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Telehealth practice in aphasia: a survey of UK Speech and Language Therapists, with a focus on assessment

Hilari, K. ORCID: 0000-0003-2091-4849, Roper, A. ORCID: 0000-0001-6950-6294, Northcott, S. ORCID: 0000-0001-8229-5452 & Behn, N. ORCID: 0000-0001-9356-9957 (2023). Telehealth practice in aphasia: a survey of UK Speech and Language Therapists, with a focus on assessment. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, doi: 10.1111/1460-6984.12996


Background and Objectives: Evidence suggests telehealth in speech and language therapy can enhance access to care, cost-effectiveness and satisfaction. However, little is known about use of telehealth in the UK. Moreover, many assessments/outcome measures for aphasia have been tested for face-to-face administration only, posing challenges to reliable use within the telehealth context. We explored the experiences and views of speech and language therapists (SLTs) working with people with aphasia on using telehealth to conduct assessments/ outcome measures, perceived barriers and facilitators in telehealth, and their priorities for research in telehealth aphasia assessment.

Method: We explored views of UK SLTs through an online cross-sectional survey (2021) delivered through the Qualtrics platform. The survey covered three main areas: (i) participant demographics; (ii) experience of using telehealth and doing telehealth assessments with people with aphasia post-stroke during COVID-19 pandemic; and (iii) plans for telehealth post-pandemic. Response formats included yes/no, multiple choice, five-point Likert scales, and open-ended text responses. The survey was expected to take no more than 10 minutes to complete. Survey data were analysed through descriptive statistics and content analysis of open-ended questions.

Results: 124 SLTs responded to the survey. The majority (>80%) used telehealth during the Covid-19 pandemic and >90% planned to continue to use telehealth in the future. The most used platforms were Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Attend Anywhere. Access to internet and telehealth platforms, and practical problems (e.g., difficulties sharing resources online, limited functionality of telehealth platforms for assessment) were common barriers. Therapists highlighted that training, resources and materials that assist the administration of assessments were important. Most participants responded that there was a need for existing measures to be tested for administration via telehealth (n=68, 70.8%). Participants overall felt there was a need for online interactive assessments, more online resources that have been trialled for use via telehealth, accessible formats for resources for people with aphasia and clear instructions for how people with aphasia can access resources.

Conclusions: This study provides new insights into the current use of telehealth assessment with people with aphasia in the UK and directions for future research. Barriers and facilitators identified can support implementation of telehealth assessment in SLT services.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. © 2023 The Authors.International Journal of Language & Communication Disorderspublished by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists.
Publisher Keywords: aphasia, assessment, outcome, speech and language therapy
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Language & Communication Science
SWORD Depositor:
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