Non-Pharmacologic Interventions for Older Adults with Subjective Cognitive Decline: Systematic Review, Meta-Analysis, and Preliminary Recommendations

Subjective Cognitive Decline Initiative (SCD-I) Working Group

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


In subjective cognitive decline (SCD), older adults present with concerns about self-perceived cognitive decline but are found to have clinically normal function. However, a significant proportion of those adults are subsequently found to develop mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s dementia or other neurocognitive disorder. In other cases, SCD may be associated with mood, personality, and physical health concerns. Regardless of etiology, adults with SCD may benefit from interventions that could enhance current function or slow incipient cognitive decline. The objective of this systematic review and meta-analysis, conducted in accordance with the PRISMA guidelines, is to examine the benefits of non-pharmacologic intervention (NPI) in persons with SCD. Inclusion criteria were studies of adults aged 55 + with SCD defined using published criteria, receiving NPI or any control condition, with cognitive, behavioural, or psychological outcomes in controlled trails. Published empirical studies were obtained through a standardized search of CINAHL Complete, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, MEDLINE with Full Text, PsycINFO, and PsycARTICLES, supplemented by a manual retrieval of relevant articles. Study quality and bias was determined using PEDro. Nine studies were included in the review and meta-analysis. A wide range of study quality was observed. Overall, a small effect size was found on cognitive outcomes, greater for cognitive versus other intervention types. The available evidence suggests that NPI may benefit current cognitive function in persons with SCD. Recommendations are provided to improve future trials of NPI in SCD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-257
Number of pages13
JournalNeuropsychology Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2017


CMS was supported by the Alzheimer Society of Canada (Young Investigator Award #1216). CH was supported by a Salary Award (Chercheur-boursier, Senior) from the Fonds de Recherche du Qu?bec?Sant?. AT was supported by BRACE-Alzheimer?s Research (Registered Charity 297965). HH is supported by the AXA Research Fund, the Fondation Universit? Pierre et Marie Curie and the ?Fondation pour la Recherche sur Alzheimer? , Paris, France. The research leading to these results has received funding from the program?Investissements d?avenir? ANR-10-IAIHU-06. The authors are grateful to Dr. Simone Lista for research assistance with completion of this study.

FundersFunder number
BRACE-Alzheimer’s Research297965
Fondation Université Pierre et Marie Curie
Fondation pour la Recherche sur Alzheimer
Investissements d’avenirANR-10-IAIHU-06
Alzheimer Society1216
Fonds de Recherche du Québec - Santé
AXA Research Fund


    • Alzheimer’s disease
    • Cognitive interventions
    • Complementary therapies
    • Mild cognitive impairment
    • Treatment outcome


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