Disputation: Benedicte Sørensen Strøm

Benedicte Sørensen Strøm will be defending her dissertation for the degree of PhD, Wednesday September 20, 2017.

Disputation: Benedicte Sørensen Strøm


Sensory stimulation for people with dementia – The effect of the Sonas programme on communication

Trial lecture

The trial lecture's title is Etiske aspekter vedrørende ikke-farmakologiske intervensjoner ved personsentrert pleie av personer med demenssykdom.

Time and place

Wednesday September 20, 2017 in the main auditorium at VID in Oslo (Store auditoriet at Diakonveien 18, VID Oslo, in the basement of the library building).

  • Trial lecture: 10:00 AM
  • Defence of thesis: 12:00 PM

Evaluation committee

  • Professor Per-Olof Sandman, Umeå University, Sweden
  • Professor Camilla Ihlebæk, Norwegian University of Life Sciences
  • Professor emerita Liv Wergeland Sørbye, VID


  • Professor Ellen-Karine Grov (Høgskolen i Oslo og Akershus)
  • Professor emeritus Knut Engedal (Aldring og Helse)

The public defence will be chaired by rector Ingunn Moser

Press release

Sensory stimulation for people with dementia: A randomized controlled study on the effect of the Sonas programme on communication in people with dementia

This PhD project investigated the effect of a multi-sensory stimulation program Sonas and its effect on communication in people with moderate to severe dementia. The study also investigated the correlation between cognitive function and ability to communicate.

The increase in communication difficulties among people living with dementia and their reduced ability to interpret sensory stimulation, emphasize the need to find appropriate interventions to overcome these challenges. A variety of sensory stimulation interventions has been developed; however, neither the effect of these interventions nor their characteristics are clear. In addition, strategies developed to improve communication in people with dementia are limited, as well as tested communication scales to assess their communication ability.

The PhD project consisted of three sub-studies. The first sub-study, which was a literature review including 55 studies, revealed that even though more than half of the studies referred to a theoretical foundation, several had methodological limitations. Even though it was difficult to make an overall conclusion of the effect of using different sensory stimulation approaches, the majority of the music interventions reported a positive effect. However, whether receiving multi-sensory or single-sensory stimulation or attending a group session compared with individual sessions, the possible effect on communication was not sufficiently explored.

The evaluation of the Holden Communication Scale in sub-study 2 revealed that the Holden Communication Scale is a reliable and valid instrument for assessing communication ability in persons with dementia.

Even though no overall effect of the Sonas programme was found in sub-study 3, was the communication ability better in the Sonas group, compared with the reading and control group. The Sonas group also demonstrated an improvement in communication ability during the 24-week treatment period, whereas the reading group showed an almost unchanged communication ability and the control group a decrease in communication ability.


Anja Nieuwenhuis