C2D2 research 2a - Investigating the ‘supported conversation’ intervention technique: a study of interactions between health care professionals and people with aphasia

Project: Other projectOther internal award

Project Details

Layman's description

The aim of this bid is to fund the pilot stages of a study of communication between people with aphasia after stroke, and members of the multidisciplinary team of health care professionals caring for them, in order to develop and draft a grant proposal. The objectives of the full study will be to 1) develop linguistically-informed methods to evaluate the efficacy of the communication interventions currently in use in the NHS, with special focus on Supported Conversation; 2) develop good practice guidelines for all members of the post-stroke health care team (eg., occupational therapists and GPs as well as speech & language therapists) and 3) facilitate the involvement of people with aphasia after stroke in their clinical care decisions. The special strength of the project is the combination of a linguistic understanding of aphasia as a language deficit, combined with conversation analytic methodology (an interdisciplinary methodology used in several different academic disciplines including linguistics, sociology, and psychology). The research aims to unpick the demonstrable communicative capabilities of people with aphasia in spite of this (organically-caused) deficit.

Key findings


Data collection for this pilot study began in November 2013. Findings indicate a linguistic difference in the way that people with aphasia design their turns at talk to either claim an understanding of what went before, or to display that understanding. The difference is especially important when people with aphasia are being given information about their condition and/or being asked to participate in treatment decisions. We intend to use this information to more fully investigate what makes a doctor-patient interaction satisfactory for people with aphasia with special attention to information delivery  and decision-making sequences. The eventual aim is to  devise training packages for NHS staff.


The entire speech and language therapy team at the Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust has been extremely helpful and eager to be involved in the project, and in any future projects. One of the lead SLTs on the project, Nicola Martin, writes "we have already been much more analytical of our practice and using it in training ourselves and others".

Walker has developed links with neurology consultants at the University of Sheffield/Sheffield Teaching Hospitals and is collaborating with them to prepare a bid to the NIHR under the Research for Patient Benefit Scheme (amount to be applied for: £250,000 approx). Watt and other colleages from HYMS at York will also be involved in the research. We are also in the process of building connections with the Yorkshire Stroke Research Network.


One article is in preparation for the Royal College of Speech & Language Therapy bulletin and another for the journal Aphasiology.

Effective start/end date1/02/1331/01/14