A proposed matched-pairs, quasi-experimental study examining the effects of group cognitive stimulation therapy for individuals with a learning disability and dementia.

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Background: Individuals with a learning disability (LD) are often at increased risk of developing dementia when compared with individuals from the general population. Timely, person-centred psychosocial interventions are recommended for individuals in this population. Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (CST) is a group-based manualised psychosocial intervention, developed for use in the general population to manage the deterioration of cognitive functioning and quality of life (QoL) often found in dementia populations, and evidenced across cultures. Limited research has investigated the effects of CST for individuals with a learning disability, however preliminary results are positive. This proposed study hoped to develop the evidence base for CST in this population by investigating its effects on cognitive functioning, QoL, and mood for individuals with a learning disability.
Method: This proposed study intended to adopt a matched-pairs, quasi-experimental design. Group-based CST was due to be administered to a treatment group (n = 14) twice weekly for seven weeks. Responses on outcomes of cognitive functioning, QoL and mood across three time points following attendance at a CST group (pre-, post-, and 6-8 weeks follow-up) were to be compared to a control group (n = 14) measured at corresponding time points. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic this proposed study did not take place. A systematic review and meta-analysis of quantitative studies was conducted, examining the effects of CST for the general population. This was used to inform hypothetical findings of the proposed study.
Results of systematic review and meta-analysis: Systematic review results indicate that CST has a positive effect on cognitive functioning, QoL, and mood for the general population. Meta-analysis results quantified some of these effects. CST was found to have a significant close to moderate effect (g = 0.45) on cognitive functioning and a significant small effect (g = 0.19) on QoL. Effect size for the effects of CST on mood could not be calculated due to variation in the outcome measures used for mood throughout the literature.
Hypothetical results of the proposed study: Extrapolating from the systematic review and meta-analysis and considering the preliminary investigation for the effects of CST for individuals with a learning disability, hypothetical results for the proposed study were expected to follow a similar pattern. The hypothetical results were that individuals would improve significantly on measures of cognitive functioning and QoL, while the effects of CST on mood were not possible to hypothesise due to the inconsistencies in the literature and lack of data for the meta-analysis.
Conclusions: The evidence for the use of CST in a learning disability population is currently lacking, although preliminary results are positive and suggest that individuals with a learning disability can benefit from CST. This proposed study hoped to add to the emerging evidence base, although the COVID-19 pandemic meant it could not take place at this time. Nevertheless, this thesis provides an outline and instructions for future use, and still provides implications for clinical practice and future research based on the literature synthesised throughout, including systematic review and meta-analytic data.
Date of Award2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Teesside University
SupervisorAsh Summers (Supervisor)

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