Young, Alys, Gomersall, Tim and Bowen, Audrey (2013) Trial participants' experiences of early enhanced speech and language therapy after stroke compared with employed visitor support: a qualitative study nested within a randomized controlled trial. Clinical Rehabilitation, 27 (2). pp. 174-182. ISSN 0269-2155

Objectives: To explore trial participants’ experiences of the process and outcomes of early, enhanced speech and language therapy after stroke with support from an employed visitor.
Design: Qualitative study nested within a randomized controlled trial.
Participants: Twney-two people who, after stroke, had a diagnosis of aphasia (12), dysarthria (5) or both (5) and who participated in the ACT NoW study.
Setting: Eight English NHS usual care settings.
Method: Individual interviews. Thematic content analysis assisted by a bespoke data transformation protocol for incorporating non-verbal and semantically ambiguous data.
Results: Participants highly regarded regular and sustained contact with someone outside of immediate family/friends who engaged them in deliberate activities/communication in the early months after stroke. Participants identified differences in the process of intervention between speech and language therapists and employed visitors. But no major discriminations were made between the impact or value of this contact according to whether provided by a speech and language therapist or employed visitor. Participant-defined criteria for effectiveness of contact included: impact on mood and confidence, self-recognition of progress and the meeting of individual needs.
Conclusions: As in the randomized controlled trial, participants reported no evidence of added benefit of early communication therapy beyond that from attention control. The findings do not imply that regular contact with any non-professional can have beneficial effects for someone with aphasia or dysarthria in the early weeks following a stroke. The study points to specific conditions that would have to be met for contact to have a positive effect.

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