Authors: Beeke S, Beckley F, Johnson F, Heilemann C, Edwards S, Maxim J, Best W
Title: Conversation focused aphasia therapy: investigating the adoption of strategies by people with agrammatism
Source: Aphasiology 2015 29(3): 355-377
Year: 2015
Research Design: Single Case Design

Background: A recent review of interaction (or conversation)-focused therapy highlighted the potential of programmes targeting the person with aphasia (PWA) directly. However, it noted the key limitations of current work in this field to be a reliance on single case analyses and qualitative evidence of change, a situation that is not unusual when a complex behavioural intervention is in the early stages of development and evaluation. Aims: This article aims to evaluate an intervention that targeted a PWA and their conversation partner (CP), a dyad, as equals in a novel conversation therapy for agrammatic aphasia, using both quantitative and qualitative evidence of change. The intervention aimed to increase the insight of a dyad into facilitator and barrier conversation behaviours, to increase the understanding of the effect of agrammatism on communication, and to support each speaker to choose three strategies to work on in therapy to increase mutual understanding and enhance conversation. Methods & Procedures: Quantitative and qualitative methods are used to analyse multiple pre-therapy and follow up assessments of conversation for two dyads. Outcomes & Results: Results show that one person with severe and chronic agrammatic aphasia was able to select and practise strategies that led to qualitative and quantitative changes in his post-therapy conversations. The other PWA showed a numerical increase in one of his three strategies post therapy, but no significant quantitative change. Although both CPs significantly reduced barrier behaviours in their post-therapy conversations, neither showed a significant increase in the strategies they chose to work on. For one CP, there was qualitative evidence of the use of different turn types. Conclusions: Individually tailored input from a speech and language therapist can assist some people with chronic agrammatism to develop conversational strategies that enhance communication. Outcomes are influenced by the severity and extent of language deficits affecting, for example, single word writing. In terms of behaviour change for CPs, it appears that it may be easier to reduce barrier behaviours rather than to increase the use of facilitatory strategies. The results have implications for collaborative goal setting with clients undergoing conversation therapy.

Access: Open Access