Thin versus thick description: Analyzing representations of people and their life worlds in the literature of communication sciences and disorders

Julie A. Hengst, Suma Devanga, Hillary Mosier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S838-S853
JournalAmerican journal of speech-language pathology
Volume24
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing

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