Engagement in small group interactions involving persons with primary progressive aphasia


  • Chelsea Alcala MedTravelers
  • Melinda Corwin Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
  • Tobias Kroll Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
  • Melissa Whitaker Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center




Primary progressive aphasia, Small group, Engagement, Qualitative, Interaction


Purpose: In group therapy, participant engagement is integral for achieving effective and meaningful interactions. Engagement is necessary not only for ensuring participation in the group, but also for promoting overall life engagement. Although engagement is vital to group therapy, it has remained largely unstudied, particularly in treatment for persons with primary progressive aphasia.

Methods: Using samples from a videotaped small group interaction involving two graduate student clinicians and two persons with primary progressive aphasia, conversational actions contributing to engagement were identified and analyzed via content analysis and principles of conversation analysis.

Results: Conversational actions resulting in engagement included clinician-appointed turns, participant affirmation, and member support. These conversational actions were found to maintain and/or increase wavering levels of participant engagement.

Discussion: Findings for the study yielded clinical applications for clinician promotion of engagement during small group interactions involving persons with primary progressive aphasia to increase participant involvement and maximize therapeutic outcomes.

Author Biographies

Chelsea Alcala, MedTravelers

Chelsea Alcala, MS, CF-SLP, received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Dallas, and a master’s degree from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. She is currently in the process of completing her clinical fellowship at MedTravelers in Waldorf, Maryland.

Melinda Corwin, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center

Melinda Corwin, PhD, CCC-SLP, is a professor and clinical supervisor at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences. She directs the Stroke and Aphasia Recovery (STAR) Program and is an affiliate of the National Aphasia Association and board member of Aphasia Access. She has published in the areas of aphasia and dementia. Most recent publication: Elko, S., Velez, J. A., Corwin, M., and Keene, J. R. (2020). Rethinking patient–provider care through visual communication. Visual Communication. https://doi.org/10.1177/1470357220915605. 

Tobias Kroll, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center

Tobias A. Kroll, PhD, CCC-SLP, is an associate professor at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. His research interests center on the statistical properties of eye movements in reading and on micro-properties of disordered and typical communication. Most recent publication: Kroll, T. A., Trindade, A. A., Asikis, A., Salas, M., Lau, M., Saenz, C., Head, M., Prematilake, C., and Perry, C. (2018). The DUT task: A novel experimental paradigm to investigate the variability of eye movements in whole-text reading for meaning. Journal of Research Design and Statistics in Linguistics and Communication Science, 4(2), 124–143.

Melissa Whitaker, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center

Melissa Whitaker, MS, CCC-SLP, is a clinical instructor in the Department of Speech-Language and Hearing Sciences. She has clinical experience with both pediatric and adult populations across a variety of disorder types. Special interests include counseling within the field of speech-language pathology.


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How to Cite

Alcala, C. ., Corwin, M. ., Kroll, T. ., & Whitaker, M. . (2021). Engagement in small group interactions involving persons with primary progressive aphasia. Journal of Interactional Research in Communication Disorders, 11(2), 127–150. https://doi.org/10.1558/jircd.21384




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