A 3-arm randomized controlled trial on the effects of dance movement intervention and exercises on elderly with early dementia


Abstract. Background. Dementia is characterized by a progressive decline and deterioration of brain regions such as memory, spatial navigation and language, along with disturbances in daily functioning. Non-pharmacological interventions that offer a holistic approach by targeting cognitive functioning, prognosis and the psychological and social effects of dementia require rigorous investigation. The well- established benefits of physical activity for cognitive functioning and psychological support in dementia have been observed with dance-movement intervention. There is substantial evidence that dance- movement interventions provide emotional and social advantages. Thus, a randomized controlled trial (RCT) is planned to investigate the positive effects of a dance movement intervention, compared with mild physical exercise, on the physical and psychological well-being of elderly Chinese individuals with early dementia.
Methods/Design. A 3-arm RCT with waitlist control design will be used in this study. Two hundred and one elderly participants with very mild to mild dementia will be screened and randomized into the following groups: (i) dance movement based intervention, (ii) stretching and exercise intervention and (iii) no intervention waitlist-control group. The two intervention groups will receive a 1-h intervention, twice a week, for 12 weeks. The participants will be assessed four times over the course of 12 months: baseline before randomization, post-intervention (3 months), 6 months from baseline and 12 months from baseline. The primary outcomes will be compared between assessment points and between groups on neuropsychiatric symptoms, psychosocial well-being and cognitive and daily functioning. Secondary outcomes will assess the changes in salivary cortisol levels and their relationships with the primary outcome measures.
Discussion. This study will provide substantial evidence of the efficacy of a dance-movement-based intervention in slowing down dementia progression, due to its ability to act as a buffer against decline and improve areas affected by dementia. We also anticipate an association between cortisol levels and the outcome measures. The further development of this intervention into a structural program may be warranted for early psychosocial support among elderly populations.

Research Collaborators​
Cheung, J. K. K., Chan, W. C., Cheung, I. K. M., & Lam, L. C. W. (