A Pilot Study on Effects of Learning Therapy for Elderly with Cognitive Impairment at a Hospital Out-patient Setting in Hong Kong

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Abstract Summary


Elongation of population life expectancy leads to increase in the number of people with chronic health issues, including cognitive impairment. In our local Hong Kong population, there were around 103,433 people suffering from dementia in 2009, and it was expected to raise 222% to 332,688 in 2039. Facing the escalating number of people affected by cognitive impairment, exploring affordable and easy-to-use cognitive intervention program is thereby one of the essential approaches in dementia care. Previous studies revealed that learning therapy, using reading aloud and solving arithmetic calculation, can improve cognitive functions including executive functions, verbal episodic memory, processing speed and attention. Studies of learning therapy have only been commenced in Japan, America and Taiwan. Nevertheless, it is not well known whether learning therapy can improve other diverse cognitive and IADL functions, despite cultural difference in Hong Kong.


The objective of this study is to perform a pilot study to examine the effectiveness of Learning Therapy in HK elderly with cognitive impairment. The effects of Learning Therapy on subjects’ cognitive competence and IADL functions were investigated.


We used a single-blinded, quasi-experimental intervention with two groups, learning therapy treatment group and waitlist control group. 22 Hong Kong elderlies were invited to the study, in which 11 of them were assigned to treatment group and 11 of them in control group. In treatment group, participants performed learning therapy for 2 months. Waitlist control group did not participate in the intervention. Diverse cognitive components and instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) functions were measured before and after 2 months intervention period.

Results & Outcome

The present study is the first study investigating learning therapy in local elderly population. The findings of our study suggest a positive treatment effect of learning therapy in cognitive and IADL performance in HK elderly with cognitive impairment. Compared to waitlist control group, results revealed that learning therapy improved attention, language, abstraction and delayed recall as measured by HK-MoCA, attention, initiation/preservation and memory as measured by CDRS, and IADL performance as measured by HKLIADL (All Ps < 0.05). Part of the result was not explored in previous study outside HK, for instance the improvements in language, abstraction and IADL competence. This quasi-experimental study can show the benefits of learning therapy in Hong Kong elderly with cognitive impairment in the perspectives of cognitive and IADL performance. Despite more definitive conclusions might be reached in the future when more large-scaled studies commence, the result would be useful in facilitating future service revamp and clinicians could have more modalities in meeting the needs of elderly with cognitive impairment.



Abstract ID :
Submission Type
HA Staff
Authors (including presenting author) :
Sze MY(1), Tam KF(2), Chan YP(1), To HL(1)
Affiliation :
(1)Occupational Therapy Deaprtment, Hong Kong Buddhist Hospital (2)Deaprtment of Medicine, Hong Kong Buddhist Hospital