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The Levels of Speech Usage rating scale: comparison of client self-ratings with speech pathologist ratings


Gray C, Baylor C, Eadie T, Kendall D, Yorkston K



Publication Info:

International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, 47(3):333-344


BACKGROUND: The term 'speech usage' refers to what people want or need to do with their speech to fulfil the communication demands in their life roles. Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) need to know about clients' speech usage to plan appropriate interventions to meet their life participation goals. The Levels of Speech Usage is a categorical scale intended for client self-report of speech usage, but SLPs may want the option to use it as a proxy-report tool. The relationship between self-report and clinician ratings should be examined before the instrument is used in a proxy format.
AIMS: The primary purpose of this study was to compare client self-ratings with SLP ratings on the Levels of Speech Usage scale. The secondary purpose was to determine if the SLP ratings differed depending on whether or not the SLPs knew about the clients' medical condition.
METHODS & PROCEDURES: Self-ratings of adults with communication disorders on the Levels of Speech Usage scale were available from prior research. Vignettes about these individuals were created from existing data. Two sets of vignettes were created. One set contained information about demographic information, living situation, occupational status and hobbies or social activities. The second set was identical to the first with the addition of information about the clients' medical conditions and communication disorders. Various communication disorders were represented including dysarthria, voice disorders, laryngectomy, and mild cognitive and language disorders. Sixty SLPs were randomly divided into two groups with each group rating one set of vignettes. The task was completed online. While this does not replicate typical in-person clinical interactions, it was a feasible method for this study. For data analysis, the client self-ratings were considered fixed points and the percentage of SLP ratings in agreement with the self-ratings was calculated.
OUTCOMES & RESULTS: The percentage of SLP ratings in exact agreement with client self-ratings was 44.9%. Agreement was lowest for the less-demanding speech usage categories and highest for the most demanding usage category. There was no significant difference between the two groups of SLPs based on knowledge of medical condition.
CONCLUSIONS & IMPLICATIONS: SLPs often need to document the speech usage levels of clients. This study suggests the potential for SLPs to misjudge how clients see their own speech demands. Further research is needed to determine if similar results would be found in actual clinical interactions. Until then, SLPs should seek the input of their clients when using this instrument.

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