Speech and language disorder survey among adults in Christchurch.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
A survey to establish the incidence of speech/language disorders and the 'need' for appropriate speech/language therapy services among nine adult sub-populations in metropolitan Christchurch was undertaken between June 1977 to November 1977. In a series of four studies, a total of 8,371 adults were screened for identifiable speech/language disorders at the following locations: Study 1 - patients in three public hospitals; Study 2 - patients seen by a sample of general practitioners and an ENT specialist; Study 3 - clients in contact with four different social agencies, residents in a geriatric home, and male prisoners; Study 4 - participants of a suburban community centre, employees of a clothing factory, and respondents to a newspaper advertisement. A fifth study (Study 5) examined the characteristics and needs of past and present clients of a Stutterers' Clinic. Incidence rates varied from 0.4 per cent to over 30 per cent according to the sub-population examined. The overall incidence was 2.6 per cent. In general, the older the sUb-population the higher the incidence of disorders, and stutterers were evident in most of the subpopulations screened. It was concluded that many speech impaired adults in the Christchurch metopolitan area receive no treatment for their speech problems. It seems clear that while there are insufficient speech/language therapists to treat all the speech impaired adults who would like to receive therapy, the solution to the problem is more complex than simply increasing the number of speech/language therapists. The current situation appears to be not merely a lack of service but a general paucity of information about the types of disorders and the services available. The dissemination of such knowledge to professionals, especially doctors, as well as the general public and the speech impaired adults themselves seems to be just as important as an increase in staffing. Moreover, the location of future speech/language therapy services should be carefully considered with special regard for the 'needs' of the population it will serve.