A systematic review of recommended modifications of CBT for people with cognitive impairments following brain injury

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Gallagher, Melanie ; McLeod, Hamish J. ; McMillan, Thomas M. (2018)

Due to diverse cognitive, emotional and interpersonal changes that can follow brain injury, psychological therapies often need to be adapted to suit the complex needs of this population. The aims of the study were to synthesise published recommendations for therapy modifications following brain injury from non-progressive traumatic, vascular, or metabolic causes and to determine how often such modifications have been applied to cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for post-injury emotional adjustment problems. A systematic review and narrative synthesis of therapy modifications recommended in review articles and reported in intervention studies was undertaken. Database and manual searches identified 688 unique papers of which eight review articles and 16 intervention studies met inclusion criteria. The review articles were thematically analysed and a checklist of commonly recommended modifications composed. The checklist items clustered under themes of: therapeutic education and formulation; attention; communication; memory; and executive functioning. When this checklist was applied to the intervention studies, memory aids and an emphasis on socialising patients to the CBT model were most frequently reported as adaptations. It was concluded that the inconsistent reporting of psychological therapy adaptations for people with brain injury is a barrier to developing effective and replicable therapies. We present a comprehensive account of potential modifications that should be used to guide future research and practice.
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