Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Communication Sciences and Disorders

Major Professor

Theresa H. Chisolm

Co-Major Professor

Jacqueline J. Hinckley


Dementia, Implementation Science, Memory Aids, Nursing Homes, Speech Therapy


As the management of dementia is a significant public health concern, efforts to increase access to effective treatments to a greater number of residents with dementia in skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) are warranted. The treatment addressed in this study, non-electronic external memory aids, is an evidence-based practice that has been found to increase positive communicative interactions and decrease negative behavioral problems of residents with dementia in SNFs.

Although use of memory aids is recommended, there are significant barriers such as lack of time and resources that inhibit the use of effective treatments in typical clinical settings. To address such barriers to evidence-based practice (EBP) implementation, the Promoting Action on Research in Health Services (PARIHS) framework is available. The PARIHS framework accounts for elements outside of the clinician knowledge base that may impact EBP delivery such as perceptions of the specific EBP and the specific context in which the EBP will be delivered. Organizational variables such as culture, leadership priorities, and resource availability are considered. Although the PARIHS framework has been used to successfully study and support EBP uptake in other areas of health care such as nursing, this framework has not to date been used in the field of Speech-Language Pathology, the clinician group of interest in this study.

This study utilized a transformative, mixed-methods design within the PARIHS framework to investigate potential impacts of Speech-Language Pathologists' (SLPs) and Facility Rehabilitation Directors' (FRDs) perceptions of the evidence and organizational context on the use of non-electronic external memory aids in SNFs. The project explored differences between FRDs' and SLPs' perceptions of such variables, as well as the relationship between those variables and the SLPs' reported percentage of use of non-electronic external memory aids. Qualitative methods through semi-structured interviewing of SLPs further provided contextualized and detailed data regarding facilitators and barriers to the use of memory aids in SNFs.

Results of the study indicated that there were statistically significant differences between SLP and FRD groups in terms of perceptions of the organizational context in the SNF, with the FRDs viewing the organizational context more favorably. There were no significant quantitative differences between SLPs and FRDs in terms of perception of the evidence for the practice of non-electronic external memory aids. Both groups demonstrated relatively favorable perceptions of the practice (3.8 on a 5-point scale with 5 being strongly favorable). Each additional point regarding favorable perceptions of SLPs in terms of the evidence for non-electronic external memory aids were associated with a 24% increase in percentage of use of the practice. Perceptions of the organizational context in the SNF were not significantly associated with higher percentages of SLP use of the practice; however, issues of organizational context were heavily present in the qualitative data. Analysis of the interview data yielded a total of 318 codes and 191/318 (60%) of those codes addressed issues of organizational context. Qualitatively, the most common codes related to issues of lack of necessary staff to both implement and sustain the use of non-electronic external memory aids. Further, lack of physical materials and time to create memory aids was also a frequently reported barrier in the interview data. There was not mention of local performance data or systems for which to evaluate performance in relationship to non-electronic external memory aid usage in the interview data.

Results of this study may contribute to the acceleration of a successful, systematic uptake of non-electronic external memory aids for residents with dementia in SNFs by considering SLPs' perceptions of evidence and by engaging the end organizational context. This project may also serve as a model to contribute to the successful implementation of other EBP for patients with cognitive-communicative impairments.