Thin Versus Thick Description: Analyzing Representations of People and Their Life Worlds in the Literature of Communication Sciences and Disorders Purpose Evidence-based practice relies on clinicians to translate research evidence for individual clients. This study, the initial phase of a broader research project, examines the textual resources of such translations by analyzing how people with acquired cognitive-communication disorders (ACCD) and their life worlds have been represented in Communication Sciences and ... Supplement Article
Supplement Article  |   November 01, 2015
Thin Versus Thick Description: Analyzing Representations of People and Their Life Worlds in the Literature of Communication Sciences and Disorders
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Julie A. Hengst
    University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
  • Suma Devanga
    University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
  • Hillary Mosier
    University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. ×
  • Correspondence to Julie A. Hengst: hengst@illinois.edu
  • Editor: Anastasia Raymer
    Editor: Anastasia Raymer×
  • Associate Editor: Emma Power
    Associate Editor: Emma Power×
Article Information
Hearing Disorders / Normal Language Processing / Language Disorders / Aphasia / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Supplement: Select Papers From the 44th Clinical Aphasiology Conference
Supplement Article   |   November 01, 2015
Thin Versus Thick Description: Analyzing Representations of People and Their Life Worlds in the Literature of Communication Sciences and Disorders
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, November 2015, Vol. 24, S838-S853. doi:10.1044/2015_AJSLP-14-0163
History: Received September 16, 2014 , Revised February 6, 2015 , Accepted April 10, 2015
 
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, November 2015, Vol. 24, S838-S853. doi:10.1044/2015_AJSLP-14-0163
History: Received September 16, 2014; Revised February 6, 2015; Accepted April 10, 2015

Purpose Evidence-based practice relies on clinicians to translate research evidence for individual clients. This study, the initial phase of a broader research project, examines the textual resources of such translations by analyzing how people with acquired cognitive-communication disorders (ACCD) and their life worlds have been represented in Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) research articles.

Method Using textual analysis, we completed a categorical analysis of 6,059 articles published between 1936 and 2012, coding for genre, population, and any evidence of thick representations of people and their life worlds, and a discourse analysis of representations used in 56 ACCD research articles, identifying thin and thick representations in 4 domains (derived from the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health) and across article sections.

Results The categorical analysis identified a higher percentage of ACCD articles with some evidence of thick representation (30%) compared with all CSD articles (12%) sampled. However, discourse analysis of ACCD research articles found that thick representations were quite limited; 34/56 articles had thin representational profiles, 19/56 had mixed profiles, and 3/56 had thick profiles.

Conclusions These findings document the dominance of thin representations in the CSD literature, which we suggest makes translational work more difficult. How clinicians translate such evidence will be addressed in the next research phase, an interview study of speech-language pathologists.

Acknowledgments
This project was supported in part by University of Illinois Campus Research Board Grant 13201 (awarded to Julie A. Hengst). We are indebted to the student research assistants who helped complete the detailed data analysis for this project: Olivia Dolleton, Jennifer Gerry, Alex Karigan, Kathy Kastanes, Tara Marcoski, Amanda Rohde, Martha Sherrill, Carley Serena, and Allison Virgilio. Thanks also to Paul Prior for his advice on textual analysis and for providing responses to earlier versions of this article.
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