Systematic review of systematic reviews of non-pharmacological interventions to treat behavioural disturbances in older patients with dementia.The SENATOR-OnTop series.


Abstract. Objective: To provide an overview of non-pharmacological interventions for behavioural and psychological symptoms in dementia (BPSD).
Design Systematic overview of reviews:
Data sources. PubMed, EMBASE, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, CINAHL and PsycINFO (2009–March 2015).
Eligibility criteria. Systematic reviews (SRs) that included at least one comparative study evaluating any non-pharmacological intervention, to treat BPSD.
Data extraction. Eligible studies were selected and data extracted independently by 2 reviewers. The AMSTAR checklist was used to assess the quality of the SRs.
Data analysis. Extracted data were synthesised using a narrative approach.
Results. 38 SRs and 142 primary studies were identified, comprising the following categories of non- pharmacological interventions: (1) sensory stimulation interventions (12 SRs, 27 primary studies) that encompassed: acupressure, aromatherapy, massage/touch therapy, light therapy and sensory garden; (2) cognitive/emotion-oriented interventions (33 SRs; 70 primary studies) that included cognitive stimulation, music/dance therapy, dance therapy, snoezelen, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, reminiscence therapy, validation therapy, simulated presence therapy; (3) behaviour management techniques (6 SRs; 32 primary studies) and (4) other therapies (5 SRs, 12 primary studies) comprising exercise therapy, animal-assisted therapy, special care unit and dining room environment-based interventions. Music therapy was effective in reducing agitation (SMD, -0.49; 95% CI -0.82 to -0.17; ), and anxiety (SMD, -0.64; 95% CI -1.05 to -0.24; ). Home-based behavioural management techniques, caregiver-based interventions or staff training in communication skills, person- centred care or dementia care mapping with supervision during implementation were found to be effective for symptomatic and severe agitation.
Conclusions. A large number of non-pharmacological interventions for BPSD were identified. The majority of the studies had great variation in how the same type of intervention was defined and applied, the follow-up duration, the type of outcome measured, usually with modest sample size. Overall, music therapy and behavioural management techniques were effective for reducing BPSD.

Research Collaborators​
Rimland, J. M., Trotta, F. M., Dell'Aquila, G., Cruz-Jentoft, A., Petrovic, M., ... & Cherubini, A.