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An evaluation of shared reading groups for adults living with dementia: preliminary findings

Eleanor Longden (Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK)
Philip Davis (Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK and Centre for Research into Reading, Literature and Society, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK)
Janine Carroll (Department of Psychology, University of Chester, Chester, UK)
Josie Billington (Centre for Research into Reading, Literature and Society, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK)
Peter Kinderman (Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK)

Journal of Public Mental Health

ISSN: 1746-5729

Article publication date: 20 June 2016

Abstract

Purpose

Although there is a growing evidence base for the value of psychosocial and arts-based strategies for enhancing well-being amongst adults living with dementia, relatively little attention has been paid to literature-based interventions. The purpose of this paper is to assess the impact of shared reading (SR) groups, a programme developed and implemented by The Reader Organisation, on quality of life for care home residents with mild/moderate dementia.

Design/methodology/approach

In total, 31 individuals were recruited from four care homes, which were randomly assigned to either reading-waiting groups (three months reading, followed by three months no reading) or waiting-reading groups (three months no reading, followed by three months reading). Quality of life was assessed by the DEMQOL-Proxy and psychopathological symptoms were assessed by the Neuropsychiatric Inventory Questionnaire.

Findings

Compared to the waiting condition, the positive effects of SR on quality of life were demonstrated at the commencement of the reading groups and were maintained once the activity ended. Low levels of baseline symptoms prevented analyses on whether the intervention impacted on the clinical signs of dementia.

Research limitations/implications

Limitations included the small sample and lack of control for confounding variables.

Originality/value

The therapeutic potential of reading groups is discussed as a positive and practical intervention for older adults living with dementia.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This evaluation was commissioned by NHS North West to assess the effects of SR in care homes, developing out of the earlier report “A Literature-Based Intervention for Older People Living with Dementia” commissioned by the Headley Trust.

Citation

Longden, E., Davis, P., Carroll, J., Billington, J. and Kinderman, P. (2016), "An evaluation of shared reading groups for adults living with dementia: preliminary findings", Journal of Public Mental Health, Vol. 15 No. 2, pp. 75-82. https://doi.org/10.1108/JPMH-06-2015-0023

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited