Is speech and language therapy effective for children with primary speech and language impairment? Report of a randomized control trial

Int J Lang Commun Disord. 2011 Nov-Dec;46(6):628-640. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-6984.2011.00039.x. Epub 2011 Jul 1.


Background: A randomized controlled trial was conducted of a whole-service cohort of children referred to the Paediatric Speech and Language Therapy Service of Middlesbrough Primary Care Trust between January 1999 and April 2000. The 730 children involved, aged up to 16 years, were diagnosed with primary speech and/or language impairment in the absence of any learning, physical or sensory difficulty.

Aims: The study considered outcomes of treatment versus no treatment.

Methods & procedures: Treatment involved clinic-based interventions, provided according to local departmental criteria and care pathways, averaging 5.5 h (range 0-24 h) of contact during the 6-month period immediately following initial assessment. Assessments occurred within 8 weeks of referral and intervention began immediately thereafter.

Outcomes & results: Treatment was significantly more effective than no treatment, over 6 months, both overall (p < 0.001) and for each of the three diagnostic categories (comprehension, expression and speech, each p < 0.001).

Conclusions: An average of 6 h of speech and language therapy in a 6-month period can produce significant improvement in performance, and it has been shown to be more effective than no treatment over the same 6-month period for children with primary speech and/or language impairment.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Evidence-Based Practice
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Language Development Disorders / diagnosis
  • Language Development Disorders / therapy*
  • Language Tests
  • Language Therapy / methods*
  • Speech Disorders / diagnosis
  • Speech Disorders / therapy*
  • Speech Therapy / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome