A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials on the effect of serious games on people with dementia

Ageing Res Rev. 2022 Dec;82:101740. doi: 10.1016/j.arr.2022.101740. Epub 2022 Sep 30.


Background: An increase in dementia prevalence has been accompanied by increasing interest in new rehabilitation methods, such as serious games. Serious games hold the potential to postpone functional and cognitive declines in people with dementia by increasing their independence and engagement; however, the efficacy of serious games remains underexplored. This review was conducted to quantify the effects of serious games in people with dementia, including several newly published trials, with the hopes of contributing to evidence-based practice by offering support for clinical decision-making.

Methods: Only randomized controlled trials (RCTs) assessing the impacts of game-based intervention programs compared with conventional therapy on cognitive function, instrumental and non-instrumental activities of daily living, or depression among people with dementia were included in this review. Meta-analyses were performed to determine the pooled standardized mean difference (SMD) of each outcome using a random-effects model.

Results: The final search identified 12 studies that met our criteria. Overall, serious games were found to improve cognitive function (pooled SMD: 0.34; 95% CI: 0.07-0.61) and alleviated depression (pooled SMD: -0.131; 95% CI: -1.85 to -0.77) in people with dementia.

Conclusions: Serious games improve cognitive function and reduce depression in people with dementia. Future studies in this field should aim to evaluate and determine the long-term effect of these games.

Keywords: Meta-analysis; Non-pharmacology intervention; People with dementia; Rehabilitation; Serious games.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cognition
  • Dementia* / psychology
  • Dementia* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic