"Many wasted months" - stakeholder views about waiting list for SLT/SLP Services

McGill, N., Crowe, K., & Mcleod, S. (2020). “Many wasted months”: Stakeholders’ perspectives about waiting for speech-language pathology services. International journal of speech-language pathology, 22(3), 313-326.


Aim of the paper:


With the increasing demand for speech-language therapy/pathology services, individuals with communication difficulties often find themselves placed on long waiting lists for the service. Several researchers have suggested that waiting for health care can negatively impact emotional wellbeing, causing stress and powerlessness. However, little is known about how waiting for speech-language therapy/pathology services in particular impacts individuals. This study aimed to investigate the experiences and perspectives of waiting for speech-language pathology services from the viewpoint of consumers, professionals, and organisations. This study was conducted in Australia.


Key term:

Speech-language therapy/pathology: the treatment for improving communication disorders which include disorders of speech, language, and swallowing (Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders, n.d.)


What was found:


· The duration of waiting for the service was consistently described as long.

· Negative consequences of waiting for consumers included burden on finances, time, health, and emotional wellbeing, such as stress and frustration.

· Negative consequences for the professionals providing the service included burnout, lower job satisfaction, and reduced ability to deliver effective services.

· Instead of waiting passively, many individuals waited actively by researching options for services and placing themselves on multiple waiting lists.

· Organisations lacked effective system-wide strategies to manage the long waiting lists.


What does this mean?


The existing speech-language therapy/pathology services in Australia often do not meet the needs of consumers, professionals, and organisations. Until the supply of services is able to meet the demand, the authors suggested that further research is needed to explore the effectiveness of waiting list management strategies. It is also necessary to explore and encourage effective active waiting by the consumers. Further advocacy by consumer groups and professional associations could help persuade governments to take action to reduce waiting times for speech-language therapy/pathology services.


Where can I read this paper?


This paper is not open access. If you wish to read the full paper, please email E-DLD@bath.ac.uk and request a copy of the paper.