Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2017

Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)

Degree In

Speech Pathology and Audiology

First Advisor

Jean K. Gordon


Background: A social network is made up of the people with whom individuals make communicative contact throughout their lives. The socioemotional selectivity theory predicts that older adults selectively prune their social networks to make them more intimate and satisfying (Carstensen, 1992). Aphasia, a disorder that affects mostly older adults, has been found to reduce social network size. Prior research does not adequately address satisfaction with that change.

Aims: The current qualitative study investigates the hypothesis that aphasia reduces social participation and satisfaction with social participation.

Methods: Four people with aphasia and five people without aphasia were interviewed about their social network size, frequency of communication, satisfaction of communication, frequency of activity participation, and satisfaction of activity participation. We investigated the impact of factors hypothesized to affect these indices of social participation: aphasia severity, hearing loss, mobility status, and communication modalities.

Results: The aphasia group reported smaller social networks, and less frequent social communication and individual and social activity participation. Social isolation was also reported by the aphasia group. Satisfaction of communication was roughly the same between groups. The aphasia group was more dissatisfied with activity participation than the control group.

Conclusions: Individuals with aphasia had smaller social networks and less frequent activity participation than controls. This contributed to a perception of social isolation. Socioemotional selectivity theory may apply to the social communication changes in people with aphasia because results indicated equal dissatisfaction when compared to the control group. However, alternative hypotheses cannot be discounted. The aphasia group’s increased dissatisfaction with activity participation indicates an undesired change.


aphasia, social networks


viii, 69 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 67-69).


Copyright © 2017 Bethany Anne Jones