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Curran, A,Flynn, C,Antonijevic-Elliott, S,Lyons, R
International Journal Of Language & Communication Disorders
Non-attendance and utilization of a speech and language therapy service: a retrospective pilot study of school-aged referrals
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Optional Fields
failure to attend service utilization community speech and language therapy service inappropriate referrals APPOINTMENTS IMPAIRMENT CHILDREN
BackgroundNon-attendance and inappropriate referrals affect the effective and efficient running of healthcare services. Non-engagement with speech and language therapy (SLT) services may lead to negative long-term consequences for children in need of SLT intervention. Currently there is a dearth of research on non-attendance and non-engagement with SLT services.AimsTo identify factors associated with (1) non-attendance and (2) parents' non-engagement with SLT services.Methods & ProceduresDemographic data were collected from 140 case files of children (aged 5;0-17;11 years) discharged from a public community SLT service (November 2011-October 2013) with no intervention provided. Logistic regression analyses explored relationships between demographic data and (1) non-attendance and (2) non-engagement with the SLT service.Outcomes & ResultsThere was an increased probability of non-attendance during winter (i.e. September-February inclusive; OR = 3.14; p = 0.028) relative to summer, and with each month a child waited for SLT assessment (OR = 1.19; p = 0.066). There was decreased probability of non-attendance with children referred for speech (OR = 0.08; p = 0.011) or language difficulties (OR = 0.15; p = 0.050) relative to dysfluency. The probability of non-engagement with the SLT service increased in each of the following conditions: with each month a child waited for assessment (OR = 1.27; p = 0.004); in urban (OR = 2.40; p = 0.066) relative to rural locations; during winter (OR = 2.65; p = 0.021) relative to summer; and with referrals made by occupational therapists, physiotherapists, psychologists and social workers (OR = 18.65; p = 0.016) relative to doctor referrals.Conclusions & ImplicationsNon-attendance is influenced by wait times, season and the reason for referral. Location (urban versus rural), referral source, wait times and season are factors related to non-engagement with SLT services. Targeted policies to improve efficiency and effectiveness of SLT services could be designed around these study findings.
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