A randomised controlled study to explore the effect of life story review on depression in older Chinese in Singapore

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Abstract

There is little evidence to support the efficacy of the life storybook creation process, which incorporates the use of narratives, in mediating depression levels. The study aimed to examine the effects of the life storybook creation process on depressive symptoms among older community-dwelling Chinese adults in Singapore. A randomised controlled trial was conducted from January 2011 to March 2012. Twenty-six Chinese aged over 60 years, who were able to communicate in Chinese and/or English, and with mild to severe depression were randomly allocated to either the life storybook (intervention) group (n = 14) or the non-life storybook (control) group (n = 12). Subjects in the intervention group were interviewed on a one to one basis on five sessions over 8 weeks. Depressive symptoms were measured using the Geriatric Depression Scale. Generalised estimating equations were used to examine the effects of the intervention on the elderly peoples’ depression level. Significant reductions in depression scores were found in the intervention group from baseline (mean 7.9 [SD 3.0]) to week 8 (2.5 [1.7], χ2 = 15.25, P < 0.001). At week 8, the intervention group showed a lower level of depression than the control (χ2 = 4.33, P = 0.037). This study supports the life storybook creation process as an effective intervention for depressed older Chinese adults living in the community. The findings suggest that this intervention may enhance the quality of care provided by healthcare providers as the therapeutic relationship between provider and client is being established.

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