Original Research

Barriers to the implementation of a computer-based rehabilitation programme in two public psychiatric settings

Aline Ferreira-Correia, Tyler Barberis, Lerato Msimanga
South African Journal of Psychiatry | Vol 24 | a1163 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajpsychiatry.v24i0.1163 | © 2018 Aline Ferreira-Correia, Tyler Barberis, Lerato Msimanga | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 September 2017 | Published: 11 June 2018

About the author(s)

Aline Ferreira-Correia, Department of Psychology, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
Tyler Barberis, Department of Psychology, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
Lerato Msimanga, Department of Psychology, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa


Background: Working memory (WM) deficits have a negative impact on treatment adherence and quality of life. Efficient and effective interventions are needed in order to improve the cognitive functioning of those affected, especially in low-resource communities. Computer-based rehabilitation programmes (CBRP) are low-cost therapeutic approaches for WM deficits. Perceptions and experiences of target users may influence whether CBRP constitute an effective therapeutic option for adults with cognitive impairment in under-resourced environments.

Aim: The goal of the study was to explore the experiences of a group of volunteers with WM deficits (associated with diagnoses of HIV and schizophrenia), in terms of the perceived barriers they encountered during their participation in a CBRP.

Methods: A qualitative, descriptive research design was implemented. Short interviews and field notes were used in order to investigate the experiences of nine participants in relation to the CBRP. The sample included four participants living with HIV and five with schizophrenia, all with WM deficits.

Results: Using a thematic analysis, eight barriers were identified: unawareness of the cognitive deficit, anticipation of negative results, stigma, difficulties accessing a computer and/or Internet connection, ill health, negative emotional experiences, daily routine challenges and non-conducive or sabotaging environments. A representational model of these barriers is proposed.

Conclusion: The implementation of a cognitive rehabilitation strategy should not only take into consideration issues of access to particular strategies and materials but should also be preceded by an exploration of how individual and contextual barriers are experienced by the potential users, as these contribute to the risk of dropout.


Cognitive training; computer-based rehabilitation; risk of dropout


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