A qualitative study of interference with communicative participation across communication disorders in adults

Am J Speech Lang Pathol. 2011 Nov;20(4):269-87. doi: 10.1044/1058-0360(2011/10-0084). Epub 2011 Aug 3.


Purpose: To explore the similarities and differences in self-reported restrictions in communicative participation across different communication disorders in community-dwelling adults.

Method: Interviews were conducted with 44 adults representing 7 different medical conditions: spasmodic dysphonia, multiple sclerosis, stroke, stuttering, Parkinson's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and laryngectomy. This article represents a secondary analysis of qualitative data collected in cognitive interviews during development of the Communicative Participation Item Bank. The data were analyzed to identify themes in participants' experiences related to communicative participation.

Results: Participants described many situations in which they experienced interference in communicative participation. Two themes emerged from the data. The first theme was Interference is both "functional" and "emotional," in which participants defined interference as limitations in accomplishing tasks and emotional consequences. The second theme was "It depends"-sources of interference, in which participants described many variables that contribute to interference in participation. Participants had limited control of some variables such as symptoms and environmental contexts, but personal decisions and priorities also influenced participation.

Conclusions: Despite different impairments and activity limitations, participants described similar communicative participation restrictions. These similarities may have theoretical and clinical implications in terms of how we assess, treat, and study the participation restrictions associated with communication disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / complications
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / physiopathology
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / psychology
  • Communication Barriers*
  • Dysphonia / physiopathology
  • Dysphonia / psychology*
  • Emotions
  • Environment
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / complications
  • Multiple Sclerosis / physiopathology
  • Multiple Sclerosis / psychology
  • Noise
  • Parkinson Disease / complications
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology
  • Parkinson Disease / psychology
  • Qualitative Research
  • Social Behavior*
  • Stroke / complications
  • Stroke / physiopathology
  • Stroke / psychology
  • Stuttering / physiopathology
  • Stuttering / psychology*
  • Voice Disorders / etiology
  • Voice Disorders / physiopathology
  • Voice Disorders / psychology*