Communication, Health, Aging, Relationship Types and Support (CHARTS)


Research Study Opportunity


PSU HSRRC # 143059    Principal Investigator: Jason Newsom, PhD


OHSU IRB#: 10500     Principal Investigator: Donna Graville, PhD, CCC-SLP


Andrew Palmer, MS, CCC-SLPMy name is Andrew Palmer and I am a Speech-Language Pathologist at OHSU. For the last several years, I have worked with individuals with various medical conditions that have caused changes in their communication. Over that time, I have become increasingly interested to learn more about how health and communication affect the lives of older adults. In particular I am interested to learn more about how these changes might affect their social relationships with friends, family members and acquaintances. This is a research project that I have been working on in order get my PhD at Portland State University Institute on Aging. I am working on this project in conjunction with other researchers at PSU, OHSU, and the Portland VA Medical Center’s National Center for Rehabilitative Auditory Research.

Study Progress:

Thank you everyone who has participated so far. We had a great response to our request for participants in the Fall of last year. We have now completed the first phase of the study and are analyzing the results from the online and mailed surveys that we have received. 

We plan to begin recruiting a small group of individuals for face-to-face interviews in the New Year.

Targeted OHSU patients who responded to mailer
Volunteers recruited online and by mail

More information and answers to some frequently asked questions are included below.


What is the purpose of the study?

The purpose of this study is to learn more about the health, communication status, and social relationships of a diverse group of older adults. Previous research studies have shown that social relationships are very important for our health. We want to learn, in turn, how health and communication problems might shape different aspects of the lives of older adults as they age. In particular we want to know if there are any differences with regard to the number of friends and family members older adults may have, how often they stay in touch, what types of support they provide, and whether these relationships are important for maintaining a sense of positive well-being.

Who is conducting the study?

This is an unfunded, investigator-initiated study. There are a number of researchers involved in this study at Portland State University, OHSU and the Portland VA Medical Center National Center for Rehabilitative Auditory Research (NCRAR), as follows:

Portland State University
Jason Newsom, PhD
(Principal Investigator at PSU)
Paula Carder, PhD
Diana White, PhD
Hyeyoung Woo, PhD

Oregon Health & Science University
Donna Graville, PhD, CCC-SLP
(Principal Investigator at OHSU)
Andrew Palmer, MS, CCC-SLP
(Primary Study Contact)

Portland VA Medical Center, NCRAR
Gabrielle Saunders, PhD

How many people will take part?

It is anticipated that between 100 - 300 individuals will take part in this study. Some of these individuals may have been seen at OHSU in the past. Others may have been seen at other clinics or rehabilitation centers in the Pacific Northwest or participate in online support groups for individuals with a range of different medical conditions.

Who is eligible to take part?

You may be eligible to take part if you are aged 65 or more, live independently in the community, are a native English speaker, and have no conditions known to significantly affect your ability to think or remember (e.g. Alzheimer's disease or dementia). 

What does the study involve?

There are two parts to this study:    

  • Phase 1: All study participants will complete a questionnaire. The questionnaire will likely take around 15-20 minutes to complete. It can be completed either on paper, online, face-to-face, or via telephone, depending on your preference. Our goal is that at least 100 people fill out the written survey.
  • Phase 2: We anticipate that we will learn a lot from these responses and that these answers may in fact generate some additional questions! As a result, we are planning to invite a smaller number of people (12) to participate in follow-up interviews. This part of the study is optional and will help to provide some more detailed information to help interpret the findings from the questionnaires. Individuals who are amenable to take part in this second phase will participate in a face-to-face interview of up to an hour at a time and location of their choosing with one of the study investigators.

Are there any risks in taking part in this study?

Although we have made every effort to protect your identity, there is a minimal risk of loss of confidentiality.

What are the benefits of taking part in this study?

You may or may not benefit from being in this study.  However, by participating, you may help us learn how to benefit other patients in the future.Are there any costs?It will not cost you anything to participate in this study. Unfortunately, this study is not funded by any type of grant and we do not have the ability to pay everyone for their participation. As a token of our appreciation, however, all individuals who complete the survey will be entered into a drawing and 10 people will be randomly selected to receive a $20 gift-card.  In addition, all 12 of the respondents who participate in the face-to-face interviews will receive a $20 gift-card. 

What are my rights as a research participant?

If you have any questions regarding your rights as a research subject, you may contact the OHSU Research Integrity Office at 503 494-7887.  You do not have to join this or any research study.  If you do join, and later change your mind, you may quit at any time.  If you refuse to join or withdraw early from the study, there will be no penalty or loss of any benefits to which you are otherwise entitled.

Who can I contact for more information about the study?

Please feel free to contact Andrew Palmer (the primary study contact) directly: 

Primary Study Contact:
Andrew Palmer, MS, CCC-SLP
Phone: 503 494-8885 or 503 494-5947   
Toll-free number: 1 888 222-6478, extension 4-8885