Use of a Speech-Generating Device for Hospitalized Postoperative Patients With Head and Neck Cancer Experiencing Speechlessness

Carmen Rodriguez

Meredeth Rowe

head and neck cancer, head and neck neoplasms, communication
ONF 2010, 37(2), 199-205. DOI: 10.1188/10.ONF.199-205

Purpose/Objectives: To test the feasibility of using a programmable speech-generating device (PSGD) in hospitalized adults with head and neck cancer experiencing speechlessness.

Design: Time-series design.

Setting: Tertiary care institution, inpatient setting.

Sample: 9 female and 12 male postoperative patients (X age = 62 years) experiencing speechlessness as a result of a surgical intervention to treat head and neck cancer.

Methods: Patients participated in a communication intervention that incorporated use of a PSGD during their hospital stay. Data about PSGD use and functionality- and technology-related issues were collected. Satisfaction and usability of the PSGD were rated with the Satisfaction and Usability Instrument.

Main Research Variables: Use of, satisfaction with, and usability of the PSGD.

Findings: Participants demonstrated significant improvement in ability to use the PSGD over a four-day period for all communication functions assessed. Results indicated that participants were "quite satisfied" with using the device and considered the technology to be "quite important" during the postoperative period. PSGD messages generated by participants via the hospital call system were understood by clerks. However, participants admitted to intensive care units experienced issues associated with accessibility of the device.

Conclusions: Participants demonstrated proficient and independent use of the PSGD to communicate programmed messages; however, other strategies were necessary to meet their communication needs as the postoperative period progressed. Additional research on technologic communication options and strategies to tailor technology to meet the needs of speechless patients is warranted.

Implications for Nursing: PSGDs may offer a more reliable option to facilitate communication between patients and nurses during the postoperative period. Technology should be tailored to meet speechless patients' unique needs as they progress through the rehabilitation process.

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