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The Living with Dysarthria group : implementation and feasibility of a group intervention for people with dysarthria following stroke and family members

MacKenzie, Catherine and Paton, Gillian and Kelly, Shona and Brady, Marian and Muir, Margaret (2012) The Living with Dysarthria group : implementation and feasibility of a group intervention for people with dysarthria following stroke and family members. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, 47 (6). 709–724. ISSN 1368-2822

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The broad life implications of acquired dysarthria are recognised, but have received little attention in stroke management. Reports of group therapy, which may be a suitable approach to intervention, are not available for stroke related dysarthria. To examine the operational feasibility of and response to a new 8 session weekly group intervention programme, Living with Dysarthria, designed for people with chronic dysarthria following stroke and their main communication partners. The target participation was for programme completion by two groups of eight people with dysarthria (PWD) and available family members (FMs) or carers. An active recruitment strategy was undertaken from the speech and language therapy case records for the previous six years in two hospitals with combined annual stroke admissions of over 500. Twelve PWD and seven FMs were recruited (group 1: 7 PWD and 4 FMs; group 2: 5 PWD and 3FMs). Speech intelligibility, communication effectiveness, general wellbeing, quality of communication life and knowledge of stroke and dysarthria were assessed pre and post programme. Each PWD and FM also set an individual goal and rated their achievement of this on a 0-10 scale. Recruitment to the programme was lower than anticipated and below target. The 12 PWD were recruited from 62 initial contacts, which was the total number who according to available information met criteria. The programme was viable: it ran to plan, with only minor content alterations, in community accommodation, and with good participant engagement. Group median score changes were in a positive direction for all measures and effect sizes ranged from 0.17 (quality of communication life) to 0.46 (intelligibility). Significant post programme changes were present for intelligibility and knowledge of stroke and dysarthria (p = 0.05). Participants’ ratings of goal achievements ranged from 6 (some change) to 10 (a lot of change). The recruitment experience revealed a take-up rate of around 20% from people with dysarthria following stroke, informing future planning. The participant engagement and performance results from the piloting of the programme indicate that the Living with Dysarthria programme is viable and has potential for effecting positive change. Further testing is justified.