No AccessAmerican Journal of Speech-Language PathologyResearch Article27 Jan 2021

Positive Changes in Certified Nursing Assistants' Communication Behaviors With People With Dementia: Feasibility of a Coaching Strategy


    This study investigated whether a 6-week coaching strategy resulted in positive changes in self-perceived knowledge and efficacy (SPKE) and positive communication behaviors in certified nursing assistants (CNAs) working with people with dementia in a skilled nursing facility. It also assessed the impact of the coaching strategy on negative responsive behaviors of people with dementia, such as yelling out, hitting, or spitting.


    Seven CNAs and seven people with dementia completed this study. Pretesting and posttesting were conducted for CNAs' SPKE. A single-subject, multiple-baseline design across five communication behaviors, the positive communication approach checklist, was completed to assess CNA communication behaviors after completion of a coaching strategy. Pretesting and posttesting of responsive behaviors of people with dementia were completed with the Cohen–Mansfield Agitation Inventory.


    Six out of seven CNAs improved their SPKE from pre- to postcoaching; however, this difference was not statistically significant. Per the positive communication approach checklist, there was a statistically significant increase, from baseline to follow-up, in CNA positive communication behaviors when interacting with people with dementia. The frequency of overall responsive behaviors of people with dementia significantly decreased from pre- to postcoaching, per the Cohen–Mansfield Agitation Inventory.


    There is preliminary evidence to support the feasibility of a coaching strategy for the implementation of positive communication behaviors by CNAs when communicating with people with dementia. Negative responsive behaviors of people with dementia also decreased. Speech-language pathologists should consider acting as coaches to support positive communication for people with dementia.

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