Waiting for speech-language pathology services: A randomised controlled trial comparing therapy, advice and device

Sharynne McLeod, Emily Davis, Katrina Rohr, Nicole McGill, Katherine Miller, Angela Roberts, Sally Thornton, Nina Ahio, Nicola Ivory

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: To compare children’s speech, language and early literacy outcomes, and caregivers' empowerment and satisfaction following provision of 12 sessions of direct intervention (therapy), or face-to-face advice or a purpose-built website (device) while waiting for therapy.
Method: A four-stage randomised controlled trial was undertaken involving three- to six-year-old children referred to speech-language pathology waiting lists at two Australian community health centres over eight months (n = 222). Stage 1 (screening): 149 were eligible to participate. Stage 2 (pre-assessment): 117 were assessed. Stage 3 (intervention): 110 were randomised to advice (33), device (39) or therapy (38). Stage 4 (post-assessment): 101 were re-assessed by a speech-language pathologist blinded to the intervention condition.
Result: After controlling for baseline levels, children’s speech (percentage of consonants correct) was significantly higher in the therapy group compared to the advice and device conditions. Caregivers' satisfaction was also significantly higher in the therapy condition compared to the device condition. There were no significant differences between the three conditions for children’s intelligibility, language and early literacy or caregivers' empowerment.
Conclusion: Therapy resulted in significantly higher speech outcomes than the advice and device conditions and was associated with significantly greater caregiver satisfaction. Provision of a website containing evidence-based material or a single session of advice may be a viable alternative while children wait for therapy targeting intelligibility, language and early literacy, and to empower caregivers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)372-386
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Speech-Language Pathology
Issue number3
Early online date04 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Grant Number

  • CSU102051


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