Towards an asset-based approach to promoting and sustaining well-being for people with aphasia and their families: an international exploratory study

Ciara Shiggins, Varda Soskolne, Dafna Olenik, Gill Pearl, Line Haaland-Johansen, Jytte Isaksen, Caroline Jagoe, Ruth McMenamin, Simon Horton

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15 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: There is growing interest in interventions that promote positive outcomes and well-being for people with aphasia (PWA) and their families, but provision is inconsistent. An asset-based approach, based on the theory of salutogenesis, focuses on what makes you well rather than ill. This approach has been used successfully across a variety of research fields, including health and social care research and practice, and has the potential to provide coherent strategies to support people living successfully with aphasia. Aim: To explore the relevance and potential of an asset-based approach to promoting and sustaining well-being for PWA and their families, across contexts and cultures. Methods & procedures: Exploratory case studies were carried out in the United Kingdom (UK), Norway, Israel, Ireland, and Denmark in a variety of settings. Following an interpretative paradigm, we used qualitative methods including: interviews; appreciative inquiry; group discussions; and participatory action research. 95 PWA and 25 family members were asked to identify assets within themselves and their communities that promote, sustain and maintain well-being, by responding to: “What makes you feel good/well/healthy?” Data were analysed using thematic analysis. Outcomes & results: An asset-based approach proved to be a powerful means for PWA and family members to explore what helps them live well with aphasia. Key themes were identified: (1) personal journey; (2) helping others; (3) connecting to self; (4) connecting to others; (5) recreation; and (6) personal attributes. Self-identification of assets, within the person and their community, and connections to these, helped PWA and their family members to maintain well-being, overcome barriers and regain confidence. Using this approach, focusing on the person’s recognition, activation and mobilisation of assets, could enhance the person’s understanding and restore meaning around the stroke and onset of aphasia. Conclusion: This novel exploratory research demonstrates the relevance and potential across diverse cultural contexts of taking an asset-based approach to promoting and sustaining well-being for PWA and their families. Focusing on maintaining connections to these assets and developing meaning around the event, could prevent some of the negative sequela of stroke. The “patient–professional” relationship must transform into a collaborative partnership, with time and flexibility needed to introduce this approach. Further research should examine how service providers and PWA could develop and operationalise an asset-based approach in clinical and community settings and identify if there is an optimum timing for introducing this approach along the stroke pathway.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)70-101
Number of pages32
Issue number1
Early online date26 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2020


  • Aphasia
  • stroke
  • asset-based approach
  • well-being
  • salutogenesis

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