Telehealth delivery of group-format cognitive rehabilitation to older veterans with TBI: a mixed-methods pilot study

Appl Neuropsychol Adult. 2023 Apr 12:1-13. doi: 10.1080/23279095.2023.2199160. Online ahead of print.


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is common among Veterans and may interact with aging, increasing risk for negative cognitive, emotional, and functional outcomes. However, no accessible (i.e., in-home) group interventions for TBI targeted to older adults exist. Goal Oriented Attentional Self-Regulation (GOALS) is a manualized, group cognitive rehabilitation training that improves executive function and emotional regulation among Veterans with TBI and healthy older adults. Our objectives were to adapt GOALS for delivery to older Veterans via in-home video telehealth (IVT) and evaluate feasibility and participant-rated acceptability of the telehealth GOALS intervention (TeleGOALS). Six Veterans 69+, with multiple TBIs completed the 10-session intervention in groups of 2. One participant withdrew, and another completed the remaining sessions alone (total n enrolled = 8). Required adaptations were noted; questionnaire responses were quantified; and feedback was analyzed and coded to identify themes. Quantitative and qualitative methods were used to examine feasibility (i.e., recruitment and retention) and participant-rated acceptability. Minimal adaptations were required for IVT delivery. Key themes emerged: (a) the importance of telehealth logistics, (b) facilitators' roles in prioritizing interpersonal connection, and (c) telehealth's capability to create opportunities for community reintegration. Thematic saturation (the point at which feedback from respondents is consistent and no further adaptations are required) was achieved. Participants stated they would likely recommend TeleGOALS to other Veterans. Although further study with a larger, more diverse sample is required, the adapted TeleGOALS intervention appears highly feasible and acceptable for older Veterans with TBI able and willing to participate in a group-format IVT intervention.

Keywords: Cognitive rehabilitation; cognitive training; executive function; telehealth; telemedicine; telerehabilitation; traumatic brain injury; veterans.