Candidacy for conversation partner training in aphasia: findings from a Dutch implementation study

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Wielaert, Sandra M. ; Sage, Karen ; Heijenbrok-Kal, Majanka H. ; Van De Sandt-Koenderman, W.M. (2016)

Background: Aphasia rehabilitation should comprise a family-centred approach, involving main conversation partners in the rehabilitation process as soon as possible. A standardised approach to conversation partner training (CPT) became available in the Netherlands with the release of Partners of Aphasic clients Conversation Training (PACT). PACT was introduced in clinical practice in a multicentre implementation study with 34 participating dyads.\ud Aims: To explore candidacy for CPT by describing the characteristics of dyads where the conversation partner engaged in CPT and to identify which characteristics had the potential to predict benefit of PACT.\ud Methods & procedures: A multicentre study with pre-post treatment design. Pre and post CPT measures of psychosocial characteristics (caregiver burden, depression, coping) from the partner and behavioural characteristics (cognitive, linguistic and communicative) from the person with aphasia were collected. Partner experience was assessed using four scales from the Intrinsic Motivation Inventory and a generic satisfaction rating (1-10). Pre-post measures were analysed using paired T-tests and Wilcoxon signed ranks tests. Multiple regression analyses were used to assess potential predictors of training outcomes.\ud Outcomes & results: Partners of people with moderate to severe aphasia engaged in PACT when it was first introduced in clinical practice (N=34 dyads). Mean time post onset was 11.5 months. Partners enjoyed the practical training in which they actively engaged through experiential learning methods. Partner scores increased significantly over the intervention time on task-oriented and avoidance-oriented coping skills and their symptoms of depression lowered significantly. Caregiver esteem was found to be a positive predictor of feelings of competence and enjoyment with the training. Older partners enjoyed the training less. More effort was given to the training by the partner when the aphasia was more severe.\ud Conclusions:\ud This study underlined the importance of partner characteristics, such as motivation, coping style and a positive outlook on caregiving as possible selection criteria for conversation partner training.
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