A systematic review of the use of telehealth in speech, language and hearing sciences

J Telemed Telecare. 2015 Oct;21(7):367-76. doi: 10.1177/1357633X15583215. Epub 2015 May 29.


Introduction: We conducted a systematic literature review to investigate the domain of speech-language and hearing sciences (SLHS) in telehealth.

Methods: The databases used for the literature search were Web of Knowledge, Pubmed, Scopus, Embase and Scielo. The inclusion criteria consisted of papers published up to August 2014. Papers without peer-review evaluation, and those without abstracts or available full texts were excluded.

Results: A total of 103 papers were selected. The selected studies have focused primarily on hearing (32.1%), followed by speech (19.4%), language (16.5%), voice (8.7%), swallowing (5.8%), multiple areas (13.6%) and others (3.9%). The majority of the studies focused on assessment (36.9%) or intervention (36.9%). The use of telehealth in SLHS has been increasing in many countries, especially in the last 5 years. The country with the largest number of published studies was the United States of America (32.03%), followed by Australia (29.12%). The remaining studies were distributed in lower numbers among other countries.

Discussion: The advancement of information and communication technologies provides more favourable conditions for providing distance care in several areas. Most of studies concluded that the telehealth procedure had advantages over the non-telehealth alternative approach (85.5%); however, 13.6% reported that it was unclear whether the telehealth procedure had advantages. Some barriers still need to be overcome, such as technology, training, regulation, acceptance and recognition of the benefits of this practice by the public and professionals. The need for speech-language pathologists and audiologists to adapt to this new health care modality is evident.

Keywords: Telehealth; tele-education; telehealth; telemedicine; telerehabilitation.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Audiology / methods
  • Audiometry / methods
  • Delivery of Health Care / methods*
  • Hearing Disorders / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Language Disorders / therapy*
  • Language Therapy / methods
  • Speech Disorders / therapy*
  • Speech Therapy / methods
  • Speech-Language Pathology / methods
  • Telemedicine* / methods