Group experiences of cognitive stimulation therapy (CST) in Tanzania: a qualitative study

Jasmine MorrishORCID Icon,Richard Walker,Catherine Dotchin,Aimee SpectorORCID Icon,Stavros OrfanosORCID Icon,Sarah Mkenda &Esther Peniel Shali
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Tanzania is a low-income country in which medication for dementia is largely unavailable. Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (CST) is a group-based psychological treatment for people with dementia (PwD), shown to improve cognition and quality of life (QoL). It has previously been culturally adapted and piloted in Tanzania, shown to produce similar outcomes. UK research into CST suggests processes inherent to the group nature are key to its success. This study sought to identify group processes within CST in Tanzania and understand their impact on CST principles and outcomes.


Data collection took place in rural Hai District, through qualitative semi-structured interviews. Sixteen PwD and four facilitators were recruited through convenience sampling and interviewed about their experiences of CST. Interviews were audio-recorded, translated, transcribed and analysed by thematic analysis.


Two main themes emerged: ‘Positive group experiences’ and ‘Negative group experiences’. From this, a number of group processes were identified, such as helping behaviours and feeling understood by the group. Positive processes supported CST principles and participant improvement. Facilitators were influential over group dynamics. The group processes identified impacted CST principles and treatment outcomes.


This is the first study on group mechanisms of CST in Tanzania. It provides deeper insight into participants’ experiences of CST, thus identifying specific processes underlying the quantitatively measured positive outcomes of CST in Tanzania by previous studies. It also reveals further cultural barriers to implementation, enabling amendments for optimization of treatment efficacy.