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Open Access Study protocol

A randomized controlled trial on errorless learning in goal management training: study rationale and protocol

Dirk Bertens1*, Luciano Fasotti12, Danielle HE Boelen3 and Roy PC Kessels13

Author Affiliations

1 Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

2 Rehabilitation Medical Centre Groot Klimmendaal/SIZA Support and Rehabilitation, Arnhem, The Netherlands

3 Department of Medical Psychology, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

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BMC Neurology 2013, 13:64  doi:10.1186/1471-2377-13-64

Published: 20 June 2013



Many brain-injured patients referred for outpatient rehabilitation have executive deficits, notably difficulties with planning, problem-solving and goal directed behaviour. Goal Management Training (GMT) has proven to be an efficacious cognitive treatment for these problems. GMT entails learning and applying an algorithm, in which daily tasks are subdivided into multiple steps. Main aim of the present study is to examine whether using an errorless learning approach (preventing the occurrence of errors during the acquisition phase of learning) contributes to the efficacy of Goal Management Training in the performance of complex daily tasks.


The study is a double blind randomized controlled trial, in which the efficacy of Goal Management Training with an errorless learning approach will be compared with conventional Goal Management Training, based on trial and error learning. In both conditions 32 patients with acquired brain injury of mixed etiology will be examined. Main outcome measure will be the performance on two individually chosen everyday-tasks before and after treatment, using a standardized observation scale and goal attainment scaling.


This is the first study that introduces errorless learning in Goal Management Training. It is expected that the GMT-errorless learning approach will improve the execution of complex daily tasks in brain-injured patients with executive deficits. The study can contribute to a better treatment of executive deficits in cognitive rehabilitation.

Trial registration

(Dutch Trial Register): http://NTR3567 webcite

Goal management training; Errorless learning; Executive deficits; Acquired brain injury