Introduction: Social communication difficulties (SCDs) occur frequently after an acquired brain injury (ABI) and have disabling consequences, but effective interventions are scant. Group Interactive Structured Treatment (GIST) is a holistic group treatment targeting SCD that has received empirical support.
Objective: To determine the efficacy of two GIST protocols, standard GIST and a newly developed intensive GIST, comparing standard GIST results to a wait-list control group (WL), as well as to intensive GIST received by participants following WL. The within subject results for WL and intensive GIST will also be examined.
Methods and analysis: Sixty adults (18–75 years) with SCD after ABI will be recruited for this randomised controlled trial. Standard GIST (n=30) will be delivered via outpatient sessions for 2.5 hours once per week for 12 weeks, plus one initial orientation session. Participants will be assessed at preintervention and postintervention and at 3-month and 6-month follow-ups (T1-T4). Intensive GIST (n=30) participants will be admitted to an inpatient rehabilitation unit for 4 weeks (two times 3 days/week, two times 4 days/week) and receive full-day sessions each week. Those participants will complete four assessments (T1-T4) in 12-week intervals as part of WL, assessments preintensive and postintensive GIST and at 3-month and 6-month follow-ups (T4-T7). The primary outcome measure is the La Trobe Questionnaire (self-report). Secondary outcome measures include the Profile of Pragmatic Impairment in Communication, a test of emotion recognition, the Goal Attainment Scale and questionnaires addressing social, emotional and cognitive functions, self-efficacy and quality of life.
Ethics and dissemination: Results will be communicated through international, peer-reviewed and popular science journals and presentations at scientific conferences. The study is approved by the Regional Committees for Medical and Health Research Ethics Norway (2017/1360). The trial will be conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki and reported in accordance with the Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials 2010 statement and Standard Protocol Items: Recommendations for Interventional Trials recommendations.