Brain Boosters: Evaluating a Pilot Program for Memory Complaints in Veterans

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Abstract

This study investigated the feasibility and preliminary effectiveness of a pilot program designed to address subjective memory complaints among Veterans. The program, Brain Boosters, consisted of 10 once-weekly group sessions, during which psychoeducation and cognitive enhancement strategies were used to target memory concerns and related processes, specifically attentional difficulties. Given that memory complaints often are associated with psychiatric comorbidities, sessions also incorporated strategies for reducing symptoms of depression, posttraumatic stress, and insomnia. Controlling for age, we examined pre- to posttreatment change in symptom ratings for 96 Veterans (aged 22 to 87 years) who participated in the Brain Boosters program. The effect of Brain Boosters on memory complaints interacted with age: younger (but not older) Veterans reported reductions in memory impairment from pre- to posttreatment. Additionally, irrespective of age, from pre- to posttreatment Veterans reported fewer attentional difficulties and fewer depression symptoms. Ratings of posttraumatic stress and insomnia symptoms did not change, although insomnia was negatively associated with age. Linear regression controlling for age revealed that reductions in attention problems predicted reductions in perceived memory impairment. Findings from this exploratory, uncontrolled pilot study suggest that a psychoeducational cognitive enhancement group is feasible to conduct in a heterogeneous Veteran population, and may be associated with improvements in perceived memory functioning for younger Veterans, and in attention and depression symptoms for Veterans across age groups.

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