Effects of Tabletop Games on Cognition in Older Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Games Health J. 2022 Aug;11(4):225-235. doi: 10.1089/g4h.2021.0132. Epub 2022 Jun 10.


Studies have shown that leisure activities, such as tabletop games, not only increase social interactions and reduce depression among older adults, but also help improve their cognitive function. However, the effects of tabletop games on cognition in older adults are yet to be comprehensively analyzed. The purpose of this study was to review and examine the effects of tabletop games on cognition in older adults. This review followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. Articles were searched in seven electronic databases from their inception to December 2020. A total of 3946 studies were retrieved, among which 11 studies were systematically reviewed and 10 were meta-analyzed. In older adults with intact cognition, tabletop games had positive effects on their global cognition (standardized mean differences [SMD] = 1.36, 95% confidence intervals [CI]: 0.37-2.34, P < 0.001) and executive function (SMD = 0.47, 95% CI: 0.12-0.83, P < 0.001). In older adults with cognitive impairment, significant differences were found in global cognition (SMD = 0.53, 95% CI: 0.09-0.98, P = 0.02). Tabletop games had the characteristics of cognitive training and interpersonal interactions. After receiving tabletop game interventions, the cognitive functioning in older adults with intact cognition and those with mild cognitive impairment or dementia was improved. For older adults, in addition to improving cognitive functioning, tabletop games also increased their social participation and interactions. Systematic Review Registration: This review has been registered in the PROSPERO (CRD42021254085).

Keywords: Cognition; Meta-analysis; Older adults; Systematic review; Tabletop game.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cognition
  • Cognitive Dysfunction*
  • Executive Function
  • Humans
  • Social Participation
  • Video Games*