Psychological outcomes of life story work for community-dwelling seniors: A randomised controlled trial

Claudia K.Y. Lai, Kenny C.W. Chin, Yu Zhang, Engle Angela Chan

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background and objective: Life story work has a long tradition in the caring sciences and has been found to serve a number of psychological functions. The effects of life story work on the psychological well-being of community-dwelling older people were examined in this study. Design and methods: For this randomised controlled trial, 244 community-dwelling participants in 17 social centres run by a non-governmental organisation were recruited. The participants were randomly allocated to intervention (n = 124) and control (n = 120) groups. Each member of the intervention group worked with a volunteer to prepare his/her life storybook, while those in the control group participated in a social program. Data were collected at baseline, immediately postintervention, and at three and six months postintervention. The outcomes included measures of life satisfaction, self-esteem, general mental well-being and depressive symptoms. Results: No significant interaction effect was observed between the groups over time, except for an improvement in the general mental well-being of the control group at three months postintervention. Conclusions: A comparison of the findings in the literature showed that some positive results were reported for LSW studies conducted in nursing homes, whereas in community studies, the results were not always positive. Life story work for seniors in the community did not have the same positive outcomes as previously observed among nursing home residents. It is possible that the intervention had a greater effect on more deprived individuals. Community-dwelling seniors can be encouraged to participate in social activities, which apparently can lead to similar outcomes. Implications for practice: Clinicians should not assume that similar interventions can have similar effects when delivered in a different setting. Community-dwelling seniors can be encouraged to participate in social activities, which can also promote psychological wellbeing similar to to the effects of activities related to life story work.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12238
JournalInternational journal of older people nursing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2019


  • autobiography
  • community older people
  • depressive symptomatology
  • intervention study
  • life story
  • personal narratives
  • psychological factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gerontology

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