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A narrative analysis of a speech pathologist's work with indigenous Australians with acquired communication disorders

Deborah Hersh, Elizabeth Armstrong, Noni Bourke,

Academic Literature


Purpose: To explore in detail the narrative of a speech pathologist (SP) working with Indigenous Australian clients with acquired communication disorders following stroke or brain injury. There is some evidence that Indigenous clients do not find speech pathology rehabilitation to be culturally appropriate but, currently, there is very little published on the nature of this service or the experiences of SPs who provide this rehabilitation. Methods: This research uses both thematic and structural narrative analysis of data from a semi-structured, in-depth interview with a SP to examine the adaptations that she made to address the needs of her adult neurological caseload of (mainly) Indigenous Australians from both urban and remote regions. Results: The thematic analysis resulted in a core theme of flexibility and four other sub-themes: awareness of cultural context, client focus/person-centredness, being practical and working ethically. The structural narrative analysis allowed insight into the nature of clinical reasoning in a context lacking predictability and where previous clinical certainties required adaptation. Conclusions: Individual, detailed narratives are useful in exposing the challenges and clinical reasoning behind culturally sensitive practice. Implications for Rehabilitation Speech pathologists (SPs) can learn from hearing the clinical stories of colleagues with experience of providing rehabilitation in culturally diverse contexts, as well as from ongoing training in culturally competent and safe practices. Such stories help bridge understanding from the general to the particular. SPs working with Indigenous Australians with acquired communication disorders post-stroke and brain injury may find it helpful to consider how the themes, drawn from an interview with the clinician in this study-flexibility, awareness of cultural context, person-centredness, being practical and working ethically-might apply to their practice. Narratives may be helpful in staff training and form an important part of the SP evidence base. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)

Publication information

Journal/Publication : Disability and Rehabilitation: An International, Multidisciplinary Journal

Domain/s: Transport and communication

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