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Title: "Aging and Engaging: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial of an Online Conversational Skills Coach for Older Adults", Am. J. of Geriatric Psychiatry, 29(8):804-815, Aug 2021.
Objective: Communication difficulties negatively impact relationship quality and are associated with social isolation and loneliness in later life. There is a need for accessible communication interventions offered outside specialty mental health settings. Design: Pilot randomized controlled trial. Setting: Assessments in the laboratory and intervention completed in-home. Participants: Twenty adults age 60 and older from the community and a geriatric psychiatry clinic. Intervention: A web-based communication coach that provides automated feedback on eye contact, facial expressivity, speaking volume, and negative content (Aging and Engaging Program, AEP), delivered with minimal assistance in the home (eight brief sessions over 4–6 weeks) or control (education and videos on communication). Measurements: System Usability Scale and Social Skills Performance Assessment, an observer-rated assessment of social communication elicited through standardized role-plays. Results" Ninety percent of participants completed all AEP sessions and the System Usability Scale score of 68 was above the cut-off for acceptable usability. Participants randomized to AEP demonstrated statistically and clinically significant improvement in eye contact and facial expressivity. Conclusion: The AEP is acceptable and feasible for older adults with communication difficulties to complete at home and may improve eye contact and facial expressivity, warranting a larger RCT to confirm efficacy and explore potential applications to other populations, including individuals with autism and social anxiety.
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American journal of geriatric psychiatry
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National Science Foundation
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