Recall of medication instructions by young and old adult women: is overaccommodative speech helpful?




Gould, Odette

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In this study, we tested the effectiveness of overaccommodative speech as a way to improve recall and comprehension of long and complex medication regimen instructions. Overaccommodative speech was defined as speech containing exaggerated prosody, repetitions, tag questions and simplified vocabulary and syntax. Forty younger (M age = 21 years) and 82 older (M age = 71 years) adult women watched a videotape of an actor playing a physician presenting medication instructions in either overaccommodative or non-overaccommodative speaking styles. Participants performed a series of comprehension and recall tasks and gave subjective ratings of these stimuli. We hypothesized that older individuals with lower scores on working memory would differentially benefit from the overaccommodative speech. However, the groups that consistently benefited the most from overaccommodative speech were older adults with higher performance levels on working memory, with younger adults also showing improved comprehension and recall in certain conditions. These data are interpreted as indicating that both the cognitive abilities of the individuals and the difficulty of the task determined whether certain adaptive strategies based on overaccommodative speech characteristics will be adopted. A second goal of this study was an investigation of the relationship between cognitive ability as measured by working memory performance and subjective reactions to overaccommodative speech. Surprisingly, all three groups of participants had similar general reactions to the two types of stimuli: They preferred the speech attributes in the overaccommodative speech, but preferred the person attributes of the non-overaccommodative speaker. These results highlight the need for identifying specifically which features of overaccommodative speech are effective at improving comprehension and recall, and which are perceived as offensive by elderly recipients before recommendations to use a specific speaking style can be made to health-care providers who need to communicate important and complex information to older adults.



Verbal behavior, Speech, Psychological aspects