A Researcher’s ASHFoundation-Launched Quest for Answers Name: Michael Burns, PhD, CCC-SLP Title: Lecturer and researcher, Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences, University of Washington ASHFoundation Award: 2012 New Century Scholars Doctoral Scholarship ($10,000) My research focuses on helping people with communication disorders improve their access to quality health care services. Specifically, my research involves training ... Foundational Questions
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Foundational Questions  |   May 01, 2016
A Researcher’s ASHFoundation-Launched Quest for Answers
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ASHA News & Member Stories / Foundational Questions
Foundational Questions   |   May 01, 2016
A Researcher’s ASHFoundation-Launched Quest for Answers
The ASHA Leader, May 2016, Vol. 21, online only. doi:10.1044/leader.FQ.21052016.np
The ASHA Leader, May 2016, Vol. 21, online only. doi:10.1044/leader.FQ.21052016.np
Name: Michael Burns, PhD, CCC-SLP
Title: Lecturer and researcher, Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences, University of Washington
ASHFoundation Award: 2012 New Century Scholars Doctoral Scholarship ($10,000)
What is the focus of your research?
My research focuses on helping people with communication disorders improve their access to quality health care services. Specifically, my research involves training health care providers how to better communicate with patients with communication disorders. (See “Simulating Patient Communication Strategies” in the March 2016 issue).
How did your award from the ASHFoundation lead to your current work?
Receiving a New Century Scholars Award in 2013 helped fund the completion of my dissertation research, which explored the perspectives and experiences of people with aphasia, their family caregivers, and physicians during medical interactions. This research helped shape the content of the training that we use with health care providers.
We teach medical, nursing and rehabilitation students about the impact communication disorders can have on medical interactions, and give them strategies they can use to improve communication with their patients who struggle to communicate. The training consists of a combination of didactics, video/case scenario discussions, and hands-on role-play experiences so students can learn and practice these communication strategies with standardized patients (speech-language pathology students we have trained to portray communication disorders).
What do you hope to demonstrate through your research—or what has it already demonstrated?
We hope to demonstrate that delivering this training to health care providers can improve their understanding of how communication disorders can affect medical interactions, as well as increase their use of simple strategies to improve communication with patients with communication disorders. We are analyzing pre- and post-training data with medical, nursing and rehabilitation (physical therapy, occupational therapy, and prosthetics and orthotics) students at the University of Washington to determine the impact of this training.
Our preliminary analysis indicates improved student attitudes about and confidence in communicating with patients with communication disorders. We are also doing an analysis to determine any changes in provider behaviors (are they demonstrating new skills?) as a result of the training. We hypothesize the data will reflect an increased use of communication strategies post-training as well as an increase in the quality of interactions that occur. Student feedback about the usefulness of the training has been overwhelmingly positive.
Why did you choose this particular research focus?
As a clinician, I have seen firsthand how difficult it is for people with communication disorders to actively participate in their health care, and how health care providers struggle to provide quality services to these individuals because of communication breakdowns. Speech-language pathologists have the education and training to help improve these patient-provider interactions. As a researcher, I have the opportunity to help people with communication disorders improve their access to health care services by training their providers to better communicate with them and then to disseminate the results so that others can implement this approach.
How has ASHFoundation funding affected your professional life?
Funding from the ASHFoundation made it possible for me to complete my PhD program, and to jumpstart an important line of research that I am passionate about. I consider myself truly fortunate to have been selected for funding by the ASHFoundation.
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May 2016
Volume 21, Issue 5