“Like being in a foreign country”: Communication Issues for People who have had Strokes


Dr Rachel Povey

Trainee Health Psychologist Louise Clancy together with her supervisor Dr Rachel Povey (Senior Lecturer in Health Psychology) are conducting research into the experiences of stroke patients with communication difficulties. Louise, whose placement is at Bradford Hospitals NHS Trust, has already conducted a systematic review and an interview study to examine patients’ communication difficulties, and is now recruiting for a quantitative study which looks at the differences in people with and without communication difficulties after having a stroke.

Communication difficulties after having a stroke are very common with about a third of stroke patients having problems with communicating including speaking, reading and understanding what other people are saying (known as aphasia). The interest for this research came from Louise’s experiences of working in a stroke rehabilitation setting both in the UK and Australia.

Louise explains: “via working in stroke care settings and conducting research in this area I have observed the physical, emotional, cognitive and social challenges faced as a consequence of stroke and have become passionate about facilitating the voices of this group in being heard”.

The findings from all three studies will be used to inform future training programmes for healthcare professionals who work with people with post-stroke aphasia.

May16 Povey Health Stroke 1

The systematic review was completed, together with Dr Greg Norris, a Consultant Clinical Neuropsychologist, and looked at communication interventions developed for healthcare professionals working with patients with post stroke communication difficulties. The findings showed that these interventions were beneficial to staff and patients, although time and financial constraints are common issues which can be a key barrier to attending training. The interview study aimed to explore in depth the experiences of staff-patient communication within inpatient stroke care settings. Louise interviewed patients and carers as well as healthcare professionals in order to get an overall view of the issues.  The interviews gave an excellent insight into the issues faced by all three groups, with communication issues for people with stroke being likened to “being in a foreign country”. The final piece of research is being conducted using an online questionnaire and is aiming to look at the differences between people with and without communication difficulties after having a stroke.

Louise is conducting this research with the support of Dr Lyndsey Hall-Patch (Clinical Neuropsychologist) and her Academic Supervisor Dr Rachel Povey. If you have had a stroke, and would like to be a part of this interesting study, please go to: http://bit.ly/22gYrg0 to find out more details.

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Staffordshire University’s Centre for Health Psychology is a Psy1centre of excellence for teaching and research in Health Psychology, and is home to Staffordshire’s BPS Accredited Stage 1 MSc in Health Psychology and BPS Accredited Stage 2 Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology. The Centre for Health Psychology is part of the School of Psychology, Sport and Exercise, one of the leading research-active academic schools for Psychology and Sport degrees situated in the heart of England.

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