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The effects of holistic health group interventions on improving the cognitive ability of persons with mild cognitive impairment: a randomized controlled trial

Authors Young KW, Ng P, Kwok T, Cheng D

Received 18 May 2017

Accepted for publication 9 July 2017

Published 25 September 2017 Volume 2017:12 Pages 1543—1552

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/CIA.S142109

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Lucy Goodman

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Wu


Kim-wan Young,1 Petrus Ng,1 Timothy Kwok,2 Daphne Cheng1

1Department of Social Work, Hong Kong Baptist University, Kowloon Tong, 2Department of Medicine (Geriatric Division), Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Purpose: Persons with mild cognitive impairment (PwMCI) are at a higher risk of developing dementia than those without cognitive impairment. This research study aims to evaluate the effectiveness of a holistic health group intervention, which is based on the holistic brain health approach as well as an Eastern approach to health care, on improving the cognitive ability of Chinese PwMCI.
Research methods: In a randomized controlled trial (RCT), 38 Chinese PwMCI were randomly assigned to either a 10-session holistic health intervention group or the control group. The holistic health treatment group attempted to promote the acceptance of their illness, enhance memory and coping skills, develop a positive lifestyle, maintain positive emotions, and facilitate emotional support among participants. The 10-session holistic health group intervention was structured, with each session conducted once per week and ~90 minutes in length. Control group patients and their family caregivers received standardized basic educational materials that provided basic information on cognitive decline for them to read at home. The Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) test was used to assess the cognitive ability of PwMCI in the pre- and posttreatment periods by a research assistant who was blind to the group assignment of the participants.
Results: The paired-samples t-test indicated that the treatment group (n=18) showed significant improvement in the MoCA score, whereas the control group (n=20) did not. Moreover, 2×2 (group × time) repeated-measures analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) demonstrated that the holistic health group treatment was significantly more effective than the control intervention in improving the MoCA score, with a moderate effect size, and improving the delayed recall (ie, short-term memory), with a strong effect size, after controlling for age, sex, education, and marital status.
Conclusion: This present RCT provides evidence to support the feasibility and effectiveness of the holistic health group intervention in improving the cognitive and short-term memory abilities of PwMCI.

Keywords: mild cognitive impairment, cognitive training, cognitive ability, short-term memory, Montreal Cognitive Assessment, holistic health group

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