Using YouTube for Reminiscence Therapy (RT)

Reminiscence Therapy (RT) is a popular psychosocial intervention used with dementia patients enacted in a group setting. RT involves discussion of past experiences, often facilitated by pictures and other mementos. Although there is limited evidence of RT’s efficacy when used for specific cognitive issues, previous studies have found some benefit of RT for patient mood and caregiver strain. Recently, a research letter in Age and Ageing presented some interesting findings regarding the use of YouTube to facilitate RT. The letter specifies it is the pilot stage of a trial, but suggests that the website’s database of videos—which offers a wide range of subject matter and can be easily accessed by anyone—may be useful for RT.

This study was designed to assess the feasibility of using YouTube for RT among hospitalized patients with mild-to-moderate dementia. The researchers recruited six participants diagnosed with different subtypes of dementia to participate in 12 sessions over a period of six weeks. The sessions, which lasted about an hour, used preselected video clips based on a questionnaire filled out by participants’ family members. Although the number of participants is too small to draw any generalized conclusions, each participant and their family members reported improved well-being, mood, and quality of life. Further, the sessions led to increased social interaction, and the video clips were effective at engaging the participants. No adverse outcomes were observed.

This suggests that YouTube is a potential resource for the facilitation of RT, and may also be used to establish future evidence of RT’s efficacy for cognitive and mood outcomes. Time investment in setting up a user account is minimal for facilitators, and facilitators and participants were able to quickly find videos based on new topics and ideas. YouTube and other online resources may be useful for program facilitators looking for flexible, adaptable, patient-led media to encourage reminiscence and other group experience.


O’Rourke, J., Tobin, F., O’Callaghan, S.O., Sowman, R., and Collins, D.R. (2011). “‘YouTube’: A Useful Tool for Reminiscence Therapy in Dementia?” Age and Ageing 2011.


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