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Aphasia blog talk: How does stroke and aphasia affect a person’s social relationships?

Fotiadou, D., Northcott, S., Chatzidaki, A. & Hilari, K. (2014). Aphasia blog talk: How does stroke and aphasia affect a person’s social relationships?. Aphasiology, 28(11), pp. 1281-1300. doi: 10.1080/02687038.2014.928664


Background: Stroke and aphasia can negatively affect a person’s ability to maintain healthy social relationships, both within the family and also with friends and the wider network. To date, this has been explored predominantly through qualitative interviews and questionnaires. Blogs written by people with aphasia constitute a novel source of data, comprised of people’s own voices on issues that are of concern to them.

Aims: To explore the impact of stroke and aphasia on a person’s relationships with family, friends and the wider network through analysing blogs written by people with aphasia.

Methods & Procedures: Blog search engines were used to identify blogs sustained by a sole author who had aphasia following a stroke, and which reflected on their social network. The data were analysed qualitatively using framework analysis.

Outcomes & Results: The systematic search resulted in 10 relevant blogs. Participants were aged between 26 and 69 years old, lived in the community, were at least 1 year post stroke and included six women and four men. Aphasia was a consistent thread running through the blogs affecting conversations with all parts of a person’s network and impacting on participants’ sense of self. They found it more difficult to take part in family activities and described higher degrees of dependence and changed family dynamics. Contact with friends was reduced, partly due to communication and physical difficulties. While some participants became motivated to become members of groups post stroke, contact with the wider network sometimes diminished, in part because of loss of work and community activities. An additional factor impacting on social relationships was other people’s positive or negative reaction towards the person with aphasia. Finally, the blogs reflected on the importance of support they had received, both from close family and also from the wider community.

Conclusions: This study found that social relationships played a crucial role in people’s lives following a stroke and aphasia. Nonetheless, family relationships, friendships and social exchanges within the wider social network were all substantially affected. Exploring this area through online narratives offered a rich and highly authentic source of data. The findings suggest that clinicians should incorporate social approaches in rehabilitation and consider ways to foster the maintenance of social networks. The use of social media by people with aphasia should be further explored, both as a therapeutic outlet and also as a way for people with aphasia to feel connected to a wider community.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Author's Original Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis Group in Aphasiology on 19th June 2014, available online: Article in press.
Publisher Keywords: Aphasia, Blogs, Impact, Relationships
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Language & Communication Science
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