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A literature review of spaced-retrieval interventions: a direct memory intervention for people with dementia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 July 2013

Alexandra S. Creighton
Affiliation:
Aged Mental Health Research Unit, School of Psychology and Psychiatry, Monash University, Cheltenham, Victoria, Australia
Eva S. van der Ploeg
Affiliation:
Aged Mental Health Research Unit, School of Psychology and Psychiatry, Monash University, Cheltenham, Victoria, Australia
Daniel W. O’Connor*
Affiliation:
Aged Mental Health Research Unit, School of Psychology and Psychiatry, Monash University, Cheltenham, Victoria, Australia
*
Correspondence should be addressed to: Professor Daniel O’Connor, AMHRU, Kingston Centre, Warrigal Road, Cheltenham, VIC 3192, Australia. Phone: +61-3-9265-1700; Fax: +61-3 9265-1711. Email: daniel.oconnor@monash.edu.

Abstract

Background:

With the increasing prevalence of dementia, there is a pressing need to identify effective interventions that prolong independent functioning. As pharmacological interventions aimed at slowing cognitive decline have been found to have a number of limitations, research has now moved toward studying complementary non-pharmacological cognitive training interventions. This review describes the use of spaced-retrieval as a method to teach new information and reduce behavioral problems in people with dementia.

Methods:

We searched the databases PsychINFO, MEDLINE, and Scopus as well as reference lists of relevant papers to identify articles describing the use of spaced-retrieval with people with dementia. Only primary, peer-reviewed research published in English was included in this review.

Results:

In total, 34 studies were identified, three of which were randomized controlled trials. We found that across studies, there was wide variability with regard to design, methodology, and outcome measures used. Nonetheless, the existing research demonstrates that spaced-retrieval training can be successfully used to teach people with dementia new and previously known face- and object–name associations, as well as cue–behavior associations aimed at alleviating problem behaviors and improving functional skills. The method can also assist with the recollection of past events.

Conclusions:

Current evidence indicates that spaced-retrieval training is effective in enabling people with dementia to learn new information and behavioral strategies. Future research should attempt to address the limitations outlined in this review and focus on utilizing this technique to achieve more functional and clinically relevant outcomes. Recommendations are also made with regard to investigating potential secondary benefits of spaced-retrieval and strengthening study design.

Type
Review Article
Copyright
Copyright © International Psychogeriatric Association 2013 

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