How Effective are Pictures in Eliciting Information from People Living with Dementia? A Systematic Review

Clin Gerontol. 2023 Jul-Sep;46(4):511-524. doi: 10.1080/07317115.2022.2085643. Epub 2022 Jun 7.


Objectives: Decline in language and cognitive functioning often deprives people living with moderate-to-severe dementia of self-reporting their quality of life (QoL) on the written and verbal formats of questionnaires. This systematic review aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of pictorial tools as an alternative method for enabling people living with dementia to self-report their QoL.

Methods: PubMed, PsycINFO, CINAHL, and EMBASE were searched. Primary research studies reporting on information elicitation from people living with dementia through pictures were deemed eligible. Six studies satisfied the inclusion criteria. Methodological quality of the studies was evaluated through Downs and Black checklist. Data was extracted according to population, intervention, comparator, and outcomes (PICO) and results were summarized and supplemented by narrative synthesis.

Results: Compared to usual communication methods, pictorial tools were found to have a superior effect on comprehension of conversations and decision-making abilities, minimal effect on preference consistency, and an undeterminable effect on discourse features.

Conclusions: There is consistent evidence that pictures enhance comprehension and might facilitate decision-making abilities.

Clinical implications: QoL information can be elicited more effectively through pictorial tools. Future studies warrant development of pictorial versions of standardized QoL tools which will assist the inclusion of people living with severe dementia.

Keywords: Dementia; pictorial tools; quality of life; visual communication.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cognition
  • Communication
  • Dementia*
  • Humans
  • Language
  • Quality of Life*

Associated data

  • figshare/10.6084/m9.figshare.19840087