Purpose: Decreased social participation is one consequence of aphasia that can lead to poor psychological health and reduced quality of life. Involving people with aphasia in advocacy efforts may be one solution for increasing their social participation. The present study investigated the benefits of a campus program for three people with mild aphasia who were involved in educating allied health students about aphasia and training them to communicate with those who have aphasia.
Methods: Three participants with aphasia shared their stories and interacted with interdisciplinary students in two seminar sessions aimed at educating students about aphasia and helping them learn strategies for supportive communication with people with aphasia. A mixed-method analysis approach was used to assess the effects of the program. Quantitative data were obtained via pre- and post-program survey questionnaires. Qualitative data were acquired through focus group interviews.
Results: Scores on questionnaires related to communication confidence or social participation were greater following program participation for all three participants with aphasia and quality of communication life scores were greater for one. Thematic coding of focus group data confirmed that participants with aphasia and their spouses perceived benefits to program participation including increased social access and improved self-concept.
Conclusions: Findings suggest that participation in community education efforts may lead to increased social participation and communication confidence for people with aphasia.