A pilot study to evaluate the effectiveness of an individualized and cognitive behavioural communication intervention for informal carers of people with dementia: the Talking Sense programme

Colin J. Barnes, Chris Markham

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Abstract

Background - People with dementia and family carers often experience difficulties communicating together. These difficulties are considered to contribute significantly to the depression, anxiety and negative feelings such as guilt often reported by dementia family carers.

Aims - To develop and contribute to the theory and evidence base for single-component, psychosocial interventions that address these difficulties by evaluating the effectiveness of the Talking Sense programme which was designed to reflect existing best evidence.

Methods & Procedures - Talking Sense was delivered as an individualized, one to one, cognitive behavioural approach for developing knowledge, skills, thinking and behaviour of dementia family carers in managing communication difficulties. In this study, a randomized controlled trial compared 27 carers who completed three one-to-one individualized sessions using Talking Sense with 25 carers who received a single, knowledge-only, control discussion.

Outcomes & Results - There were no significant differences for the primary outcome measure of carer anxiety and depression as well as carer quality of life and general self-efficacy. Statistically significant results suggested carers receiving the Talking Sense intervention had fewer communication difficulties happening (p = 0.046) and felt more valued by their relatives (p = 0.046). A score close to significance (p = 0.052) suggested they perceived their relatives to be more communicatively competent.

Conclusions & Implications - The intervention and research design were shown to be effective with low attrition and high adherence to treatment. A non-significant finding for the primary outcome measure does not support the potential for this intervention to effect carer anxiety and depression. The potential for perceived change in the person with dementia, with statistically fewer communication difficulties happening and the carer feeling more valued by their relative, was the most significant finding from this programme of research. Recommendations for further research are made.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)615-627
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Language & Communication Disorders
Volume53
Issue number3
Early online date20 Feb 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018

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