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DISTINCT project researchers find there is still little evidence available to show that new technologies help people with dementia remain socially active

Friday 05 February 2021

Researchers in the Netherlands have found that until now, there is almost no high-quality scientific evidence that new technologies can help people with dementia remain socially active. In their new paper, published this week in a special issue of the Journal of Clinical Medicine, the researchers report that globally, only nine relevant randomised controlled trials – the gold standard for scientific evidence – have produced published results. Only one of those studies was of good quality: an evaluation of a Korean computer-based cognitive training programme.

This is bad news for healthcare system leaders. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, investment in technologies which claim to help people with dementia is growing rapidly. Many people hope that technology might make up for reduced physical contact and strained resources. But with so little evidence, any investments remain a gamble.

The researchers recommend several ways of improving the quality of evidence in future, so that effective technologies can be recommended and rolled out confidently, on the basis of good evidence for their effectiveness. In the meantime, they warn healthcare leaders to make decisions, about which technologies might help people with dementia, very carefully, on a case-by-case basis. The research has been published online in a special issue of the Journal of Clinical Medicine. The full text can be found here: https://www.mdpi.com/2077-0383/10/4/604

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