Effect of Individual Reminiscence Therapy in the Elderly People With Neurocognitive Disorders

  • End date
    Sep 30, 2021
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    Rsocialform - Geriatria, Lda
Updated on 29 April 2021


This research aims to evaluate the ability of individual reminiscence therapy (RT), using a simple reminiscence format, to improve the overall cognitive function, memory, emotional status and quality of life (QoL) of older adults with neurocognitive disorders (NCD) attending social care and support services. A multicentre randomised controlled trial (RCT) is proposed in Azores archipelago with repeated measures (pre-intervention, post-intervention and follow-up). Intervention group will hold 26 individual RT sessions, twice a week for 13 weeks. Control group participants will maintain their treatment as usual. Make a subsample analysis of the main clinical diagnoses, and compare the results of sample and subsample with a previous study that had the same intervention protocol.


Neurocognitive disorder (NCD) is one of the main causes of disability among older adults and its prevalence is increasing due to the ageing of the population. It is estimated that globally, neurocognitive disorders affect 44.35 million people and it is expected that by the year 2050 the number of those affected worldwide will triple up to 135.46 million.

The absence of an effective pharmacological treatment that halts or delays the development of the disease has aroused interest in non-pharmacological therapies (NPT) as a complement to pharmacological treatment that can improve the quality of life of people with neurocognitive disorders. One of the most researched NPT and with the greatest tradition in this field is Reminiscence Therapy (RT).

RT implies the discussion of past activities, events and experiences, usually with the help of triggers (e.g., photographs, home objects and other familiar items from the past, music, any object or stimulus) that serve to stimulate memories. In its application to dementias, RT is based on the fact that the memory deficit of people with dementia implies that they are able to remember events from their past life, especially from childhood to early adulthood, but not newer facts. It focuses on preserved capacities and memories, promotes communication and enables the person to connect with his past and recover his sense of personal identity. In this way, the RT can be understood as an intervention on the edge of those of cognitive orientation and those centred on emotion, with potential interactive effects on autobiographical memory and psychological well-being.

In simplified form, there are at least two approaches to RT. The first approach as a "life review" where participants are guided through significant experiences of their biography trying to give meaning to their lives. This type of RT is more structured and is usually conducted in an individual format. It may involve the production of "life books". This approach is considered to have an integrative function aimed at achieving a sense of validation, coherence and reconciliation with one's past. Another approach that call general or simple reminiscence, implies the stimulation of autobiographical memory during conversations on specific themes of the past (e.g, holidays, food and drink, work) using stimulus to trigger memories. It has been described as an unstructured autobiographical memory narration. This reminiscence format can be conducted both individually and in groups and promotes communication between participants who share their memories and stories.

In either format that RT is applied on, the introduction of triggering stimulus (e.g., photographs, music, old objects) to help memory is considered fundamental. These triggers can be generic, reflecting common experiences in the lives of people relevant to their age group (e.g., a school manual can serve as a reminder of the experience during their school stage), or specific, with stimulus related to the person's own experiences (e.g., photographs of an important vital event such as their wedding day or a journey during their youth).

As for the effectiveness of RT, according to a recent review by Cochrane, there is some evidence on its positive effects on cognition, QoL, communication and possibly on the mood of people with dementia, even if the benefits are small. Despite the distinction between the two different approaches to RT (general reminiscence vs. life history), the therapy modality does not seem to be as important to achieve positive effects as the individual or group format of the sessions and the context in which the intervention is administered (people living in the community or institutionalised).

In particular, according to the results of the review study, the RT seems to be able to generate a small benefit on cognitive function immediately after the intervention, although it usually does not continue after a longer follow-up period. Regarding the administration format, the individual RT seems slightly superior in its effects on cognition both immediately and after a follow-up period. In any case, its effects seem comparable to those of other cognitive stimulation modalities.

As for the effect of RT on quality of life (QoL), an individual RT study based on life review, showed an improvement in Qol-AD. The effects with a group modality do not seem consistent, showing little or no effect on QoL, although the key factor may be the context of application (community vs. institution), with better group RT results in institutionalised patients.

In a multicentre study conducted in Portugal with older adults with neurocognitive disorders, in individual format, there was a significant effect on the overall cognition, memory and QoL of the participants.

Group RT was associated with a likely effect on communication both after the intervention and in the follow-up. This effect was not replicated in the individual RT, with uncertain results.

Finally, despite the evidence on the effect of RT on the mood of elderly people without dementia, in the case of people with dementia only a small effect on mood was found for those participating in individual RT. In the portuguese multicentre studies there were no significant differences in depressive symptomatology.

