Participant information statement

Dear Speech Pathologist,

You are invited to participate in the research project identified above which is being conducted by Dr Joanne Steel and Dr Liz Spencer (Speech Pathology lecturers) from the School of Humanities and Social Science at the University of Newcastle. The research is part of Ivania Coluccio’s speech pathology honours research at the University of Newcastle, supervised by Dr Joanne Steel and Dr Liz Spencer.

Why is the research being done?
The purpose of the research is to investigate how speech pathologists assess and treat spoken discourse impairments after traumatic brain injury (TBI). Spoken discourse (e.g. telling anecdotes, relating personal events, engaging in conversation) is one of the most commonly affected and persisting areas of impairment for people after TBI (Ponsford et al., 2014). Recent guidelines for speech pathologists working in TBI emphasised prioritising spoken discourse and interaction skills (Togher et al., 2014). Despite considerable research literature reporting on the nature of these spoken discourse impairments (e.g. Coelho, 2013), little is known on how speech pathologists assess and treat discourse clinically. This indicates a significant gap in research evidence to clinical practice, which this study aims to address.

Who can participate in the research?
You are invited to participate in this research if you are a speech pathologist working with adults with TBI, in any clinical setting, either in Australia or internationally. If you are not working with people who have had a TBI or if you do work not as a speech pathologist, then unfortunately you are not eligible to participate. 

What would you be asked to do?
If you agree to participate, you will be asked to complete an online survey questionnaire in SurveyMonkey about management of spoken discourse after TBI, taking up to 30 minutes. Survey questions will ask about levels of experience of working with people with TBI, workplace settings, and the types of spoken discourse assessment, analysis and treatment approaches used. In answering these questions, participants will need to select answers from a list of options and optionally provide short answer questions.  The survey should be completed in one sitting in order to be included in the research.

At the end of the survey, you will also be asked if you would like to be sent information about planned future research, an interview conducted by the researchers, and/or assist with recruitment amongst your network. The consent is entirely your choice and you have the option to refuse your prior consent at any time without any disadvantages or consequences. If you are interested in taking part in an interview, at the end of the survey you have the option to click a separate link to register your contact details (name and email) to be listed on a secure database. This will ensure that there is no connection between the anonymous questionnaire and your personal details. 

What choice do you have?
Participation in this research is entirely your choice.  Only those people who give their informed consent will be included in the project.  Whether or not you decide to participate, your decision will not disadvantage you. If you do decide to participate, you may withdraw from the project at any time prior to submitting your completed questionnaire.  Please note that due to the anonymous nature of the questionnaire, you will not be able to withdraw your response after it has been submitted.

What are the risks and benefits of participating?
While there may be no direct benefit to your participation, you will have the opportunity to reflect on your personal experience and views working with spoken discourse after TBI, and in the future, help improve the service offered by speech pathologists.