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Standardized Assessment via Telehealth in Speech Language Pathology: A Scoping Review
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Context: Telehealth has been used as an adjunct to traditional face-to-face Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) practice for quite some time. In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced a halt in much of SLP practice, followed by an uptake of telehealth. Practice via telehealth helped stop the spread of the virus, protected vulnerable populations, and enforced physical distancing. While this rapid change in practice posed many challenges, one of the main barriers that SLP practice faced was assessment of communication disorders.
Research Question: What is currently known about the application of standardized, norm referenced tests in SLP telehealth assessments?
Methodology: A scoping review using PRISMA identified 26 research papers between 1999 and 2019 that targeted SLP assessment of clients who were children (n=13), and adults (n=13).
1) For both children and adult clients the feasibility of conducting assessments via telehealth is increased when a facilitator accompanies the client.
2) Key considerations with regards to equipment and technology include the use of consumer grade equipment, control of the webcam by SLP, good lighting, use of virtual pointing, and high capacity internet bandwidth.
3) Children’s parents and adult clients reported high levels of satisfaction and comfort when participating in telehealth assessments.
4) SLP assessment via telehealth has been found to be more robust with children over the age of 6 years, and for receptive language and vocabulary assessment.
Discussion: Although telehealth in SLP practice has been present in our profession for more than 20 years, research has not been well developed. We only identified 26 studies between 1999 and 2019 for the present review. We anticipate a large increase in the number of peer- reviewed studies in the near future, as telehealth has become an essential part of SLP clinical practice.
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