Alison Milne

2012-2013 Joint winner supervised by Carol Sacchett (UCL)

“A study to investigate the influence of familiar and unfamiliar communication partners on the effectiveness and efficiency of message transaction using total communication with a person with aphasia”

My project was a single case study which investigated the effect of communication partner familiarity on the effectiveness and efficiency of message transaction with a total communication user (CH).   It is important to note that the unfamiliar communication partner had received general information and education regarding communication with individuals who have aphasia whereas the familiar communication partner had not. CH watched 20 video clips, one at time, and was asked to convey the information to his communication partner. Familiarity of communication partner was not significant for message effectiveness. However, familiarity of communication partner was significant for one measure of efficiency, number of turns taken to convey the message. Qualitative analysis of a sample of clips suggested that the difference in the number of turns taken (the unfamiliar communication partner took fewer turns than the familiar communication partner) was a result of the difference in gesture use by the communication partners (the unfamiliar communication partner used more gestures than the familiar communication partner).  It was hypothesised that the unfamiliar communication partner’s greater gesture use enhanced the understanding of CH, allowing CH to give clearer responses reducing the number of turns required. The findings of this study suggest that the significant result for communication efficiency was the result of the unfamiliar communication partner having received general education and information.  This study, therefore, supports communication partner training to improve the efficiency of communication with individuals with aphasia.