Patient-centered communication strategies for patients with aphasia: Discrepancies between what patients want and what physicians do

Megan A. Morris, Marla L. Clayman, Kaitlin J. Peters, Aaron L. Leppin, Annie Leblanc

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Background Communication during clinical encounters can be challenging with patients with communication disabilities. Physicians have the potential to positively affect the encounter by using communication strategies that engage the patient in patient-centered communication. Objective We engaged patients and their physicians in defining their preferences for patient-centered communication strategies, then evaluated the use of the identified strategies during observed clinical encounters. Methods We video-recorded 25 clinical encounters with persons with aphasia. All encounters were previously scheduled with community physicians and a companion was present. Following each encounter, physicians completed a brief questionnaire and the person with aphasia and his or her companion participated in a video elicitation interview. Results While many of the communication strategies identified and described by physicians, patients and companions were similar, patients and companions identified three additional key communication strategies. These strategies included (1) using visual aids, (2) writing down key words while speaking, and (3) using gestures. In the video recorded clinical encounters, no physicians wrote down key words while speaking and only one used a visual aid during the clinical encounter. The frequency with which physicians used gestures varied greatly, even within the same patient, suggesting the use of gestures was independent of patient or companion characteristics. Conclusions To maximize patient-centered communication with patients with communication disabilities, physicians should use "disability-specific" communication strategies. Our study suggests that physicians should routinely ask patients and companions about communication preferences and then incorporate identified communication strategies into their communication style.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)208-215
Number of pages8
JournalDisability and Health Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015


  • Communication disability
  • Mixed-methods
  • Patient-centered communication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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