The Evidence-Base

CST is an evidence-based treatment. It was designed following extensive analysis of research evidence and has been evaluated worldwide.

Evidence-base for group CST

Group CST was designed through systematically reviewing the literature on the main non-pharmacological therapies for dementia (4, 5), with the most effective elements of different therapies combined to create the CST programme (6).

CST has since been evaluated internationally, and has been found to improve general cognitive functioning, language comprehension and production, and quality of life (7).

Research has also explored the experiences of CST sessions of people with dementia, carers and staff. Key themes included positive experiences of being in the groups due to a supportive and non-threatening environment, and improvements in mood, confidence and concentration (8). Quotes from people with dementia participating included:

  • "I noticed people becoming more fluent and you could see people trying to express themselves more".
  • "We just enjoyed ourselves; there’s an awful lot of laughter".
  • "It helped all of us know we were in the same boat".

Quotes from family carers included:

  • "There is no argument that my wife is brighter".
  • "She's started remembering things since coming to the group".
  • "The value of the group has been to make him more animated and motivated".

Evidence-base for Maintenance CST

A trial of Maintenance CST consisting of 26 weekly sessions following the CST programme (9) found that ongoing CST led to continuous benefits in quality of life over a six-month period. Cognitive benefits continued too, although the difference between the treatment and control conditions was no longer statistically significant - an inevitable consequence of the decline found in dementia.

The trial also found that those who improved the most were receiving both Maintenance CST and anti-dementia medication, suggesting that people should have the option of both wherever possible.

Evidence-base for Individual CST

A trial on Individual CST (iCST) has evaluated the effectiveness of CST delivered on a one-to-one basis by family carers (10). Changes in cognitive function and quality of life for the people with dementia were not significant, as they had been following group CST. However, the people with dementia reported an improvement in their relationship with their carer after taking part in iCST sessions.

Additional benefits emerged as carers reported an improvement in their own quality of life. Both people with dementia and carers valued the mental stimulation, and people with dementia appreciated activities that were meaningful and helped them keep in touch with the world around them.