Collaborating to narrow the evidence-to-practice gap in communication care for people with dementia

Research co-leads: 

  • Tami Howe
    University of British Columbia 

Research user co-lead:

  • Katharine Davies
    Providence Health Care, University of British Columbia – Vancouver

Team members: 

  • Indershini Pillay
    Providence Health Care
  • Tara Chen
    Providence Health Care
  • Dr. Jeff Small
    University of British Columbia

Communication is central to everyday life. It is essential for maintaining relationships with family and friends and for participating in community, social, and leisure activities. In older adults, communication is particularly important because of the increased risk for social isolation and depression. A major contributor to communication disorders in BC is dementia, which has an estimated prevalence of 62,000. Most people with dementia (PWD) experience communication difficulties early on, making it a high priority for intervention.  

Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) are the health professionals with specialist knowledge in managing communication disorders. There is a strong evidence base for the provision of nonpharmacological interventions to address the communication needs of PWD and their families. However, SLPs report many barriers to implementing these interventions and PWD seldom have access to evidence-based communication care. There is a need to narrow this evidence-to-practice gap. We plan to create a collaboration between clinical research users and researchers to identify the barriers and facilitators to implementing evidence-based communication care in BC and to develop a set of research priorities for this area.