Lady Estelle Wolfson, Dr Katerina Hilari & Professor Sir Mark Walport

Awardee: Dr Katerina Hilari, City University

Award Type: Priority Programme Award (Clinical Trial)

Research Title:

Adjustment post stroke and aphasia

Description of research:

This project aims to find out if peer support can avert some of the adverse psychological consequences of aphasia, the language and communication disorder that affects about 15% of those who have a stroke. Stroke survivors with long-term aphasia will be trained as peer befrienders. They will be paired with individuals with aphasia who have had more recent strokes, e.g. to offer conversation, help with problem solving and social activities. The peer befrienders will start visiting the participants with aphasia soon after they are discharged from hospital; and will visit them 6-8 times.

The study will use a randomised controlled design. Sixty participants with aphasia will be recruited. All will receive the usual care offered by their Trust; but half (selected randomly) will also receive peer support. Participants will complete questionnaires e.g. on mood, confidence and social activity several times during the study. We aim to find out if those who receive peer support adjust better to life with stroke and aphasia than those who do not. ‘Significant others’, such as spouses, will also complete questionnaires. This will show whether those who are close to stroke survivors also feel the benefits of peer support. We will interview participants and significant others to gain insight into their experiences, and the personal significance of any changes. We will also calculate the costs of usual care and peer support (economic evaluation), to see what is the added value of peer support. Finally, we will explore the possible benefits for those who provide peer support, i.e. the peer befrienders, by interviewing them and testing their mood and feelings of self-esteem.