‘Exergaming’ may help those at risk of Alzheimer’s or related dementias

Older adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) showed significant improvement with certain complex thinking and memory skills after exergaming (video games that also require physical exercise) | Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience | via ScienceDaily

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The results of a new study could encourage health care providers to pursue or prescribe exergames (video games that also require physical exercise) in hopes of slowing the debilitating effects of those with MCI, sometimes a stage between normal brain aging and dementia.

Previously published research had found that seniors who exercise using the features of interactive video games experienced greater cognitive health benefits than those who rely on traditional exercise alone.

For the latest study, researchers wanted to target older adults diagnosed with or at risk for MCI.  Researchers initially enrolled more than 100 seniors for the study. Over six months, 14 (evenly split between men and women) persisted with regular exergaming. The average age was 78.

The first group of seven was assigned to pedal along a scenic virtual reality bike path several times a week. The second group was given a more challenging task for the brain: pedal while playing a video game that included chasing dragons and collecting coins.

The results were compared against data collected from a separate group of eight seniors who played video games on a laptop but did not pedal, and also a group from the previous research who only rode a traditional stationary bike with no gaming component.

At the end of the randomized clinical trial, participants in both the group that pedaled along a virtual bike path and those that chased dragons and collected coins experienced significantly better executive function, which controls, in part, multi-tasking and decision making.

Benefits for both groups were also seen for verbal memory and physical function, suggesting it may be worth the effort for seniors to incorporate exergaming into a daily exercise regime.

The authors acknowledged that further research with a larger sample size is needed to confirm the team’s findings.  In the meantime, the research suggests benefits of exercising while also stimulating the brain with some mental challenge, such as navigating a scenic bike path or interactively playing a video game.

Full story at ScienceDaily

Full reference: Anderson-Hanley, C . et al. The Aerobic and Cognitive Exercise Study (ACES) for Community-Dwelling Older Adults With or At-Risk for Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI): Neuropsychological, Neurobiological and Neuroimaging Outcomes of a Randomized Clinical TrialFrontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 2018; 10

 

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Interventions to reduce social isolation and loneliness among older people

Loneliness and social isolation are major problems for older adults. Interventions and activities aimed at reducing social isolation and loneliness are widely advocated as a solution to this growing problem.

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The aim of this study was to conduct an integrative review to identify the range and scope of interventions that target social isolation and loneliness among older people, to gain insight into why interventions are successful and to determine the effectiveness of those interventions.

Six electronic databases were searched from 2003 until January 2016 for literature relating to interventions with a primary or secondary outcome of reducing or preventing social isolation and/or loneliness among older people.

The review identified 38 studies. A range of interventions were described which relied on differing mechanisms for reducing social isolation and loneliness. The majority of interventions reported some success in reducing social isolation and loneliness, but the quality of evidence was generally weak.

Factors which were associated with the most effective interventions included adaptability, a community development approach, and productive engagement.

A wide range of interventions have been developed to tackle social isolation and loneliness among older people. However, the quality of the evidence base is weak and further research is required to provide more robust data on the effectiveness of interventions. Furthermore, there is an urgent need to further develop theoretical understandings of how successful interventions mediate social isolation and loneliness.

Gardiner, C.  Geldenhuys, G.  Gott, M | Interventions to reduce social isolation and loneliness among older people: an integrative review | Health and Social Care in the Community | Volume26, Issue2 | March 2018 | pages 147-157

Effectiveness of interventions to reduce homelessness

This review assesses the effectiveness of interventions combining housing and case management as a means to reduce homelessness and increase residential stability for individuals who are homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless | Campbell Collaboration

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Image source: http://www.campbellcollaboration.org

Authors found that a range of housing programs and case management interventions appear to reduce homelessness and improve housing stability, compared to usual services. The findings showed no indication of housing programs or case management resulting in poorer outcomes for homeless or at-risk individuals than usual services.

