Authors: Turner S, Whitworth A
Title: Conversational Partner Training Programmes in Aphasia: A Review of Key Themes and Participants’ Roles
Source: Aphasiology 2006 20(6): 483-510
Year: 2006
Research Design: Systematic Review

BACKGROUND: Conversational training programmes are increasingly being reported for partners of people with aphasia. While these all aim to increase communicative effectiveness between people with aphasia and their communication partners, and all report measurable success, the programmes vary in terms of selection criteria for participants, the methods used, and the way in which they have been evaluated. This paper critically reviews a group of studies that have carried out conversation partner training (CPT) programmes for both familiar partners of people with aphasia (spouse or relative of a person with aphasia) and volunteers. AIMS: The purpose of the review is (1) to identify the type of people CPT might benefit, i.e., whether particular characteristics of the participants have been considered influential to the outcome of interventions and (2) to consider the outcomes of such training programmes more generally, i.e., whether they have been effective, whether the effectiveness of the programmes is dependent on the format of the training and, to some extent, the measures that have been used to evaluate their effectiveness. MAIN CONTRIBUTION: The review highlighted the positive outcomes reported by the studies, irrespective of whether the usual conversation partner or a volunteer was involved, in relation to the evaluation measures used. A paucity of information was found for the conversation partner participants compared to the person with aphasia, along with a limited analysis of the impact of the partner on the effectiveness of the intervention. Criteria underpinning selection for training programmes was related primarily to availability rather than behavioural or conversational characteristics. Longer-term follow-up of interventions was also limited. CONCLUSION: That CPT interventions can be effective is not disputed here. However, the measurement of such effectiveness needs scrutiny and for whom these interventions work remains largely unknown. This review highlights the need for more information on both participants, with particular regard to the partner of the person with aphasia, to be both established and documented when reporting the impact of this type of intervention. This will permit an examination of the extent to which particular variables or partner profiles are influential and potentially predictive when determining suitable candidates for CPT. Equally, systematic follow-up of all those participating in training will enable a clearer picture to emerge of the effectiveness of such interventions.

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