Giving information: The importance of context on communicative opportunity for people with traumatic brain injury

Leanne Togher*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    32 Citations (Scopus)


    This study is one of a series investigating everyday communication skills of people with traumatic brain injury (TBI) using communication partners other than speech pathologists or research assistants. The first of these studies examined telephone conversations where subjects were asked to request specific information during telephone interactions with a range of communication partners. Results indicated that people with TBI were disadvantaged in some of their interactions on the telephone with community agencies and family members during information-seeking interactions, when compared with matched controls. TBI subjects were given less information than matched controls and were also asked for less information. For example, therapists never asked TBI subjects questions to which they didn't already know the answer. This was in contrast to the control interactions, where subjects were asked for novel information. In the current study seven subjects with TBI were compared with seven matched control subjects across two conditions: a community education information-giving session with two schoolboys, and an information-requesting interaction with the researcher. Exchange structure analysis showed that when placed in an information-giving role, TBI subjects gave similar amounts of information as control subjects. TBI subjects used joke telling as an information-giving device, serving a number of communicative functions, which are discussed. There was no significant difference in the amount of information requested or given by TBI and control subjects in the researcher condition; however there were significant qualitative differences in the nature of the requesting. It has been previously emphasized that people with TBI should be evaluated with a number of interlocutors as part of a thorough communication needs assessment (Hartley 1995). Merely varying the interlocutor is not sufficient, however, as the goal of the interaction and the primary speaking roles of participants are also important, and will determine the language choices available to both speakers. Exchange structure analysis is a useful way to delineate these language choices, as it is interpreted in light of the genre of the interaction and the tenor and communicative purpose of the participants.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)365-390
    Number of pages26
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2000


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