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Clinician at Melbourne Health earns PhD from La Trobe on the spousal experience of aphasia
ARCH News
/ Categories: Melbourne Health

Clinician at Melbourne Health earns PhD from La Trobe on the spousal experience of aphasia

Despite the pivotal role that spouses play in supporting their partner diagnosed with Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA), little is known about how they deal with and face the challenges associated with this progressive condition and it’s ongoing decline of communication abilities. 

The investigation yielded four published papers (links below), and collectively the studies revealed the complex interpersonal and relational implications faced by spouses across the illness trajectory. The research findings also enabled the development of a conceptual model which captured key aspects of the spousal experience of PPA. 

It emphasises the importance for clinicians to consider and address the relationship consequences of living with PPA from the perspective of spouses, specifically managing their sense of self in the context of changing relational connectivity with their partner and social world. 

The research strongly indicates that spouses and their partner are likely to require guidance and support to reframe and renegotiate the relational aspects of their spousal relationship, as well as ‘re-calibrate’ their sense-of-self to assist them to negotiate the challenges of PPA.

Supervised by Professor Jacinta Douglas of La Trobe University, Dr Pozzebon commented “Professor Douglas and the La Trobe environment supported me to generate the start of a body of evidence that will help improve something I often see in my clinical work.” 
Professor Douglas praised the work of Dr Pozzebon, commenting “Margaret's doctoral research has made a substantial contribution to our understanding of the experience of spouses caring for their partners with dementia characterised by early changes in communication ability. With the insight of an experienced clinician, Margaret was able to craft a project that has direct relevance to practice clinical practice.”


The published papers:

Pozzebon M., Douglas J., Ames D. Facing the challenges of primary progressive aphasia: The spousal perspective.  Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research.  61:2292-2312. 2018  [https://doi.org/10.1044/2018_JSLHR-L-17-0492]

Pozzebon M., Douglas J., Ames D. Spousal recollections of early signs of primary progressive aphasia.  International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders.  53:282-293. 2018 [https://doi.org/10.1111/1460-6984.12347]

Pozzebon M., Douglas J., Ames D. “It was a terrible, terrible journey”: an instrumental case study of a spouse’s experience of living with a partner diagnosed with semantic variant primary progressive aphasia.  Aphasiology.  31:375-387. 2017 [https://doi.org/10.1080/02687038.2016.1230840]

Pozzebon M., Douglas J., Ames D. Spouses' experience of living with a partner diagnosed with a dementia: a synthesis of the qualitative research.  International Psychogeriatrics.  28:537-556. 2016 [https://doi.org/10.1017/S1041610215002239

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