Reminiscence groups for dementia assessed

New research commissioned by the National Institute for Health Research's Health Technology Assessment (NIHR HTA) programme is investigating the clinical and cost-effectiveness of 'reminiscence groups' for helping people with dementia and their carers. The groups, run by professionals and volunteers, use photographs, recordings and other objects to trigger personal memories for people with dementia, and it is thought that this may help to maintain their autobiographical memory and improve their relationships with their carers, but there is little evidence about their effectiveness.

In a £1.2 million trial, led by Professor Bob Woods of Bangor University, researchers aim to investigate the effectiveness and added value of reminiscence group therapy compared with the usual care that people with dementia are offered. People with dementia will be invited to take part in the study, together with their carers, at eight centres across England and Wales. Those taking part will either attend reminiscence groups, meeting weekly for 12 weeks and then continuing reminiscence work monthly for a further seven months, or they will receive 'usual care' in day care centres.  

After 10 months the researchers intend to ask the people with dementia about their quality of life and their carers about their stress. Pilot studies carried out by the research team have developed a measure of the quality of the relationship between patient and carer, and of the 'autobiographical memory' of the person with dementia (this is the specific aspect of memory that should respond to reminiscence work), and these will be assessed by the research team together with the cost-effectiveness of the therapy.

"The growing number of people with dementia, and the increasing cost of caring for them, provides a major incentive to develop and test methods of supporting them in the community for longer," says Professor Woods. "Drug treatment has received most attention, but there is increasing evidence that psychological and social interventions may be equally effective, even preferable where medication has negative side-effects. We hope that the results of our study will provide the NHS with important evidence to help inform the care of people with dementia."   

Professor Woods is an ambassador for the Alzheimer's Society, the country's leading care and research charity for people with dementia and their carers.

Professor Clive Ballard, Alzheimer's Society director of research, says, "This is the first time such a large study has been carried out into reminiscence therapy for people with dementia and their carers. Positive evidence has been emerging in this area and it is vital research is pursued into non-drug therapies. This trial will be essential in providing solid evidence for establishing the true value of reminiscence therapy and how it should best be used to support people with dementia and their carers."

To view full details about the project visit


Notes to Editors

1. The HTA programme is a programme of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and produces high quality research information about the effectiveness, costs, and broader impact of health technologies for those who use, manage and provide care in the NHS. It is the largest of the NIHR programmes and publishes the results of its research in the Health Technology Assessment journal, with over 400 issues published to date. The journal's 2006 Impact Factor (5.29) ranked it in the top 10% of medical and health-related journals. All issues are available for download free of charge from the website, The HTA programme is coordinated by the National Coordinating Centre for Health Technology Assessment (NCCHTA), based at the University of Southampton.
2. The National Institute for Health Research provides the framework through which the research staff and research infrastructure of the NHS in England is positioned, maintained and managed as a national research facility.  The NIHR provides the NHS with the support and infrastructure it needs to conduct first-class research funded by the Government and its partners alongside high-quality patient care, education and training.  Its aim is to support outstanding individuals (both leaders and collaborators), working in world class facilities (both NHS and university), conducting leading edge research focused on the needs of patients. 3. The Alzheimer's Society champions the rights of people living with dementia and those who care for them. The Alzheimer's Society works in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. As a charity, the Alzheimer's Society depends on the generosity of the public to help it care, research and campaign for people with dementia. You can donate now by calling 0845 306 0898 or visiting The Alzheimer's Society Dementia Helpline number is 0845 300 0336.
Further information:
Ruth Allen, Programme Manager (Communications), NCCHTA, Tel. 02380 595584, email Naomi Stockley, Assistant Programme Manager (Communications), NCCHTA Tel. 02380 595646, email

Healthcare Republic does not have an editorial influence or input in to these press releases. The views expressed within these documents are not endorsed by Healthcare Republic or Haymarket Medical Publications Limited.

Enquiries should be directed to any contacts listed within the press releases.


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