Towards an increased understanding of Reminiscence Therapy for people with Dementia: A Narrative Analysis

Fiona Macleod*, Lesley Storey, Teresa Rushe, Katrina McLaughlin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
58 Downloads (Pure)



Reminiscence therapy is a popular therapeutic intervention for people with dementia. This review set out to provide a better understanding of reminiscence therapy through a deeper analysis of its contents and delivery.


This review examined 22 studies from the most recent Cochrane review (Woods, B., O’Philbin, L., Farrell, E. M., Spector, A. E., & Orrell, M. (2018). Reminiscence therapy for dementia. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews3, Article 001120) and addressed the following research questions: (1) What are the components of reminiscence therapy? (2) Who delivers reminiscence therapy? (3) How is reminiscence therapy delivered? (4) Is reminiscence therapy underpinned by a theoretical framework? (5) Is reminiscence therapy delivered according to a programme/model? (6) Are there commonalities in the reminiscence therapy components utilised? Multiple and layered narrative analyses were completed.


Thirteen reminiscence therapy components were identified. ‘Memory triggers’ and ‘themes’ were identified as the most common but were found not to be consistently beneficial. Reminiscence therapy was typically delivered in a care setting using a group approach; however, there was no consistency in session composition, intervention duration, as well as the training and supervision provided to facilitators. Operationalisation of theory within reminiscence therapy was not identified. Reminiscence therapy was not consistently delivered according to a programme/model. Lastly, as a result of a small number of studies, the components ‘life stages’, ‘activities’ and ‘family-only sessions’, showed beneficial promise. In summary, this review highlights that reminiscence therapy needs more consistency in content and delivery, in addition to a clear theoretical framework.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages33
JournalDementia:The International Journal of Social Research and Practice
Early online date08 Aug 2020
Publication statusEarly online date - 08 Aug 2020


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