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Patient Educ Couns. 2008 Oct;73(1):8-21. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2008.05.026. Epub 2008 Jul 24.

Therapeutic communication training in long-term care institutions: recommendations for future research.

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  • 1University of California, Los Angeles, Schools of Public Affairs and Medicine, Departments of Social Welfare & Medicine/Geriatrics, Borun Center for Gerontological Research, Los Angeles, CA, USA. llstorms@ucla.edu



The purpose of this review is to critique contemporary experimental research and to recommend future directions for research interventions on nursing aides' therapeutic communication with older adults who have cognitive impairment and/or dementia in institutional long-term care settings.


This literature review covers 13 journal articles (1999-2006) and focuses on the strengths and weaknesses of experimental research interventions to improve nursing aides' therapeutic communication with older adults who have cognitive impairment and/or dementia in long-term care settings.


Based on this review, recommendations for improved experimental designs include a minimum of two groups with one being a control and randomization of subjects at the care unit level, an average 3-5h of total training, a minimum of a 6-month total evaluation period, and objective outcomes relevant to both nursing aides and residents. Findings from studies in this review indicate that the following therapeutic communication techniques can be taught and can benefit staffs and older adults' quality of life: verbal and non-verbal communication behaviors including open-ended questions, positive statements, eye contact, affective touch, and smiling.


Some evidence exists to support that nursing aides can improve their therapeutic communication during care.


Nursing aides need not only more training in therapeutic communication but also ongoing, dedicated supervision in psychosocial aspects of care.

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