Review article (meta-analysis)| Volume 97, ISSUE 12, P2202-2221.e8, December 2016

Communication Partner Training in Aphasia: An Updated Systematic Review

Published:April 23, 2016DOI:



      To update a previous systematic review describing the effect of communication partner training on individuals with aphasia and their communication partners, with clinical questions addressing effects of partner training on language, communication activity/participation, psychosocial adjustment, and quality of life.

      Data Sources

      Twelve electronic databases were searched using 23 search terms. References from relevant articles were hand searched.

      Study Selection

      Three reviewers independently reviewed abstracts, excluding those that failed to meet inclusion criteria. Thirty-two full text articles were reviewed by 2 independent reviewers. Articles not meeting inclusion criteria were eliminated, resulting in a corpus of 25 articles for full review.

      Data Extraction

      For the 25 articles, 1 reviewer extracted descriptive data regarding participants, intervention, outcome measures, and results. A second reviewer verified the accuracy of the extracted data.

      Data Synthesis

      The 3-member review team classified studies using the American Academy of Neurology levels of evidence. Two independent reviewers evaluated each article using design-specific tools to assess research quality.


      All 25 of the current review articles reported positive changes from partner training. Therefore, to date, 56 studies across 2 systematic reviews have reported positive outcomes from communication partner training in aphasia. The results of the current review are consistent with the previous review and necessitate no change to the earlier recommendations, suggesting that communication partner training should be conducted to improve partner skill in facilitating the communication of people with chronic aphasia. Additional high-quality research is needed to strengthen the original 2010 recommendations and expand recommendations to individuals with acute aphasia. High-quality clinical trials are also needed to demonstrate implementation of communication partner training in complex environments (eg, health care).


      List of abbreviations:

      AAN (American Academy of Neurology), PEDro (Physiotherapy Evidence Database), PWA (persons with aphasia), SCED (Single Case Experimental Design)
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