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Race and right hemisphere damage (Fannin et al., 2023)

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posted on 2023-01-10, 17:00 authored by Danai Kasambira Fannin, Jada Elleby, Maria Tackett, Jamila Minga

Purpose: Atypical pragmatic language can impede quality health care access. Right hemisphere brain damage (RHD) results in changes in pragmatic language use; however, little is known about whether there are racial/ethnic influences. Recent research indicated differences in question-asking when RHD survivors were compared with healthy controls, prompting the current examination of question production in women by race/ethnicity and the presence of RHD.

Method: Participants were eight Black and eight White women who sustained a single right hemisphere stroke at least 6 months prior to data collection (2016–2020), and eight Black and eight White control participants from the Right Hemisphere Damage Bank (https://rhd.talkbank.org). Videos of informal, first-encounter conversational discourse tasks were transcribed and coded. Analyses were conducted for frequency of questions and question type.

Results: Race/ethnicity had a statistically significant effect on the total number of questions and number of content and polar questions. The mean total of questions, number of content questions, and mean number of polar questions for Black participants was significantly less than White participants. There was less variability in question type for Black participants than White participants, and a tendency for Black participants to ask fewer questions regardless of RHD or control status.

Conclusions: Acquisition of health information and ensuing health care might be less fruitful for Black women communicating with someone who may not know to conduct comprehension checks and be proactive in provision of information. To be culturally responsive to Black patients with communication disorders, providers might apply this awareness of reduced question-asking to their strategies to improve patient–provider communication.

Supplemental Material S1. Sample transcripts from survivors of right hemisphere brain damage (RHD).

Fannin, D. K., Elleby, J., Tackett, M., & Minga, J. (2023). Intersectionality of race and question-asking in women after right hemisphere brain damage. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1044/2022_JSLHR-22-00327


This work is supported in part by Grants NIH/NIDCD 3R01-DC008524-11S1 and NIH 2 K12-HD043446-16 both awarded to Jamila Minga, NIH-NIMHD-RCMI 5U54MD012392-03 awarded to Deepak Kumar, and the Duke Whitehead Scholar Foundation.