International Psychogeriatrics


Impact of Training Dementia Caregivers in Sensitivity to Nonverbal Emotion Signals

Carol Magai a1, Carl I. Cohen a2 and David Gomberg a1
a1 Long Island University, Brooklyn, New York, US
a2 SUNY Health Science Center, Brooklyn, New York, US

Article author query
magai c   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
cohen c   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
gomberg d   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


Ninety-one mid- to late-stage dementia patients residing in nursing homes, along with their staff caregivers, participated in a study designed to assess whether training caregivers in sensitivity to nonverbal communication could enhance mood and reduce symptoms in patients and improve psychological well-being in caregivers. Patients and staff at three nursing homes comprised three groups that were randomly assigned to either a non-verbal sensitivity group, a behavioral placebo group that received instruction in the cognitive and behavioral aspects of dementia, and a wait-list control. Training consisted of 10 one-hour sessions taught by a clinical psychologist using prepared materials. Patient measures, which were taken at baseline and at 4 three-week intervals, included patient symptomatology (depression, agitation, behavioral symptoms), as reported by the staff caregivers, and positive and negative facial expressions of emotion elicited during a face-to-face interview and coded by trained research staff. Results indicated that positive affect increased sharply during the first 6 weeks after intervention in the nonverbal group, with the placebo and wait-list controls showing no change. There was also a decline in negative affect across time for all groups. Effects with respect to patient symptomatology did not reach significance. Caregivers in both training groups showed a decline in symptomatology, whereas the wait-list control group did not.

Key Words: Dementia; nonverbal; emotion.