Fidelity to a motivational interviewing intervention for those with post-stroke aphasia: a small-scale feasibility study

Objective: Depression after stroke is common, and talk-based psychological therapies can be a useful intervention. While a third of stroke survivors will experience communication difficulties impeding participation in talk-based therapies, little guidance exists to guide delivery for those with aphasia. We need to understand how to adapt talk-based therapies in the presence of aphasia. This study aimed to explore the feasibility of motivational interviewing (MI) in people with post-stroke aphasia.

Methods: In a small-scale feasibility study, consecutive patients admitted to an acute stroke ward were screened for eligibility. People with moderate to severe aphasia were eligible. Those consenting received an intervention consisting of up to eight MI sessions delivered twice per week over four weeks. Sessions were modified using aids and adaptations for aphasia. Session quality was measured using the Motivational Interviewing Skills Code (MISC) to assess MI fidelity.

Results: Three consenting patients identified early post-stroke took part; one male and two females ages ranging between 40s and 80s. Participants attended between five and eight MI sessions over four weeks. Aids and adaptations included visual cues, rating scales, and modified reflections incorporating verbal and non-verbal behaviors. Sessions were tailored to individual participant need. Threshold MISC ratings could be achieved for all participants however, ratings were reduced when aids and adaptations were not used.

Discussion: This small-scale feasibility study suggests that it is feasible to adapt MI for people with moderate to severe post-stroke aphasia. These findings merit further exploration of adapted MI as an intervention for this patient group.