CST was designed through systematically reviewing the literature on the main non-pharmacological therapies for dementia (2, 3). The most effective elements of the different therapies were combined to create the CST programme, which was modified following a pilot study (4). CST was then evaluated as a multi-centre randomised controlled trial (RCT) in 23 centres (residential homes and day centres) (1).
The 201 participants with a diagnosis of dementia were randomly allocated to either CST groups or a 'no treatment' control condition. The results of the trial showed that CST led to significant benefits in people's cognitive functioning, as measured by the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) and the ADAS-COG. These tests primarily investigate memory and orientation, but also language and visuospatial abilities. Because these outcome measures are used in the dementia drug trials, direct comparisons could be made. Further research showed that CST made a significant impact on language skills including naming, word-finding and comprehension (13).
Analysis suggested that for larger improvements in cognition, CST is equally effective as several dementia drugs. Further, CST led to significant improvements in quality of life, as rated by the participants themselves using the QoL-AD. There were no reported side-effects of CST.
Further research has involved interviewing people with dementia, carers and staff about their experiences of CST sessions (14). Key themes emerging included positive experiences of being in the groups, due to a supportive and non-threatening environment; and improvements in mood, confidence and concentration.
(From the ‘Evidence-Base’ section of the CST website)
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Read about a multi-centred research trial underway at the moment which is looking into the development of Individualised Cognitive Stimulation (iCST). The aim of the trial is to develop and evaluate a home based one-to-one version of Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (CST) delivered by family carers. Find out more…
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