Open Access Study protocol

The effects of reminiscence therapy on depressive symptoms of Chinese elderly: study protocol of a randomized controlled trial

Ting-ji Chen, Hui-jie Li and Juan Li*

Author Affiliations

Center on Aging Psychology, Key Laboratory of Mental Health, Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

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BMC Psychiatry 2012, 12:189  doi:10.1186/1471-244X-12-189

Published: 5 November 2012



Depression is one of the most common mental disorders with a high prevalence among the older adults. In recent years, after realizing some side effects of the antidepressants, non-pharmacological psychological treatments begin to attract accruing attention. Reminiscence therapy is one of the psychological treatments that specially designed for the elderly to improve their mental health status by recalling and assessing their existing memory. Though some studies indicate reminiscence therapy can be effective and beneficial for the mental health of elderly, the conclusions are not consistent yet. The aim of this research is to assess the effectiveness of reminiscence therapy for Chinese elderly.


Sixty older adults (≥60 years of age) with mild to moderate depression will be randomly assigned to an experimental or a control condition. The participants in the experiment group will receive the reminiscence therapy under the Watt’s protocol with adaptation to Chinese Culture which consists of six weekly sessions of 90 minutes each. The control group will be treated as before. An assessor who is blind to intervention will conduct the measures before treatment, after treatment immediately, and three months after treatment.


This study will provide the evidence whether the reminiscence therapy is effective to treat depressive symptoms of Chinese elderly. This research has been registered in the (NCT01553669).