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ACT Project

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is an evidenced-based behavioural therapy that has demonstrated effectiveness in improving psychological function in a diverse range of health conditions (e.g. cancer, pain, epilepsy, diabetes, depression and anxiety). However, there does not appear to be any research that explores the use of ACT in brain injury populations.

Research is required to rigorously test the efficiency of ACT based interventions in facilitating acquired brain injury (ABI) patient groups to re-engage in living a valued and meaningful life, in spite of their neurocognitive and physical limitations.

This project was designed to contribute to  innovative approaches to rehabilitation service delivery. ACT based intervention with the ABI population is in its early stages. This project explored the use and effectiveness of ACT in a community brain injury population.

The project was designed to foster an interdisciplinary approach to workplace learning through the development of comprehensive package of resources and training allowing other rehabilitation professionals to implement ACT strategies from the resources developed across all stages of the rehabilitation continuum.

Individuals with ABI

Key Features
This study aimed to examine the effectiveness of an ACT based intervention in facilitating individuals with a brain injury to re-engage in living a valued and meaningful life and to assist with their psychological adjustment to their injury. It was hypothesised that following the five session ACT-based intervention participants would (1) demonstrate improved psychological adjustment and quality of life; (2) show an increase in the frequency of participation in meaningful activities and (3) report higher levels of satisfaction and enjoyment in weekly activities.

As a specialist state-wide service, ABIOS has a role in training and consultancy. The project also aims to develop a resource package and to disseminate these findings within the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Service (BIRS) and to other brain injury rehabilitation services.

This project was funded under research grants from the Health Practitioner Research Scheme and the Community Rehabilitation Workforce Project Research and Development Grants

Research Evaluation Strategies

Phase 1: ACT intervention phase
Participants were  recruited from active caseloads of ABIOS rehabilitation coordinators. Upon entry into the study participants were randomly assigned to either immediate or delayed treatment (waitlist control) groups. The intervention consisted of 5 structured sessions that focussed on mindfulness, value clarification and identification, committed action (also known as goal setting), cognitive defusion and acceptance/willingness. Outcome questionnaires were administered in the beginning of session one and after the completion of session 5 in the immediate treatment group. The wait list control group  also completed measures 5 weeks prior to commencing the intervention in order to control for the effect of standard case management. After a 5 week wait participants in this group then crossed-over to the intervention group.

Phase 2: Research development and training
Following the intervention, ACT resources were amended based on therapist and participant feedback to ensure ease of use. They were made available to all ABIOS team members and incorporated in a training package designed for use by other rehabilitation health professionals to assist psychological adjustment and improve quality of life in clients with ABI. The project team provided training to ABIOS team members and other brain injury rehabilitation professionals (both hospital and community based) designed to increase understanding of using ACT with people with ABI.

Outputs and Outcomes

Complete ACT resources available for use by ABIOS

Results revealed a significant reduction in depression, anxiety and stress symptoms immediately following the intervention, with improvements being maintained at 3 month follow up.

Participants reported engaging in a greater number and range of activities following the intervention. Moreover. participants reported higher satisfaction with their participation in activities following the intervention. Improved satisfaction and participation was maintained at 3 month follow-up.

There are no  publications for this research to date.

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Last updated: 7 September 2017