Tolson D and Schofield I. Nursing Inquiry 2012; 19: 63–70 Football reminiscence for men with dementia: lessons from a realistic evaluation
A major challenge of studies of non pharmacological dementia interventions is the likely modest intervention effect size and difficulties collecting data from individuals with behavioural, psychological and communicative symptoms. The reported Realist Evaluation is built around sets of contextually comparable case studies of Football Focussed Reminiscence for men with dementia. The study aim was to evaluate benefits of football related reminiscence for individuals and family carers. Four case studies were constructed; two community groups, one nursing home groups and individual sessions within their family home. Data was collected as field notes from non-participation observation of reminiscence sessions, notes of conversations with people with dementia, audio recorded interviews with family members, facilitators and dementia link workers. The analysis was framed around identification and extraction of data pertaining to Context-Mechanism-Outcome configurations within each data set, and patterns and threads were compared across the cases. An important finding was that anticipation of pleasure in tandem with a sense of continuity appeared to be important mechanisms triggering optimal benefit. The paper explores design considerations, project delivery experiences and the contribution that innovative theory driven research adds to the study of complex interventions including those with behavioural and communicative symptoms of dementia.