Communication in the context of dementia: theoretical and family perspectives

  • Liam Ennis

Student thesis: Doctor of Clinical Psychology


The focus of this thesis is on communication between a person diagnosed with dementia and a person who has not been diagnosed with dementia. It considers both theoretical and family perspectives on the topic. Chapter one is a scoping review and synthesis of theoretical accounts of communication in the context of dementia. Eighteen theories were identified. The theories were derived from diverse perspectives, yet many of them seemed to describe similar components. Many of the components described were also similar to those included in definitions of person-centred dementia care. The meaning of these findings is considered, alongside a discussion of theories situated outside of this discourse and the implications for dementia research and intervention development. Chapter two investigated family member experiences of communicating with a loved one diagnosed with dementia, using a novel video-based method. The study identified that the symptoms of dementia were often experienced as threats to knowledge, personhood and closeness. Communication was often the means by which participants attempted to counteract these threats, with varying success. A model is proposed to structure the findings, along with implications for communication interventions. Chapter three describes and reflects on the important decisions made in completing the research described in chapters one and two. There is also some reflection on the process of completing this research, alongside some considerations of how things might have been done differently.
Date of Award31 Dec 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorSara Tai (Supervisor) & Warren Mansell (Supervisor)


  • Dementia
  • Communication
  • Theory

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