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EBP Compendium: Summary of Systematic Review

Academy of Neurologic Communication Disorders and Sciences; American Speech-Language-Hearing Association; Department of Veterans Affairs
Evidence-Based Practice Recommendations for Working with Individuals with Dementia: Spaced-Retrieval Training

Hopper, T., Mahendra, N., et al. (2005).
Journal of Medical Speech-Language Pathology, 13(4), xxvii-xxxiv.

Indicators of Review Quality:

The review addresses a clearly focused question Yes
Criteria for inclusion of studies are provided Yes
Search strategy is described in sufficient detail for replication Yes
Included studies are assessed for study quality Yes
Quality assessments are reproducible Yes*

Description: This is a review of quantitative studies that investigated the use of spaced-retrieval (SR) training for individuals with dementia. This review is part of a series of reports from the Academy of Neurologic Communication Disorders and Sciences focused on the assessment and management of individual with Alzheimer-type dementia.

Question(s) Addressed:

  1. Who are the participants who received SR intervention?
  2. What comprises the SR intervention?
  3. What are the outcomes of the SR intervention?
  4. What are key methodological concerns related to the SR intervention studies?
  5. Are there clinically applicable trends across SR intervention studies?

Population: Older adults with dementia (52-96 years)

Intervention/Assessment: Spaced-retrieval training

Number of Studies Included: 15

Years Included: Through September 2002



  • Treatment
    • Cognitive-Communication
      • Restorative Treatments - Spaced Retrieval
        • Findings from the included studies support the use of spaced retrieval training for individuals with dementia.
        • Findings suggest that spaced retrieval training may enhance cognitive-linguistic function. However, little to no change in global cognitive function may be found.
        • "Although the results of the reviewed studies were overwhelmingly positive, methodological shortcomings warrant cautious interpretation of the findings. Lack of specification of participant characteristics decreases generalizability of the findings. Also, more attention must be paid to including interrater reliability judgments in the research examining the efficacy and effectiveness of SR training" (p. xxxii).
        • General findings suggest that appropriate candidates for spaced retrieval are:
          • Individuals with declarative memory impairments ranging from mild to severe.
          • Individuals demonstrating ability to participate in structured training tasks.
          • Individuals with sufficient hearing and vision.
        • Expected outcomes include:
          • "Improvement in the acquisition, retention and generalization of trained information and/or skills" (p. xxxii).
          • Retention of learned information ranging from 1 day to several months post.
          • "Generalization of learned information and/or skills to specific contexts and situations" (p. xxxii).
          • No change in global cognitive or memory performance.
  • Service Delivery
    • Dosage
      • Spaced Retrieval - Implementation of treatment should be weekly or considered "more frequently depending on the nature of the association being learned and the individual characteristics of the client" (p. xxxii).

Keywords: Dementia, Memory

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*Additional details are provided on the ANCDS website.

Added to Compendium: January 2012

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