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Delivering group support for people with aphasia in a virtual world: experiences of service providers

Caute, A., Cruice, M. ORCID: 0000-0001-7344-2262, Devane, N. ORCID: 0000-0001-8448-1478 , Patel, A., Roper, A. ORCID: 0000-0001-6950-6294, Talbot, R. ORCID: 0000-0001-5007-0785, Wilson, S. ORCID: 0000-0001-6445-654X & Marshall, J. ORCID: 0000-0002-6589-221X (2021). Delivering group support for people with aphasia in a virtual world: experiences of service providers. Disability and Rehabilitation, 44(26), pp. 8264-8282. doi: 10.1080/09638288.2021.2011436


PURPOSE: This study explored the acceptability to service providers of delivering a novel group support intervention for people with aphasia (PWA) in a virtual world.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: The service providers were six group coordinators and 10 volunteers. Fourteen of the service providers participated in a semi-structured qualitative interview and 15 took part in a consensus group discussion. Qualitative interviews were analysed using framework analysis. For consensus group discussions, nominal group rankings were analysed and semantically similar responses were identified.

RESULTS: Service providers described the virtual world as a safe space in which to communicate, connect, and experiment. The key barriers were technical, particularly relating to sound and connectivity issues. Service providers suggested a range of improvements to the virtual world and intervention programme. They reported that PWA benefitted from accessing a support group in a virtual world, with opportunities to connect socially and to develop their communication skills.

CONCLUSIONS: Service providers found delivery of group support intervention in a virtual world to be acceptable. The use of a bespoke virtual world to deliver group support intervention may enhance the experience and increase its accessibility, enabling more PWA to benefit from this type of intervention.Implications for rehabilitationPeople with aphasia benefit from group support intervention but may find it difficult to access face-to-face groups. Delivery of group support intervention in a virtual world is acceptable to service providers, can enhance the experience and increase accessibility of groups. Technical challenges present potential barriers when delivering group support in a virtual world, relating particularly to sound and connectivity. Potential benefits of this model of delivery, as perceived by service providers, include opportunities to connect socially and to develop communication skills plus specific and strong levels of enjoyment of the virtual context.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: Copyright: 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way
Publisher Keywords: Aphasia group support, intervention, service provider, telerehabilitation, virtual world
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Language & Communication Science
School of Science & Technology > Computer Science
SWORD Depositor:
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