Research Design and the 6 Work Packages

Research Design and Methodology

The I-ASC project has taken a mixed methods approach to the study.  This means using both qualitative and quantitative methodologies.

This will be achieved through focus groups and interviews with children and adults who use AAC, as well as family members, clinicians and other professionals.  This work will look at what they think are the important decisions when assessing for an electronic communication aid.  The attributes or characteristics identified in this work will be used in the quantitative work and in designing the decision making tools that will make this process more equitable in the future.

Word Package 1: Systematic Review

There are three linked systematic reviews relating to current evidence of:

a) spepicture5ech, language and communication development with specific reference to children who use symbol communication aids

b) the language and communication characteristics of both the child and the communication aids considered in decision making

c) clinical decision making associated with aided communication in allied health professions and how this related to the literature on developing decision making tools.

The reviews will inform work packages 2, 3 and 4 plus the decision making tool.


Work Package 2: Focus groups with Clinicians reviewing current assessment processes

To understand the factors clinicians consider when making symbol communication aid recommendations. This will generate data for Work Package 4 and contributes one strand of the “expert clinical opinion” for the decision making tool.

Work Package 3: Interviews with children, young adults and adults who use AAC and the team around them regarding assessment experiences

To provide a detailed understanding of the perspectives of all key stakeholders by exploring specific decisions for specific people. Child and family involvement is crucial to unpick the long-term impact of decisions on people who use symbol communication aids and their support networks. This will contribute service users’ views and values to make up (with the results of WPs1, WP2 and WP4) the decision making tool.

Work Package 4: Quantitative Discrete Choice Modelling Study and surveys

The DCE, specifically using Choice Modelling, will be used to identify which attributes of the symbol communication aid and the child the clinicians take account of in recommending symbol communication aids and their relative importance in clinical decision making. These findings will inform WP5 in terms of determining hierarchies explicit to these attributes and how they may act as facilitators or barriers to the long term successful take up of symbol communication aid systems.

Work Package 5: Development of a heuristic (decision making resource) including focus groups to review findings

To influence practice this phase will combine all Work Packages resulting in the development of a prototype decision support resource and decision making heuristic with guidance to ensure the best match between a symbol communication system and a child.

Through a purposive recruitment process, health and educational professionals  involved in current symbol communication aid decision making, along with PPI representative groups will be invited to test the guidelines and heuristic.

Work Package 6: Dissemination

The final stage is to translate the findings into practice through targeted dissemination of the guidance/resources.  However, it is recognised dissemination is key throughout the project to engage participants in the study as these same people will be those to whom dissemination in aimed and they will initiate the process of change.

The PPI co-researchers take the lead on all dissemination through the life of the project.