Improving Psychological Wellness After Acquired Brain Injury


Toronto Rehabilitation Institute




Brain Injury


Behavioral: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Study type


Funder types




Details and patient eligibility


The purpose of the study is to investigate the potential benefits of a psychological therapy, called cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), for improving emotional well being after acquired brain injury and to demonstrate its efficacy in both under telephone (T-CBT) and face-to-face group (G-CBT) modes of delivery compared to an educational control group.

Full description

Each year, approximately 50,000 Canadians sustain an acquired brain injury (ABI) with 16,000 of those individuals living in Ontario. Individuals with ABI not only suffer significant cognitive and motor impairments, but they often experience debilitating emotional distress. Emotional distress uniquely contributes to poorer functional outcomes and decreased quality of life. Moreover, emotional distress confers risk for the subsequent development of serious mental illness such as depression, anxiety disorders, suicide and possibly psychotic illness. While a great deal of clinical resources are devoted to the cognitive and motor sequelae of ABI, the concomitant psychological and psychiatric sequelae of brain injury often receive relatively little attention in in-patient and day-hospital programs, and the expense and inaccessibility of therapeutic services are often prohibitive for consumers in the sub-acute and chronic stages of brain injury. Moreover, few psychological interventions are tailored to the specific cognitive needs and content issues of brain-injured consumers. We have taken a well-validated mode of psychological treatment used in face-to-face therapeutic settings - Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) - and adapted it for the needs of brain-injured clients. Thus far, the protocol has been adapted for content issues and cognitive impairments of people with ABI, it has been adapted for telehealth delivery, it has been through expert review, and its feasibility has been assessed. The aim of the proposed research is to demonstrate in a randomized control trial (RCT) the efficacy of the adapted protocol, both in a standard delivery modality (i.e., face to face and group) and in the telehealth delivery modality in comparison to an education control group. The treatment is focused on improving coping skills and decreasing psychological distress post-ABI. If proven effective, the intervention could be used cost-effectively by a range of therapists (e.g., Psychologists; Psychiatrists; Occupational Therapists and Social Workers) to improve coping, adjustment and quality of life for ABI consumers irrespective of geographical location, mobility restrictions or economic status.


75 estimated patients




18 to 65 years old


No Healthy Volunteers

Inclusion criteria

  • One standard deviation above the mean on the SCL-90-R, Global Severity Index (GSI)
  • Moderate to severe brain injury, operationalized as a GCS of 12 or less in TBI participants and cognitive impairment of at least two standard deviations below expected levels in at least one cognitive domain in all participants
  • on a stable dosage and being monitored by a physician(if on psychoactive medications)
  • able to provide informed consent

Exclusion criteria

  • Endorsement of significant suicidal ideation at the time of evaluation
  • Engaged in another CBT or other psychotherapeutic intervention
  • Communication disorder that would preclude participation in the intervention

Trial design

Primary purpose




Interventional model

Parallel Assignment


Single Blind

75 participants in 4 patient groups

Group Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Experimental group
Behavioral: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Telephone Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Experimental group
Behavioral: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Group Education
No Intervention group
Telephone Education
No Intervention group

Trial contacts and locations



Central trial contact

Jasmin Corbie, BA

Data sourced from

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