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Evidence Summary

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Communication-training interventions can improve family and professional carers’ knowledge and communication skills

Morris L, Horne M, McEvoy P, et al.  Communication training interventions for family and professional carers of people living with dementia: A systematic review of effectiveness, acceptability and conceptual basis  Aging & Mental Health. 2017:1-18.

Review question

  • Does communication training improve knowledge, communication skills and overall well-being for family and professional carers of people living with dementia?

Background

  • Carers and people living with dementia often have difficulty communicating due to cognitive impairments.
  • Recent studies have shown that communication problems can lead to negative physical and emotional effects on both carers and people living with dementia.
  • Communication training is a promising solution to improve the health and mental well-being of carers and people living with dementia.

How the review was done

  • A detailed search of a number of electronic databases for studies published from 2010 up to November 2016 was conducted. Studies that focused on the effects of communication training for carers and people living with dementia were included in the review.
  • A total of 450 studies were identified in the initial database search, and 38 were included in the review.
  • This systematic review was partially funded by Innovate UK and the Big Lottery Fund.

What the researchers found

  • Studies showed that training significantly improved family caregivers’ knowledge and communication skills.
  • Some research suggests that training improved professional carers’ communication and knowledge, however results should be interpreted with caution.
  • Results were unclear regarding the effects of training on family and professional carers’ psychological and mental well-being.
  • Studies showed that emotional support from a group of peers was a strong reason for using internet-based interventions.

Conclusion

  • Evidence suggests that training was effective at improving caregiver knowledge and communication skills through discussion and practice-based activities.
  • The effect on psychological and physical well-being was not clear. Further evidence is required to draw conclusions.



Glossary

Cognitive impairment
Trouble remembering, learning new things, concentrating, or making decisions that affect everyday life.
Systematic review
A comprehensive evaluation of the available research evidence on a particular topic.

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