Plain English Summary
Background and study aims
Dementia is a common condition in the aging population. People with dementia have difficulties with mental processes such as memory, language, reasoning and identifying people and objects, which become progressively worse over time. Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia. It is a growing problem worldwide, affecting millions of people over the age of 60. In some previous research it was found that the way in which information is given about a diagnosis of dementia affects how well this information is remembered. Another study showed that recalling past memories can improve how people feel about themselves, for example by increasing self-esteem. The aim of this study is to combine these two projects to see whether recalling a past memory beforehand leads to better recall of information about an illness.
Who can participate?
Patients who have recently been diagnosed with dementia.
What does the study involve?
Participants are randomly allocated to one of two groups. Those in the first group are asked to remember a nostalgic memory and those in the second group are asked to remember an ordinary event in the past. All participants complete questionnaires asking them about how they feel before taking part in a memory test. This involves a researcher reading out 24 illness-related statements in four blocks of six and participants are asked to remember as many as possible after each block.
What are the possible benefits and risks of participating?
There are no direct benefits for participants taking part. There are no major risks in taking part in this study. Some of the statements to remember might be upsetting to some people but the researcher will support the participant if this happens. The participant will be fully debriefed after the study and the researcher will ensure the participant is feeling ok before finishing the appointment.
Where is the study run from?
The RICE Centre (UK)
When is the study starting and how long is it expected to run for?
April 2016 to May 2017
Who is funding the study?
Alzheimer’s Research UK (UK)
Who is the main contact?
Professor Richard Cheston
A feasibility study to test whether using past memories to increase psychological resources leads to better recall of information about dementia
1. Participants in the nostalgia (vs. control) condition will recall a higher proportion of high threatening dementia related statements compared to less threatening statements
2. Participants in the nostalgia (vs. control) condition will have higher self-esteem, social connectedness, and meaning in life
3. Recall of highly threatening statements in the nostalgia condition (vs control) will not be associated with increased levels of anxiety
4. There will be no differences in recognition between participants in the nostalgia and control arms
5. Participants in the nostalgia (vs control) condition will make fewer protective compared to threatening intrusion errors
East of Scotland Research Ethics Service REC 2, 30/08/2016, ref: 16/ES/0097
Randomised; Interventional; Design type: Process of Care, Psychological & Behavioural
Primary study design
Secondary study design
Randomised controlled trial
Patient information sheet
See additional files
Specialty: Dementias and neurodegeneration, Primary sub-specialty: Dementia; UKCRC code/ Disease: Neurological/ Other degenerative diseases of the nervous system
Participants will be randomly allocated to either the intervention condition (n=15) or the control condition (n=15).
Intervention condition: Participants will be instructed to bring to mind a nostalgic memory
Control condition: Participants will be instructed to bring to mind an ordinary event in the past
Participants in both groups will complete questionnaires to measure psychological resources and complete a nostalgia manipulation check. Next participants will take part in the memory test; the recall of 24 statements related to dementia. From previous research half have been rated as high threat to identity and half rated as low threat to identity. These will be read out in four groups of six statements. Recall will be assessed immediately after each of the four groups and after a two-minute distracter task. Finally a recognition test will follow in which participants are provided with 48 statements and asked to identify the 24 they have previously heard. This research takes place within one session and lasts for approximately 45 minutes.
Primary outcome measure
Number of highly threatening and low threatening related statements recalled is measured by counting the correct number of statements recalled the single study appointment.
Secondary outcome measures
All outcomes are measured at the single study appointment.
1. Psychological resources are measured using State Functions of Nostalgia Scale
2. Recognition is measured by counting the number of correct statements participants recognise from a list of statements they have and haven’t heard previously
3. Intrusion errors (protective of self/threatening to self) are measured by counting the number of errors participants make in recall (protective error = valence reversal of high threat statements, repetition of low threat statements; threatening error = valence reversal of low threat statements, repetition of high threat statements)
Overall trial start date
Overall trial end date
Reason abandoned (if study stopped)
Participant inclusion criteria
1. A diagnosis made within the previous 18 months of either probable Alzheimer’s disease or probable Vascular Dementia or a mixed form of these
3. Mild levels of cognitive impairment (e.g. MOCA score over 12 or equivalent score on an alternative assessment tool)
3. The capacity to consent to be part of the research
4. Sufficient communication skills to be able to take part in the research
5. Aged 18 years and over
Target number of participants
Planned Sample Size: 30; UK Sample Size: 30
Participant exclusion criteria
1. A significant history of premorbid psychiatric problems
2. A diagnosis of dementia with Lewy Bodies (McKeith, 2002) or Frontaltemporal dementia (Snowden, Neary and Mann (2002))
3. If deficits in short term memory are not a primary cause of disability
Recruitment start date
Recruitment end date
Countries of recruitment
Trial participating centre
The RICE Centre
Building 8 Royal United Hospital Combe Park
University of the West of England
+44 (0)117 965 6261
Alzheimer’s Research UK
Funding Body Type
private sector organisation
Funding Body Subtype
Other non-profit organizations
Results and Publications
Publication and dissemination plan
Participants will be offered the option of being sent a summary of the results at the end of the study. Where funds allow, the protocol will be published and the findings from this study will be published in high quality open access journals with good impact factor. Findings will be presented at conferences. The trial management team will liaise with the university’s press team to establish an appropriate mechanism to disseminate to the wider public.
IPD sharing plan:
The current data sharing plans for the current study are unknown and will be made available at a later date.
Intention to publish date
Participant level data
To be made available at a later date
Basic results (scientific)
2018 results in: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30149444
- ISRCTN78958013_PIS_16Aug16_V02.pdf Uploaded 16/11/2016