Authors: Falconer C, Antonucci SM
Title: Use of semantic feature analysis in group discourse treatment for aphasia: Extension and expansion
Source: Aphasiology 2012 26(1): 64-82
Year: 2012
Research Design: Single Case Design

Background: Semantic feature analysis (SFA) is a treatment for lexical retrieval impairment in which participants are cued to provide semantic information about concepts they have difficulty naming, in an effort to facilitate accurate lexical retrieval (Boyle, 2004a). Previous work has provided preliminary evidence that persons with aphasia who participated in SFA-focused group aphasia treatment demonstrate improved lexical retrieval in discourse, with additional improvements observed in either general communication informativeness or efficiency (Antonucci, 2009). Furthermore, results suggested that individuals with differing mechanisms of anomia could derive benefits from participation in SFA-focused group treatment. Aims: The aim of the current study was to investigate further training of SFA in connected speech during group aphasia treatment. This study expanded and extended previous work (Antonucci, 2009), through the addition of participants with more varied aetiologies and severities of aphasia, and through the introduction of home practice. It was hypothesised that lexical retrieval during discourse would improve, as would overall communicative informativeness and/or efficiency. Methods & Procedures: Four individuals with aphasia participated in biweekly group treatment during which SFA was trained through connected speech tasks. Three participants presented with stroke aphasia, while one demonstrated aphasia consequent to traumatic brain injury. Discourse measures included those for overall communicative informativeness and efficiency (Nicholas & Brookshire, 1993) and for word-class-specific lexical retrieval (Mayer & Murray, 2003). Effect sizes were calculated for all discourse measures. Pre- and post-treatment performance on the spontaneous speech portion of the Western Aphasia Battery-Revised was also analysed relative to discourse measures, to corroborate findings from more frequently repeated probes. Outcomes & Results: All four participants demonstrated improvement to communicative informativeness and/or efficiency in connected speech tasks. Conclusions: Results provide additional support for the hypothesis that SFA administered during group aphasia treatment can be used successfully to facilitate improvement of communicative effectiveness. These results also support previous findings that individuals with differing aetiologies and natures of word retrieval impairment may benefit from participation in the same SFA-focused group aphasia treatment. Future work proceeding from this study may be directed towards differentiating which aspects of the treatment are most effective across participants with varied naming impairment, what is the optimal group composition and size, and towards discerning the most effective methods for facilitating and monitoring home practice.

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