Based on the above, this research proposal aims to evaluate the ability of individual RT within a general reminiscence format, to improve overall cognitive function, in particular memory, emotional state (depression and anxiety) and QoL of older adults with neurocognitive disorders attending social care and support services in the Azores archipelago.

It is proposed to evaluate the efficacy of the intervention in the endpoint assessment and the duration of the effects at three months follow-up. Furthermore, an analysis of results based on the diagnosis of the participants is proposed for those diagnoses with sufficient representation in the sample (more than 20 cases in each group). Additionally, it is proposed to analyze the factors that predict the response to the intervention (responder analysis). Finally, the results of this study will be compared and can be analyzed together with those of a previous study that used the same individual RT program and the same experimental design (clinicaltrials.gov ID: NCT04047238).

Condition Dementia, Alzheimer's Disease, Cognitive Impairment, Cognitive Dysfunction, Cognitive Decline, Neurocognitive Disorders, Neurocognitive Disorder, Cognitive Impairments, Mental Deterioration, neurocognitive disturbance
Treatment Reminiscence Therapy
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04658394
SponsorRsocialform - Geriatria, Lda
Last Modified on29 April 2021


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Is your age greater than or equal to 65 yrs?
Gender: Male or Female
Do you have any of these conditions: neurocognitive disturbance or Cognitive Dysfunction or Cognitive Decline or Neurocognitive Disorder or Dementia or Alzheimer's Disease or Cognitive Im...?
Do you have any of these conditions: Alzheimer's Disease or Dementia or Cognitive Impairment or Cognitive Dysfunction or Mental Deterioration or Cognitive Impairments or Neurocognitive Di...?
Do you have any of these conditions: Dementia or Cognitive Impairments or neurocognitive disturbance or Cognitive Decline or Cognitive Impairment or Cognitive Dysfunction or Neurocognitiv...?
Do you have any of these conditions: Dementia or Cognitive Impairment or neurocognitive disturbance or Alzheimer's Disease or Cognitive Decline or Neurocognitive Disorder or Neurocognitiv...?
Having a formal diagnosis of a neurocognitive disorder according to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition [DSM-5] criteria (participants diagnosis will be confirm in their health records at the institution)
Having delivered the informed consent form, duly completed and signed, after prior information
Being able to communicate and understand
Possibility of gathering information about the participant's life history through family members or usual caregivers, using the socio-family questionnaire designed for that purpose
Being 65 years of age or older
Being a native Portuguese speaker
Regularly attending an institution that provides social care and support services for older adults (including people living in long-term care centres, people attending day and social centres and people receiving home support services)

Exclusion Criteria

Suffering from an acute or severe illness that prevent participation in the intervention sessions
Severe sensory and physical limitations that prevent participation
Low level of consciousness and minimal attention span
Presence of severe neuropsychiatric symptoms, such as agitation, psychosis, severe depressive and anxiety symptoms, apathy, or presence of uncontrolled delirium that prevent participation in the sessions
Traumatic life history or marked by adverse events that discourage participation in RT sessions; history of adverse reactions during RT sessions or similar activities
Have a serious or total functional dependence (assessed through the Barthel index)
Clear my responses

How to participate?

Step 1 Connect with a site
What happens next?
  • You can expect the study team to contact you via email or phone in the next few days.
  • Sign up as volunteer to help accelerate the development of new treatments and to get notified about similar trials.

You are contacting

Investigator Avatar

Primary Contact


Phone Email

Please verify that you are not a bot.

Additional screening procedures may be conducted by the study team before you can be confirmed eligible to participate.

Learn more

If you are confirmed eligible after full screening, you will be required to understand and sign the informed consent if you decide to enroll in the study. Once enrolled you may be asked to make scheduled visits over a period of time.

Learn more

Complete your scheduled study participation activities and then you are done. You may receive summary of study results if provided by the sponsor.

Learn more

Similar trials to consider


Not finding what you're looking for?

Every year hundreds of thousands of volunteers step forward to participate in research. Sign up as a volunteer and receive email notifications when clinical trials are posted in the medical category of interest to you.

Sign up as volunteer

user name

Added by • 



Reply by • Private

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur, adipisicing elit. Ipsa vel nobis alias. Quae eveniet velit voluptate quo doloribus maxime et dicta in sequi, corporis quod. Ea, dolor eius? Dolore, vel!

  The passcode will expire in None.

No annotations made yet

Add a private note
  • abc Select a piece of text from the left.
  • Add notes visible only to you.
  • Send it to people through a passcode protected link.
Add a private note