A review of the efficacy and effectiveness of using telehealth for paediatric speech and language assessment

J Telemed Telecare. 2014 Oct;20(7):405-12. doi: 10.1177/1357633X14552388.


We reviewed the literature relating to the use of telehealth for paediatric speech and language assessment. Four databases, and relevant reference lists, were searched for articles published between January 2004 and July 2014. A total of 180 articles were identified, of which only five were relevant. All studies assessed efficacy using method comparison techniques; no studies assessed effectiveness. The method comparison studies investigated the validity and/or reliability of speech and language assessment via telehealth, when compared with face-to-face assessment. Studies varied in terms of participant group, assessment tools, statistical analysis and telehealth equipment. The papers reviewed presented some evidence that telehealth can be used to make valid assessments of oromotor function, speech intelligibility and language. Articulation screening via telehealth was found to be valid, but there was conflicting evidence about full articulation assessment. Intra- and inter-rater reliability was good for all speech and language tasks, with the exception of oromotor assessment, which also had reduced reliability when assessed face-to-face. There were discrepancies between the two modalities for individual oromotor tasks, judgement of individual speech sounds, detection of pluralisation, and discriminating between similar sounding words; these have the potential to be clinically important. Evidence regarding satisfaction was extremely limited, with only one study reporting parental satisfaction, and no studies reporting child or clinician satisfaction. Although there is limited evidence to support the validity and reliability of speech and language assessment via telehealth, it is probably not yet sufficient to influence clinical practice or policy development.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Language Development Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Language Tests / standards*
  • Mass Screening / methods
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Pediatrics / methods*
  • Remote Consultation / methods*
  • Remote Consultation / standards
  • Speech Articulation Tests / methods
  • Speech Disorders / diagnosis*