Background: There is an urgent clinical need for evidence-based psychosocial interventions for people with mild dementia. We aimed to determine the clinical benefits and cost-effectiveness of Journeying through Dementia (JtD), an intervention designed to promote wellbeing and independence in people with mild dementia. Methods: We did a single-blind, parallel group, individually randomised, phase 3 trial at 13 National Health Service sites across England. People with mild dementia (Mini-Mental State Examination score of ≥18) who lived in the community were eligible for inclusion. Patients were centrally randomly assigned (1:1) to receive the JtD intervention plus standard care (JtD group) or standard care only (standard care group). Randomisation was stratified by study site. The JtD intervention included 12 group and four one-to-one sessions, delivered in the community at each site. The primary endpoint was Dementia Related Quality of Life (DEMQOL) 8 months after randomisation, assessed according to the intention-to-treat principle. Only outcome assessors were masked to group assignment. A cost-effectiveness analysis reported cost per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) from a UK NHS and social care perspective. The study is registered with ISRCTN, ISRCTN17993825. Findings: Between Nov 30, 2016, and Aug 31, 2018, 1183 patients were screened for inclusion, of whom 480 (41%) participants were randomly assigned: 241 (50%) to the JtD group and 239 (50%) to the standard care group. Intervention adherence was very good: 165 (68%) of 241 participants in the JtD group attended at least ten of the 16 sessions. Mean DEMQOL scores at 8 months were 93·3 (SD 13·0) for the JtD group and 91·9 (SD 14·6) for the control group. Difference in means was 0·9 (95% CI –1·2 to 3·0; p=0·38) after adjustment for covariates, lower than that identified as clinically meaningful. Incremental cost per QALY ranged from £88 000 to –£205 000, suggesting that JtD was not cost-effective. Unrelated serious adverse events were reported by 40 (17%) patients in the JtD group and 35 (15%) patients in the standard care group. Interpretation: In common with other studies, the JtD intervention was not proven effective. However, this complex trial successfully recruited and retained people with dementia without necessarily involving carers. Additionally, people with dementia were actively involved as participants and study advisers throughout. More research into methods of measuring small, meaningful changes in this population is needed. Questions remain regarding how services can match the complex, diverse, and individual needs of people with mild dementia, and how interventions to meet such needs can be delivered at scale. Funding: UK National Institute of Health Research Health Technology Assessment Programme.
The Lancet Healthy Longevity, Volume 3, April 2022,