Dr Sarah Northcott
Stroke Association Jack and Averil (Mansfield) Bradley Fellowship Award
Description of research
Around one quarter of stroke survivors have aphasia, which means they have difficulty talking, understanding, reading or writing. People with aphasia are at risk of becoming depressed and isolated. However, due to their language difficulties they are often excluded from stroke research exploring effective interventions.
This study will explore whether an existing therapy, Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT), can be used for people with aphasia. Information will also be collected to design a future large-scale trial evaluating this approach. SFBT is a ‘talking therapy’, which explores a person’s strengths and resilience to help build positive change in their lives.
There will be two stages to the project. An investigation of how best to adapt the therapy for people with post-stroke aphasia will be conducted during the initial development stage. A therapy manual will also be written.
For the second stage of the project, 32 people with long-term aphasia will be invited to participate. Everyone will receive the usual care offered to them by their local NHS, social services, and voluntary organisations. Selected randomly, participants will be assigned to one of two groups: the intervention group and waitlist control group. The intervention group will receive up to six SFBT sessions spaced over three months. They will be assessed immediately prior to the therapy (at time one), immediately post therapy (at time two), and three months later (time three).
The waitlist control group will also be assessed at these three time points, and will then be offered the same therapy after time three. During the assessment sessions participants will be asked about how their aphasia affects their mood, well-being and social participation using questionnaires designed to be accessible to people with aphasia. In addition, ‘in-depth’, less-structured interviews will be used to explore participants’ experiences of the therapy.
It's expected that it will be possible to adapt SFBT so that it works well for people with aphasia; and that this project will inform the design of a successful large-scale study.