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South African Journal of Communication Disorders

On-line version ISSN 2225-4765
Print version ISSN 0379-8046


GHABRIAL, Emad; BUTOW, Kurt W.  and  OLORUNJU, Steve A.S.. South African speech-language therapists' opinion of their training in cleft lip and palate and craniofacial deformities. S. Afr. J. Commun. Disord. [online]. 2020, vol.67, n.1, pp.1-6. ISSN 2225-4765.

BACKGROUND: Speech care of cleft lip and/or palate (CLP) and craniofacial deformities (CFD) is complex and lengthy and requires collaboration amongst different disciplines. Consequently, it is important to provide academic educational models that include didactics, online learning and clinical exposure in CLP and CFD treatment, and participation in established cleft palate multidisciplinary team management. OBJECTIVES: To obtain information regarding: (1) the perceived adequacy of CLP and CFD academic education of speech-language therapists (SLTs); (2) the professional services that SLTs offer to CLP and CFD patients; and (3) the educational needs of SLTs in this field METHOD: A 54-item online survey to collect quantitative data was conducted by telephone and email using a randomised sample of SLTs in different areas of South Africa. RESULTS: The questionnaire was completed by 123 SLTs, 70% of whom had more than 10 years of professional experience. Of the respondents, 81% acknowledged their limited clinical exposure during their academic education. Only 42% of the professionals offer treatment for CLP and CFD patients. Of the respondents, 96% agreed on the need to improve CLP and CFD academic education, and the majority recommended certified courses, continued-education workshops and online resources. CONCLUSION: The findings indicate that SLTs academic training is perceived to be significantly limited in the cleft palate and craniofacial fields. Thus, there is a strong need at the undergraduate level for clinical training and exposure to multidisciplinary management. At post-graduate level there is a need to establish an educational strategy to meet the needs of SLTs providing CLP and CFD care. Participants suggested that programmes for continuing professional education, degree courses and online resources be designed to provide practising clinicians with updated information and guidance in management of CLP and CFD patients.

Keywords : speech-language therapist; cleft palate; cleft lip; multidisciplinary; education; professional development; medical survey; craniofacial disorder.

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