Making Sense of Multi-Sensory Environments: A Scoping Review
© 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This article presents a review of studies published between 2006 and 2016 on research into multi-sensory environments (MSEs), as part of a project to develop a community-based MSE. This scoping review aimed to identify the settings MSEs are used in, rationale for implementation, equipment installed and the reported effects of the MSE upon users. The Scopus and Web of Science databases were searched for studies reporting on the applications and effects of MSEs. Thirty-three studies met the inclusion criteria and were allocated to groups based on the population they were designed for. These were mental health, intellectual and developmental disabilities, dementia, traumatic brain injuries and maternity. It was difficult to clearly determine what equipment, specific sensory experiences or patterns of implementation were most effective, due to the wide range of research designs and methodologies employed. Overall MSEs show promise through offering benefits to users with a range of disabilities or other conditions; however further studies are required to develop a stronger evidence base on the reported effects of MSEs for particular user groups. A framework has been proposed to address current inconsistencies in reporting the effectiveness of MSEs, to provide a more uniform approach.