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Am J Speech Lang Pathol. 2015 May;24(2):272-80. doi: 10.1044/2015_AJSLP-14-0057.

What's on Your Mind? Conversation Topics Chosen by People With Degenerative Cognitive-Linguistic Disorders for Communication Boards.



Conversational topics chosen by a group of adults with degenerative cognitive-linguistic disorders for personalized communication board development were examined. The patient-generated themes commonly selected are presented to guide treatment planning and communication board development.


Communication boards were created for 109 adults as part of a larger research project. One autobiographical topic that each participant would enjoy discussing multiple times was represented on each communication board with 16 pictures and word labels. For this review, topics were collapsed into general themes through a consensus process and examined by gender and age.


Sixty unique conversational topics were identified from 109 participants and collapsed into 9 general themes: Hobbies, Family, Travel, Work, Home/Places I've Lived, Sports/Fitness, Religion, Animals, and World War II. Age and gender produced variations in themes chosen, though no significance in rank orders was found across groups.


Topics selected by adults with degenerative cognitive-linguistic disorders for communication boards resemble common conversational adult themes and do not center around basic needs or medical issues. Differences in gender and age for topic selection tend to be based on traditional roles. These general themes should be used when creating personalized communication boards for those who benefit from conversational aids.

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