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Keywords:

  • aphasia;
  • stroke;
  • outcome measures;
  • evidence-based practice

Abstract 

Background: Despite recognition of the need for increased long-term support for people with aphasia following stroke, there remains limited evidence for effective service-level interventions.

Aims: To evaluate the outcomes and experiences of people participating in the Communication Hub for Aphasia in North Tyneside (CHANT), a 2-year partnership project between health, local authority and third-sector services, shaped by people with aphasia, which provided a coordinated programme of support and interventions for people with long-term aphasia following stroke.

Methods & Procedures: Quantitative and qualitative methods were used in the evaluation. Thirty-nine participants with aphasia were recruited to the 12-month study as they became part of CHANT, with 20 completing all measures at the end of the study. Participants had no other speech and language therapy during the study. Quantitative measures (before and after intervention) were used for quality of life, self-report outcomes and goal attainment. Three of the participants with aphasia and three further people involved in the service (carer, volunteer, public sector worker) each agreed to a series of five semi-structured interviews over a 9-month period. A total of 28 interviews were collected using neutral interviewers; these were transcribed and analysed by a team within NVivo8 software, based on interpretive principles from grounded theory. Thematic analysis of the narratives explored the experience of engaging with CHANT, and the barriers and facilitators affecting quality of life.

Outcomes & Results: People with aphasia made significant gains in quality of life (in particular, in communication and psychosocial adjustment to stroke) and self-report measures of change. A total of 82% of real-life goals set as part of intervention were fully or partially achieved at follow-up. Five core themes emerged from the narratives: ‘Quality of life’, ‘Barriers’, ‘Facilitators’, ‘Types of CHANT activity’ and ‘Effectiveness’. The intervention was evaluated through the theme of ‘Effectiveness’ in relation to the other themes, encapsulating emerging participant views (including the type and timeliness of activity, expectations of outcomes, resources and perceived value). The impact of the intervention was also analysed in terms of identifying barriers and providing facilitators.

Conclusions & Implications: The quantitative and qualitative (narrative) findings were complementary in demonstrating the effectiveness of the CHANT service delivery model. Moreover, the narratives, through a longitudinal perspective, provided evidence about people's experience of intervention for long-term aphasia. The findings provide foundations for further work into long-term recovery, intervention and adjustment to aphasia post-stroke.