OBJECTIVE: To assess the effectiveness of non-equipment based rehabilitation interventions for older adults with an age-related hearing or visual impairment. DATA SOURCES: We searched PubMed, EMBASE, PsychInfo, CINAHL, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials. REVIEW METHODS: Two authors independently assessed trial eligibility, extracted data and assessed methodological quality. Controlled studies with more than 80% of participants aged >/= 55 years and with rehabilitation interventions either separately or in combination with technical device provision were included. Meta-analyses were undertaken for the primary outcomes: emotional status, functional status, self-efficacy and social participation. All studies were categorized into 3 subgroups of intervention approaches (cognitive restructuring, education, and problem-solving), and subgroup analysis was performed. RESULTS: Fourteen studies were identified: six on hearing impairment and eight on visual impairment, involving 1622 sensory impaired participants (mean age 70). Methodological quality of the studies was modest. Eight studies offered data for meta-analysis. No significant effects in favour of interventions on either emotional or functional status, self-efficacy, or social participation were found. In the subgroup analysis, only the problem-solving approach showed a positive effect on emotional status. CONCLUSIONS: This review found no effects of non-equipment based rehabilitation interventions on emotional and functional status, self-efficacy, and social participation. However, subgroup analysis showed problem-solving as a potential effective approach for positively affecting emotional status.