Norwegian speech-language pathologists treatment practices for preschool children who stutter: An explorative study
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionJournal of Fluency Disorders. 2023, 77 . 10.1016/j.jfludis.2023.105999
Purpose: This study investigated the treatment practices of speech-language pathologists (SLPs) with preschool children who stutter to explore variations in service delivery and, consequently to better inform and support evidence-based practice. Method: 121 Norwegian SLPs completed an online survey about stuttering treatment for preschool children aged up to six years. They reported on treatment training, choices, setting, dosage, and outcomes. Data was analysed descriptively. Correlation analyses between years of clinical experience and clinician perceived outcomes were conducted. Result: Sixty-eight percent of SLPs were trained in one or more stuttering treatment programs. The majority of SLPs (83 %) provided treatment in person in preschool centers; 59 % reported providing treatment once a week. Thirty-four percent of SLPs reported that they often or always delivered the whole treatment program. Treatment practice addressed various elements, including advising parents about language and communication strategies, supporting the child’s self-image, and perceived outcomes. The SLPs reported their clinician perceived outcomes as ‘always’ or ‘often’ reduction of audible stuttering (70 %), reduced cognitive and emotional reactions (55 %), and improved communication skills (58 %). Factors influencing treatment choices were identified at the systemic level (e.g., work place regulations) and individual level (e.g., SLPs competency, child’s best). Conclusion: Stuttering treatment services in Norway differ from those reported in existing literature as treatment is given in preschool settings, only 34 % of SLPs deliver programs as intended whilst the majority use treatment elements only, and still experience positive changes. Provision is variable, and seems influenced by SLP training and competence.