A qualitative exploration of speech-language pathologists' intervention and intensity provision for children with phonological impairment

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Purpose: The aim of this study was to explore the reasons behind speech-language pathologists’ (SLPs’) current clinical practices (intervention and intensity provision) for children (0–18 years) with phonological impairment. Method: Three focus groups each with five SLPs and six 1:1 interviews with SLP managers from one region of the UK (n = 21) were carried out. A thematic analysis was undertaken. Result: SLPs often used an eclectic mix of familiar approaches with easily-accessible therapy materials. SLPs only reported deviating from their core approach if the child did not progress in therapy. Mixed responses were gathered on the perceived feasibility of transferring evidence-based intervention intensities into clinical practice. The importance of parents to increase intensity provision at home was noted. Barriers to SLPs’ evidence-based decision-making included: time; confidence levels; service-related restrictions and; difficulty replicating research in practice. Having peer support and access to decision-making pathways and manualised intervention protocols were considered ways to overcome these barriers. Conclusion: There is a research-practice gap in which SLPs’ current practices are driven by organisational factors, their own preferences and child-specific factors. To narrow this gap, SLPs suggested the development of time-saving, evidence-based tools.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-224
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Speech-Language Pathology
Issue number2
Early online date7 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 4 Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work has been completed through a PhD studentship awarded to Natalie Hegarty by the Department for Employment and Learning (DEL). Thanks to all SLPs and HSCTs in Northern Ireland for their participation in this work. Thanks to Professor Sharynne McLeod for her contributions to this paper.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Speech Pathology Association of Australia Limited.


  • evidence-based practice
  • phonological impairment
  • qualitative
  • Speech and Hearing
  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Research and Theory
  • Language and Linguistics
  • LPN and LVN
  • Humans
  • Pathologists
  • Speech Sound Disorder
  • Speech
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Articulation Disorders
  • Speech-Language Pathology


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