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Interventions for communication in moderate–severe dementia (Swan et al., 2018)

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posted on 19.03.2018 by Katina Swan, Marie Hopper, Rachel Wenke, Claire Jackson, Tracy Till, Erin Conway
Purpose: The purpose of this study is to evaluate the evidence for direct and indirect interventions for communication in people with moderate–severe dementia.
Method: A systematic search of the literature was conducted, as per the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysed guidelines, across 8 electronic databases. Studies were included if they included direct or indirect interventions, which could be administered by a speech-language pathologist to people with moderate–severe dementia (defined as having Mini-Mental State Examination of ≤ 15; Folstein, Folstein, & McHugh, 1975). Studies also were required to include outcome measures, which reported on communication function or participation and/or well-being related to communication. Included studies were evaluated for methodological quality using the McMaster critical appraisal tool (Law et al., 1998).
Results: Eleven studies met the inclusion criteria. Ten of these studies related to direct interventions and included cognitive stimulation approaches using group (n = 5) or individual therapy (n = 1); cognitive training, including naming therapy (n = 1) and spaced retrieval training (n = 1); and cognitive rehabilitation approaches using augmentative and alternative communication (n = 2). One study reported an indirect intervention: conversation partner training. Due
to the heterogeneity of studies, a meta-analysis was unable to be conducted. A descriptive synthesis of results indicated that interventions generally resulted in positive changes to communication and related quality-of-life outcomes compared with baseline or control groups.
Conclusions: Preliminary evidence was found to support communication interventions for people with moderate–severe dementia. The use of cognitive stimulation approaches, which use a group treatment model and conversation, as a therapy medium show promise as direct intervention options. Implications for clinical practice for speech-language pathologists and future research are discussed.

Supplemental Material S1. Search strategy.

Swan, K., Hopper, M., Wenke, R., Jackson, C., Till, T., & Conway, E. (2018). Speech-language pathologist interventions for communication in moderate–severe dementia: A systematic review. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 27, 836–852. https://doi.org/10.1044/2017_AJSLP-17-0043

Funding

This work was supported by the Gold Coast Hospital and Health Service (GCHHS) Allied Health clinical backfill funding scheme and the GCHHS Speech Pathology Service.

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