Stroke communication partner training: a national survey of 122 clinicians on current practice patterns and perceived implementation barriers and facilitators

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Journal Article
International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, 2018, 53 (6), pp. 1094 - 1109
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© 2018 Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists Background: Communication partners (CPs) find it challenging to communicate with people with communication disorders post-stroke. Stroke communication partner training (CPT) can enhance CPs’ ability to support the communication and participation of people post-stroke. While evidence for the efficacy of aphasia-based CPT is strong, implementation in healthcare settings is unclear. Aims: To investigate Australian speech pathologists’ current stroke CPT practices, factors influencing the implementation of CPT and how reported practice compares with the research evidence. Methods & Procedures: Speech pathologists in Australia who had worked with people post-stroke were invited to complete a 99-item online survey. The survey was informed by a comprehensive review of the literature review, the Template for Intervention Description and Replication (TIDieR) intervention taxonomy, and the theoretical domains framework. data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and content analysis. Outcomes & Results: A total of 122 clinicians were surveyed. Most participants reported providing CPT to treat a range of post-stroke communication disorders. While 98.3% reported training familiar CPs, only 66.1% reported training unfamiliar CPs. Current stroke CPT practice is characterized by one to two < 1 h sessions of informal face-to-face education and skills training. Only 13.3% and 10.0% of participants used evidence-based published programmes with unfamiliar and familiar CPs respectively. The main barriers included the perceived lack of behavioural regulation, skills, reinforcement, beliefs about consequences, positive social influences and resources. The main facilitators included clinicians’ intentions to provide CPT, perception of CPT as part of their role and perceived compatibility of CPT with clinical practice. Conclusion & Implications: A significant evidence–practice gap exists. Research exploring the implementation of stroke CPT in healthcare settings, expanding evidence to support CPT for the range of post-stroke communication disorders, developing freely accessible step-by-step CPT programmes that consider restrictions in current practice and providing explicit instructions of CPT best practice are warranted. A supportive workplace culture and freely accessible formal training opportunities are also needed.
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