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Accessing speech and language services (Davidson et al., 2022)

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posted on 2022-05-25, 18:27 authored by Meghan M. Davidson, Crystle N. Alonzo, Michelle L. Stransky

Objectives: The purposes of this study were to (a) examine children’s access to services for their speech and language disorders during their lifetimes; (b) identify any child, disorder, and family characteristics associated with access to services; and (c) describe the speech and language service providers among children who received care.

Study design: Data from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey were used for this retrospective cohort study. Our sample included 491 children (ages 3;0–17;11 [years;months]) with speech disorders and 333 children with language disorders. We measured the receipt of services for speech or language difficulties (main outcome) and the type of professional providing services (secondary outcome). We examined associations between services and child, disorder, and family characteristics.

Results: Approximately 75% of children with speech and language disorders had ever received services for their difficulties. Privately insured children and children with co-occurring conditions were more likely to receive services than their peers who were uninsured (speech: 6.1 [1.7,21.3]; language: 6.6 [1.3,32.9]) and had no co-occurring conditions (speech: 2.1 [1.2,3.9]; language: 2.9 [1.5,5.5]). Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) were the most commonly reported provider of services (speech: 68%, language: 60%) followed by early interventionists.

Conclusions: Most children with speech and language disorders received services. However, disparities existed by race/ethnicity, health insurance type, co-occurring diagnoses, and disorder duration (speech only). Most children who received services were being provided with care by the experts of speech and language: SLPs. Updated population-based data and implementation studies are needed to document speech and language screening, referral, and access to services.

Supplemental Material S1. Age of datasets from previously published studies on treatment access in speech and language disorders.

Davidson, M. M., Alonzo, C. N., & Stransky, M. L. (2022). Access to speech and language services and service providers for children with speech and language disorders. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology. Advance online publication.


This project was funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (T32HS022242 [to M.L.S.]).