Personally tailored activities for improving psychosocial outcomes for people with dementia in community settings

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Background: People with dementia living in the community, that is in their own homes, are often not engaged in meaningful activities. Activities tailored to their individual interests and preferences might be one approach to improve quality of life and reduce challenging behaviour. Objectives: To assess the effects of personally tailored activities on psychosocial outcomes for people with dementia living in the community and their caregivers. To describe the components of the interventions. To describe conditions which enhance the effectiveness of personally tailored activities in this setting. Search methods: We searched ALOIS: the Cochrane Dementia and Cognitive Improvement Group’s Specialized Register on 11 September 2019 using the terms: activity OR activities OR occupation* OR “psychosocial intervention" OR "non-pharmacological intervention" OR "personally-tailored" OR "individually-tailored" OR individual OR meaning OR involvement OR engagement OR occupational OR personhood OR "person-centred" OR identity OR Montessori OR community OR ambulatory OR "home care" OR "geriatric day hospital" OR "day care" OR "behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia" OR "BPSD" OR "neuropsychiatric symptoms" OR "challenging behaviour" OR "quality of life" OR depression. ALOIS contains records of clinical trials identified from monthly searches of a number of major healthcare databases, numerous trial registries and grey literature sources. Selection criteria: We included randomised controlled trials and quasi-experimental trials including a control group offering personally tailored activities. All interventions comprised an assessment of the participant’s present or past interests in, or preferences for, particular activities for all participants as a basis for an individual activity plan. We did not include interventions offering a single activity (e.g. music or reminiscence) or activities that were not tailored to the individual's interests or preferences. Control groups received usual care or an active control intervention. Data collection and analysis: Two review authors independently checked the articles for inclusion, extracted data, and assessed the methodological quality of all included studies. We assessed the risk of selection bias, performance bias, attrition bias, and detection bias. In case of missing information, we contacted the study authors. Main results: We included five randomised controlled trials (four parallel-group studies and one cross-over study), in which a total of 262 participants completed the studies. The number of participants ranged from 30 to 160. The mean age of the participants ranged from 71 to 83 years, and mean Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) scores ranged from 11 to 24. One study enrolled predominantly male veterans; in the other studies the proportion of female participants ranged from 40% to 60%. Informal caregivers were mainly spouses. In four studies family caregivers were trained to deliver personally tailored activities based on an individual assessment of interests and preferences of the people with dementia, and in one study such activities were offered directly to the participants. The selection of activities was performed with different methods. Two studies compared personally tailored activities with an attention control group, and three studies with usual care. Duration of follow-up ranged from two weeks to four months. We found low-certainty evidence indicating that personally tailored activities may reduce challenging behaviour (standardised mean difference (SMD) −0.44, 95% confidence interval (CI) −0.77 to −0.10; I2 = 44%; 4 studies; 305 participants) and may slightly improve quality of life (based on the rating of family caregivers). For the secondary outcomes depression (two studies), affect (one study), passivity (one study), and engagement (two studies), we found low-certainty evidence that personally tailored activities may have little or no effect. We found low-certainty evidence that personally tailored activities may slightly improve caregiver distress (two studies) and may have little or no effect on caregiver burden (MD −0.62, 95% CI −3.08 to 1.83; I2 = 0%; 3 studies; 246 participants), caregivers' quality of life, and caregiver depression. None of the studies assessed adverse effects, and no information about adverse effects was reported in any study. Authors' conclusions: Offering personally tailored activities to people with dementia living in the community may be one approach for reducing challenging behaviour and may also slightly improve the quality of life of people with dementia. Given the low certainty of the evidence, these results should be interpreted with caution. For depression and affect of people with dementia, as well as caregivers' quality of life and burden, we found no clear benefits of personally tailored activities.




Möhler, R., Renom, A., Renom, H., & Meyer, G. (2020, August 12). Personally tailored activities for improving psychosocial outcomes for people with dementia in community settings. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. John Wiley and Sons Ltd.

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