Prospective Memory Training in Older Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Neuropsychol Rev. 2023 Jun;33(2):347-372. doi: 10.1007/s11065-022-09536-5. Epub 2022 May 11.


Prospective memory (PM), which enables one to remember to carry out delayed intentions, is crucial for everyday functioning. PM commonly deteriorates upon cognitive decline in older adults, but several studies have shown that PM in older adults can be improved by training. The current study aimed to summarise this evidence by conducting a qualitative systematic analysis and quantitative meta-analysis of the effects of PM training in older adults, for which systematic searches were conducted across seven databases (Cochrane Library, Embase, PubMed, PsycInfo, Web of Science, CINAHL and Scopus). Forty-eight studies were included in the qualitative analysis, and 43% of the assessed PM training interventions showed positive gains in enhancing PM. However, the methodological quality varied across the studies, with 41% of the non-randomised control trials (non-RCTs) rated as having either serious or critical risk of bias. Therefore, only 29 RCTs were included in the subsequent quantitative meta-analysis. We found a significant and moderate immediate efficacy (Hedges' g = 0.54) of PM training in enhancing PM performance in older adults, but no significant long-term efficacy (Hedges' g = 0.20). Two subgroup analyses also revealed a robust training efficacy across the study population (i.e., healthy and clinical population) and the number of training sessions (i.e., single session and programme-based). Overall, this study provided positive evidence to support PM training in older adults. Further studies are warranted to explore the mechanisms by which PM training exerts its effects, and better-quality RCTs are needed to provide more robust evidence supporting our findings.

Keywords: Ageing; Meta-analysis; Older adults; Prospective memory.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cognition
  • Cognitive Dysfunction*
  • Cognitive Training
  • Humans
  • Memory, Episodic*