Goal Management Training Combined With External Cuing as a Means to Improve Emotional Regulation, Psychological Functioning, and Quality of Life in Patients With Acquired Brain Injury: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2016 Nov;97(11):1841-1852.e3. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2016.06.014. Epub 2016 Jul 15.


Objective: To investigate whether goal management training (GMT) expanded to include external cuing and an emotional regulation module is associated with improved emotional regulation, psychological functioning, and quality of life (QOL) after chronic acquired brain injury (ABI).

Design: Randomized controlled trial with blinded outcome assessment at baseline, posttraining, and 6-month follow-up.

Setting: Outpatient.

Participants: Persons with ABI and executive dysfunction (N=70; 64% traumatic brain injury; 52% men; mean age ± SD, 43±13y; mean time since injury ± SD, 8.1±9.4y).

Intervention: Eight sessions of GMT in groups, including a new module addressing emotional regulation, and external cuing. A psychoeducative control condition (Brain Health Workshop) was matched on amount of training, therapist contact, and homework.

Main outcome measures: Emotional regulation was assessed with the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Trust Regulation of Emotions Questionnaire, the Emotional Control subscale and the Emotion Regulation factor (Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function-Adult Version), and the Positive and Negative Affect subscales from the Dysexecutive Questionnaire. Secondary outcome measures included psychological distress (Hopkins Symptom Checklist-25) and QOL (Quality of Life After Brain Injury Scale).

Results: Findings indicated beneficial effects of GMT on emotional regulation skills in everyday life and in QOL 6 months posttreatment. No intervention effects on measures of psychological distress were registered.

Conclusions: GMT is a promising intervention for improving emotional regulation after ABI, even in the chronic phase. More research using objective measures of emotional regulation is needed to investigate the efficacy of this type of training.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02692352.

Keywords: Brain injuries; Clinical trial; Cognition; Emotions; Executive function; Rehabilitation.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Injuries / psychology*
  • Brain Injuries / rehabilitation*
  • Cues
  • Emotions*
  • Executive Function
  • Female
  • Goals*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mindfulness
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Quality of Life
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02692352