Objectives: This study integrated results from controlled trials of reminiscence interventions. Methods: Meta-analysis was used to aggregate results from 128 studies on nine outcome variables. Results: Compared to non-specific changes in control-group members, moderate improvements were observed at posttest with regard to ego-integrity (g = 0.64) and depression (g = 0.57 standard deviation units). Small effects were found on purpose in life (g = 0.48), death preparation (g = 0.40), mastery (g = 0.40), mental health symptoms (g = 0.33), positive well-being (g = 0.33), social integration (g = 0.31), and cognitive performance (g = 0.24). Most effects were maintained at follow-up. We observed larger improvements of depressive symptoms in depressed individuals (g = 1.09) and persons with chronic physical disease (g = 0.94) than in other individuals, and in those receiving life-review therapy (g = 1.28) rather than life-review or simple reminiscence. Moderating effects of the control condition were also detected.
Conclusions: Reminiscence interventions affect a broad range of outcomes, and therapeutic as well as preventive effects are similar to those observed in other frequently used interventions.