This study reports on the treatment fidelity procedures implemented during a 5-year randomized controlled trial comparing intensive and distributed comprehensive aphasia therapy. Specifically, the results of 1 treatment, verb network strengthening treatment (VNeST), are examined.
Eight participants were recruited for each of 7 consecutive cohorts for a total of 56 participants. Participants completed 60 hr of aphasia therapy, including 15 hr of VNeST. Two experienced speech-language pathologists delivered the treatment. To promote treatment fidelity, the study team developed a detailed manual of procedures and fidelity checklists, completed role plays to standardize treatment administration, and video-recorded all treatment sessions for review. To assess protocol adherence during treatment delivery, trained research assistants not involved in the treatment reviewed video recordings of a subset of randomly selected VNeST treatment sessions and completed the fidelity checklists. This process was completed for 32 participants representing 2 early cohorts and 2 later cohorts, which allowed for measurement of protocol adherence over time. Percent accuracy of protocol adherence was calculated across clinicians, cohorts, and study condition (intensive vs. distributed therapy).
The fidelity procedures were sufficient to promote and verify a high level of adherence to the treatment protocol across clinicians, cohorts, and study condition.
Treatment fidelity strategies and monitoring are feasible when incorporated into the study design. Treatment fidelity monitoring should be completed at regular intervals during the course of a study to ensure that high levels of protocol adherence are maintained over time and across conditions.