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Collaboration Between Neuropsychologists and Speech-Language Pathologists in Rehabilitation Settings

Wertheimer, Jeffrey C. PhD; Roebuck-Spencer, Tresa M. PhD; Constantinidou, Fofi PhD; Turkstra, Lyn PhD; Pavol, Marykay PhD; Paul, Diane PhD

The Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation: September-October 2008 - Volume 23 - Issue 5 - p 273–285
doi: 10.1097/01.HTR.0000336840.76209.a1

Objective The purpose of this study was to understand the barriers and facilitators of communication and collaboration between speech-language pathologists (SLPs) and neuropsychologists (NPs) in rehabilitation settings.

Method Focus groups were held at 3 rehabilitation hospitals. Participants were a convenience sample and were considered representatives of acquired brain injury rehabilitation teams that include SLPs and NPs. There were a total of 28 SLPs and 10 NPs in the sample. The study used a semistructured interview guide for the focus group discussions, using questions centered on major areas known to be related to interdisciplinary collaboration. Written notes and audio recordings were analyzed for recurring and strongly stated themes.

Results Consistent themes emerged across focus groups, which included (1) structure of collaboration, (2) perceived roles of NPs and SLPs in assessment and intervention, (3) similarities and differences in training and philosophic perspectives, (4) barriers to successful collaboration, and (5) facilitators of collaboration.

Conclusion The SLPs and NPs valued the contributions of both professions in the management of patients with acquired brain injuries. Effective collaboration appeared to be influenced by several factors and is discussed. It was evident that effective communication was a key and powerful element in successful collaboration.

From the Department of Behavioral Medicine, Brooks Rehabilitation Center, Jacksonville, Fla (Dr Wertheimer); Department of Psychology, National Rehabilitation Hospital, Washington, DC (Dr Roebuck-Spencer); Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, and Department of Psychology, University of Cyprus, Nicosia (Dr Constantinidou); Department of Communicative Disorders, University of Wisconsin–Madison (Dr Turkstra); Cerebral Localization Laboratory, Neurological Institute, Columbia University Medical Center, New York (Dr Pavol); and Clinical Issues in Speech-Language Pathology, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Rockville, Md (Dr Paul).

Corresponding author: Jeffrey C. Wertheimer, PhD, Department of Behavioral Medicine, Brooks Rehabilitation Center, 3901 University Blvd S, Jacksonville, FL 32216 (e-mail:

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.