Precious memories: a randomized controlled trial on the effects of an autobiographical memory intervention delivered by trained volunteers in residential care homes

Gerben J. Westerhof* (Corresponding Author), Jojanneke Korte, Sander Eshuis, Ernst T. Bohlmeijer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
85 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Objectives: This study assesses the effects of an autobiographical memory intervention on the prevention and reduction of depressive symptoms in older persons in residential care. Trained volunteers delivered the intervention. Methods: A randomized controlled trial was carried out with depressive symptoms as the primary outcome. The experimental condition received the intervention Precious Memories one-on-one, whereas the control condition had individual unstructured contacts with a volunteer. Participants were 86 older persons living in residential care. There were three measurements: pre-intervention, post-intervention (2 months after the first measurement), and follow-up (8 months after the first measurement). Besides depressive symptoms, the retrieval of specific positive memories was measured as a process variable. Anxiety, loneliness, well-being, and mastery were assessed as secondary outcomes. Results: Depressive symptoms improved equally in the intervention and the control condition at post-measurement. Participants with clinically relevant depressive symptoms also maintained the effects at follow-up in both conditions. The retrieval of specific positive memories improved more in the autobiographical memory intervention, although this was not maintained at follow-up. Anxiety and loneliness improved equally well in both conditions, but no effects were found for well-being or mastery. Conclusion: It is concluded that volunteers can deliver the intervention and contribute to the mental health of this highly vulnerable group of older adults.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1494-1501
Number of pages8
JournalAging & mental health
Volume22
Issue number11
Early online date20 Sep 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Keywords

  • Depression
  • institutional care
  • reminiscence therapy
  • volunteers

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