Full document: Effectiveness of interventions to reduce homelessness: a systematic review and meta-analysis | Campbell Collaboration | 2018 (3)

Effectiveness of school-based mental health services

Broad evidence now supports the potential of school-based services delivered by teachers and other school-based professionals to help reduce mental health problems in elementary-aged children | Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry | via ScienceDaily

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Teachers and other school-based professionals can help reduce children’s mental health problems in elementary-aged children, reports a study published in the March 2018 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP).

The findings are based on a meta-analysis of 43 controlled trials that collectively had almost 50,000 elementary-aged children participate in school-based mental health services. The researchers examined the overall effectiveness of school-based mental health services, as well as the relative effectiveness of various school-based intervention models that differed according to treatment target, format, and intensity.

In addition to supporting the overall effectiveness of school-based mental health care, follow-up analyses revealed that school-based services targeting child behavior problems were particularly effective, relative to services targeting child attention problems, mood and anxiety problems, or substance use. Moreover, treatments that were implemented multiple times per week were more than twice as effective as treatments that were only implemented on a weekly (or less) basis.

Full story at ScienceDaily

Full reference: Sanchez, A. L. et al. | The Effectiveness of School-Based Mental Health Services for Elementary-Aged Children: A Meta-Analysis |  Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry | 2018; 57 (3): 153

Evaluating weight management interventions

Evidence-based guidance to support the evaluation of weight management interventions | Public Health England

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This document is an update of the ‘Standard Evaluation Framework (SEF) for weight management interventions’, (2009) which was originally published by the National Obesity Observatory, and is now widely used across England.

It has been updated as a result of feedback from practitioners in the field following a consultation exercise, and to provide support for the Weight management: guidance for commissioners and providers collection.

The document contains a list of ‘essential’ and ‘desirable’ criteria for data required for a comprehensive and robust evaluation. Essential criteria are the minimum data and information recommended to perform a basic evaluation of a weight management intervention. Desirable criteria are additional data that would improve the quality of an evaluation; and enhance understanding about what has been achieved and the processes that have taken place during the intervention.

Full document: Standard evaluation framework for weight management interventions

Community-based interventions for the treatment of overweight and obese adolescents

This systematic review aims to evaluate recent effective and scalable community-based weight management programs for adolescents (13–17 years) who are overweight or obese | Obesity Reviews

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Adolescent obesity is a risk factor for obesity and other chronic disease in adulthood. Evidence for the effectiveness of community-based obesity treatment programs for adolescents is required to inform policy and clinical decisions.

Eight databases (Medline, Embase, PsycINFO, CINAHL, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Informit, and Scopus) were searched for studies published between January 2011–2 March 2017 which are scalable in a community setting and reported primary outcome measures relating to weight.

Following deduplication, 10,074 records were screened by title/abstract with 31 publications describing 21 programs included in this review. Reduction in adolescent BMIz ranged from 2 to 9% post-program and from 2 to 11% after varied lengths of follow-up. Study quality varied, and findings are limited by the risk of selection and retention bias in the included studies. Factors including the effectiveness and acceptability to the target population must be considered when selecting such community programs.

Full reference: Moores, J. et al. | A systematic review of community-based interventions for the treatment of adolescents with overweight and obesity | Obesity Reviews | 17 January 2018

New research shows the benefit of bullying interventions in schools

Study explores the long-term social and economic impact of effective bullying interventions implemented in primary schools.

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MQ: Transforming Mental Health have published a report which finds that the implementation of evidence-based school bullying interventions could prevent over 24,000 cases of bullying each year.  This would significantly improve the mental health of thousands of young people, and save the UK economy £348 million per year group. This represents a  return on investment for £146 for every £1 invested in implementing a proven model.

The economic model uses data from the 1958 Birth Cohort on outcomes associated with childhood bullying to estimate the potential short- and long-term benefits of effective anti-bullying interventions in schools.

The report highlights that with such clear evidence pointing to the link between bullying and mental illness, it’s vital that schools receive support from both the government and public funding to rollout evidence-based schemes to tackle it.

Full report: The Economic Case for Prevention in Young People’s Mental Health: Bullying Personal Social Services Research Unit (PSSRU) | London School of Economics and Political Science | MQ: Transforming Mental Health