Peer-to-peer support: digital networking in aphasia to improve quality of life (PeerPAL)

  • Background: People with aphasia (PWA) often suffer from reduced participation and quality of life. Nevertheless, there are currently only a few specific interventions that respond to this problem. Participation and quality of life could be increased by interacting with peers who have similar experiences. Digital social networks could stimulate an autonomous interaction. However, digital social networks need to be adapted to the specific needs of PWA. Therefore, a participatory, agile process involving the target group should be chosen to develop such a olution, i.e., an app. The research project consists of a total of three phases. In the first phase—app development—the app was developed and programmed including the target group. In the second phase—app testing—the usability and user-friendliness of the app were evaluated with four PWA. In the third phase—feasibility and preliminary effcacy—that will be described in the article, the impact of the app on PWA will be evaluated. Aims: The overarching aim of our study is to provide preliminary effcacy of the intervention. Digital social interaction with other PWA can lead to increased social integration. In addition to digital interaction, personal encounters between PWA should be encouraged. As a result, we expect an improvement in quality of life of PWA. Additionally, we focus on identification of the most appropriate measurements to discover changes associated with the intervention. Methods: The evaluation, which is described in this paper, takes place in a pre-test - post-test design with a total of n = 48 PWA. Participants will be recruited in regional clusters to facilitate face-to-face meetings. Half of the participants will be assigned to the delayed intervention group and the other half to the immediate intervention group. Participants in the delayed intervention group will go through a 3-month waiting period before using the app, while the participants of the immediate intervention group will start using the app for 3 months right away. Inclusion criteria are the presence of chronic aphasia (at least 6 months) and possession of a smartphone with internet access. Questionnaires on quality of life (SAQOL-39, GHQ-12), depression (GDS, DISCs), communicative participation (CPIB), and social support (F-SozU) will be conducted at inclusion (t0), after 3 months of app use (t1), and after another 3 months for follow-up (t2). Participants in the delayed intervention group will be assessed twice before the intervention, before the 3-month waiting period (t0a) and after the waiting period (t0b). In addition to the quantitative measures, interviews will take place with 6 to 8 selected participants after 3 months of app use. Responses will be analysed using Thematic Analysis. Discussion: The app will be the first social network tool that is systematically developed with PWA. Initial indications from the first phases are that the app can be used by PWA, so that the evaluation of this app version can take place in the third phase. Results of this study can provide an initial indication of whether social network support is a suitable intervention. Findings will help provide information on the feasibility of digital connectivity for PWA. Preliminary findings on its impact on the participation and quality of life of PWA could be made available.

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Author:Christina Kurfess, Sabine Corsten, Maren Tabea Nickel, Marie Knieriemen, Daniel Kreiter, Norina LauerORCiDGND
Parent Title (English):Frontiers in Communication
Publisher:Frontiers Media S.A.
Document Type:Article
Year of first Publication:2023
Publishing Institution:Ostbayerische Technische Hochschule Regensburg
Release Date:2023/09/19
Tag:peer-to-peer support
GND Keyword:Aphasie; Partizipation; Lebensqualität; Soziales Netzwerk
Article Number:1187233
Institutes:Fakultät Angewandte Sozial- und Gesundheitswissenschaften
Regensburg Center of Health Sciences and Technology - RCHST
OpenAccess Publikationsweg:Gold Open Access- Erstveröffentlichung in einem/als Open-Access-Medium
research focus:Lebenswissenschaften und Ethik
Licence (German):Creative Commons - CC BY - Namensnennung 4.0 International