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Int J Lang Commun Disord. 1998;33 Suppl:96-101.

A hidden client group? Communication impairment in hospice patients.

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St Nicholas' Health Centre, Burnley, Lancs.


Retrospective research has identified communication impairment in over a quarter of hospice patients (Jackson et al. 1996) but this field has not been investigated using speech and language therapy assessments. The present study assessed a sample of 12 hospice patients using tests of verbal learning and recall, word-finding, sentence comprehension and motor speech. Eleven patients experienced difficulties in one or more areas of assessment. Possible reasons are discussed, including the effects of patients' illness and treatment and changes in mood or cognitive functioning. A role for speech and language therapy is proposed, in terms of assessment, advice and training. Further research is suggested to help establish the extent of impairment and define a role for speech and language therapy.

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