Evaluating physical activity in dementia: a systematic review of outcomes to inform the development of a core outcome set

Ana Carolina Goncalves, Joana Cruz, Alda Marques, Sara Demain, Dinesh Samuel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Background: Physical activity is recommended for people living with dementia, but evidence for the positive effects of physical activity is limited by the use of heterogeneous outcomes and measurement tools. This systematic literature review aimed to summarise previously reported outcomes and identify the measurement tools used most frequently in physical activity interventions for people with dementia.

Methods: Literature searches were conducted in April 2015, on Delphis and Medline. Qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods studies reporting on any type of physical activity, in any setting, across types of dementia, stages of disease progression and published from 2005 onwards were included. A content analysis approach was used to report on the frequency of reported outcomes and measurement tools.

Results: The 130 included studies reported on 133 different outcome domains and 267 different measurement tools. ‘Functional abilities and independence’ (n = 69), ‘Global cognitive function’ (n = 65), ‘Balance’ (n = 43), ‘Global behavioural symptoms of dementia’ (n = 42) and ‘Health-related quality of life’ (n = 40) were the most frequently reported outcome domains. ‘Enjoyment’ was the outcome most frequently sought by patients and carers.

Conclusion: The need for the development and implementation of a Core Outcome Set has been reinforced. Ahead of the completion of the Core Outcome Set, researchers and clinicians are advised to measure the impact of physical activity interventions on these frequently reported outcome domains.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-41
Number of pages8
JournalAge and Ageing
Issue number1
Early online date9 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • physical activity
  • dementia
  • outcomes
  • measurement tools
  • core outcome set
  • systematic review
  • older people


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