Improving wellbeing after acquired brain injury with a group program to enhance participation in valued activities
Type of Study/Intervention
Form of MS
Relapsing remitting MS, Secondary progressive MS, Primary progressive MS
Acquired brain injuries (ABIs) such as stroke, traumatic brain injury, and multiple sclerosis are commonly associated with cognitive impairment and emotional distress. These changes significantly impact a range of outcomes, including participation in meaningful and valued activities. Valued living (the extent to which a person lives in accordance with their values) has been associated with improved psychological adjustment and functional outcome in ABI survivors (Pais-Hrit, Wong, Gould & Ponsford, 2019). Therefore, interventions increasing valued living within ABI populations may be effective in improving a range of psychological and functional outcomes.
Since 2018 our research team has been evaluating the feasibility and acceptability of a new group program called VaLiANT (Valued Living After Neurological Trauma) that aims to enhance psychological adjustment in acquired brain injury (ABI) populations by combining cognitive rehabilitation and psychological therapy using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) principles. The 8-week group program for individuals with ABI-related cognitive impairment and/or emotional distress focusses on helping participants reconnect with what gives their lives meaning while providing strategies for cognitive and emotional barriers. A Phase I study has been completed utilising a single case experimental design (SCED). Preliminary results show that wellbeing and psychological flexibility improved following participation in the VaLiANT program, and trends were evident suggesting increased mood and self-efficacy and reduced subjective memory complaints.
This Phase II study aims to build on the findings of the SCED through a pilot randomised controlled trial evaluating the efficacy of the program in enhancing psychological adjustment in people with ABI. Up to four groups per year will run, either at the La Trobe University Psychology clinic in Bundoora, or via telehealth (during periods of COVID-related restrictions). Participants who would like to increase their participation in valued activities and are experiencing ABI-related cognitive dysfunction and/or emotional distress (reported by self or other) will be invited to take part. Participation will involve attending eight group sessions (2 hours per week for 8 weeks), as well as attending assessments immediately before, immediately after, and 8-weeks following the group (1.5 hours each).
Participants need to have experienced an acquired brain injury at least 3 months prior to enrolment in the study, and be 18 years of age or over. They need to be experiencing some reduction in their participation in valued activities, as well as cognitive difficulties and/or emotional distress. Also, participants will need to be able to attend La Trobe Psychology Clinic (for in-person sessions) and have access to an internet-connected computer or tablet (for any telehealth sessions) on the dates specified.
Individuals will be ineligible for participation if they have a pre-existing intellectual disability, severe psychiatric disorder or comorbid neurodegenerative condition, as these comorbidities would act as significant confounding factors. Participants will also be excluded if they do not have sufficient cognitive functioning or English language ability to complete outcome measures or participate in the group.
Anticipated start date
No longer recruiting.
Dr Dana Wong
La Trobe University
T: 03 9479 5079