Communicating to Non-Speaking Critically Ill Patients: Augmentative and Alternative Communication Technique as an Essential Strategy

Asaad Nasser Salim Al-Yahyai, Judie Arulappan*, Gerald Amandu Matua, Sultan Marhoon Al-Ghafri, Sami Hamood Al-Sarakhi, Khalid Khalfan Said Al-Rahbi, Sathish Kumar Jayapal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Communication with hospitalized patients is crucial to improve the quality and safety of health care. Methods: The study assessed the communication methods used by nurses while communicating to non-speaking critically ill patients. The participants included staff nurses working in ICU, CICU, HD units of neuro- surgical, orthopedic, medical and oncology wards. Purposive sampling technique was used to recruit a total number of 194 nurses. The communication methods used were assessed by a questionnaire comprised of a list of 21 strategies used to communicate with non-speaking patients. Results: The most commonly used strategies were reading the patient’s mouthing words, encouraging the patient by telling them that they are doing well and nurses helping them to get better, assessing the patients for their communication ability, “thumps up” to indicate “yes”, “shake head” indicating “no”, use OK, or point to body parts, speaking slowly and waiting for the patient’s response, spending time to listen patiently to what the patient say and touching the non-speaking critically ill patient when the nurse speaks with the patient. Conclusion: The study reported that the nurses used variety of communication strategies while communicating to non- speaking critically ill patients. However very few nurses used Augmentative and alternative communication strategies to communicate to non-speaking critically ill patients. The study recommends the importance of establishing Augmentative and Alternative Communication strategies in the hospitals.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSAGE Open Nursing
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • communication strategies
  • non-speaking critically ill patients
  • nurses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)


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