Background: Previous research has identified that many patients admitted into acute hospital stroke units have communication-related impairments such as hearing, vision, speech, language and/or cognitive communicative impairment. However, no research has identified how many patients in acute hospital stroke units have difficulty actually communicating their healthcare needs. The World Health Organization’s International Classification of Functioning,Disability andHealth (ICF) conceptualizes difficulty communicating about healthcare needs as a type of activity limitation, within the Activity and Participation component. The ICF proposes that activity limitation can be measured in four different ways. Aims: The first aim of this research was to measure a patient’s difficulty communicating his or her healthcare needs, that is, activity limitation, in two of the four ways suggested by the ICF when interacting with healthcare providers. The second aim was to investigate whether communication-related impairments in hearing, vision, speech, language and/or cognitive communicative impairment predict difficulty communicating healthcare needs, measured in these ways. Methods & Procedures: A total of 65 patients consecutively admitted into two acute hospital stroke units in Melbourne, Australia, who consented to this research participated in this study. Early in their admission participants were screened for hearing, vision, speech, language and cognitive communicative impairment. Participants were also assessed for difficulty communicating about healthcare needs in two ways proposed by the ICF: ‘capacity with assistance’ and ‘performance’. Relationships between communication-related impairment and both capacity with assistance and performance were explored through Spearman’s correlations and binary logistic regression. Outcomes & Results: A total of 87% of patients had one or more communication-related impairments. Half of the patients (51%) had difficulty communicating their healthcare needs when assessed in terms of capacity with assistance. Slightly more patients (55%) were observed to have difficulty communicating their healthcare needs when assessed in terms of performance. More severe vision, speech, language and cognitive communicative impairment were significantly associated with more severe difficulty communicating healthcare needs. onclusions & Implications: About half of the stroke patients admitted into acute hospital stroke units had difficulty communicating their healthcare needs. Patients with more severe communication-related impairments had more severe difficulty communicating their healthcare needs. Future research is needed to understand the other factors that influence communication between people with communication disabilities and their healthcare providers in acute hospital settings.
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This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Stroke patients communicating their healthcare needs in hospital: a study within the ICF framework / Robyn O'Halloran, Linda Worrall and Louise Hickson. In: International journal of language & communication disorders, 47(2): 130-143, 2012. which has been published in final form at http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-6984.2011.00077.x (Please note: access via this link may only be available with a subscription).