Objective: Analysis of the relationship between treatment and improvement on language scores in children with language problems.
Design: Observational longitudinal study.
Materials and methods: 123 children between 2 and 5 years of age, diagnosed as having a language problem were followed for 1 year. By means of monthly questionnaires, the form of intervention received was recorded. Language abilities were measured at baseline and after 1 year. Mixed model analysis was used to determine the relationship between improvement and language scores.
Results: During the year 119 parents returned the monthly questionnaires and four treatment groups were subsequently able to be categorized: language treatment (n=21, 18%), surgical hearing improvement (n=16, 13%), language treatment and surgical hearing improvement (n=42, 35%) and a three-combination group (language treatment, surgical hearing improvement and developmental guidance, n=40, 34%). For the four treatment groups there were no significant differences at baseline for the Language Comprehension Quotient (LCQ) (p=0.07) and Sentence Development Quotient (SDQ) (p=0.09). In all treatment groups the mean Sentence Development Quotient improved significantly (p=0.001). The mean Language Comprehension Quotient did not improve in the surgical hearing improvement group (p=0.42), but improved significantly in the language treatment group, in the language treatment and surgical hearing improvement group and in the three-combination group (p=0.002, 0.040, 0.001). From all included children 38 children (32%) moved from an inadequate to an adequate language score.
Conclusion: All distinguished forms of treatment were effective. However, only for a proportion of the children this meant a clinical relevant improvement. For the improvement of language comprehension targeted language therapy seems essential, as children without this (children receiving surgical hearing impairment) did not improve their LCQ.