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Child Care Health Dev. 2014 Mar;40(2):215-22. doi: 10.1111/cch.12032. Epub 2013 Mar 22.

Who gets help for pre-school communication problems? Data from a prospective community study.

Author information

1
Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Parkville, Vic., Australia; Department of Paediatrics, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Vic., Australia.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Pre-school communication problems are common, with implications for school readiness and educational achievement. Help is available from a variety of community healthcare providers. This study examined the extent to which help is received, and the predictors of service receipt.

DESIGN AND SETTING:

Prospective community study, in Melbourne, Victoria.

PARTICIPANTS AND METHOD:

At age 4 years, we assessed the speech, receptive and expressive language and fluency of 1607 children and gave feedback to their parents. At age 5 years, 983 families provided data on service use for communication problems between and 4 and 5 years. We compared service use between participants with and without impairment, and used logistic regression to estimate the strength of association between potential predictors (gender, socio-economic status, maternal education, English-speaking background status, family history of speech and language problems and parent concern) and service use (binary outcome).

RESULTS:

Data were available for both communication status and service use for 753 children. Only 44.9% of the 196 children with communication impairment received help from a professional. Furthermore, 7% of the 557 that did not meet criteria for communication impairment nevertheless received help from a professional. Parent concern was the strongest predictor of service use (adjusted odds ratio = 9.0; 95% CI: 5.6-14.8).

CONCLUSIONS:

Both over- and under-servicing for communication problems were evident. This study shows that accessing help for communication problems requires more than simply informing parents about the problem and having services available; there is a need for systematic support to get the right children to services.

KEYWORDS:

access to health care; child development; health services research; speech and language delay; speech and language therapy

PMID:
23521127
DOI:
10.1111/cch.12032
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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