'sensory support' from a 'sensory support therapist', comprising home visits over 12 weeks. The therapist will offer the following intervention: adherence support for corrective devices; adaptations to the home environment to facilitate sensory function; communication training; and referral to community-based support services. The primary outcomes will be process measures assessing the feasibility, tolerability and acceptability of: (1) the intervention components; (2) the method of implementation of the intervention and (3) the study procedures, including outcome assessment measures. Quantitative data will be collected at baseline and follow-up. Qualitative data using semistructured interviews will be collected postintervention and weekly, using participant diaries. Finally, we will explore a model of cost-effectiveness to apply in the subsequent full-scale trial. This feasibility study is a necessary step in the development of a complex, individualised, psychosocial intervention. The data gathered will allow logistical and theoretical processes to be refined in preparation for a full-scale RCT.

Ethics and dissemination: Ethical approval was obtained in all three participating countries. Results of the field trial will be submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

Keywords: Europe; dementia; feasibility; hearing and vision rehabilitation; psychosocial intervention.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Dementia / complications*
  • Europe
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Hearing Loss / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Quality of Life*
  • Research Design
  • Vision Disorders / therapy*