Guideline adherence in speech and language therapy in stroke aftercare. A health insurance claims data analysis

PLoS One. 2022 Feb 3;17(2):e0263397. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0263397. eCollection 2022.


Background: Impairments to comprehension and production of speech (aphasia, dysarthria) and swallowing disorders (dysphagia) are common sequelae of stroke, reducing patients' quality of life and social participation. Treatment oriented on evidence-based guidelines seems likely to improve outcomes. Currently, little is known about guideline adherence in stroke aftercare for the above-mentioned sequelae. This study aims to analyse guideline adherence in the treatment of aphasia, dysarthria and dysphagia after stroke, based on suitable test parameters, and to determine factors that influence the implementation of recommended therapies.

Methods: Six test parameters were defined, based on systematic study of guidelines for the treatment of speech impairments and swallowing disorders (e.g. comprehensive diagnostics, early initiation and continuity). Guideline adherence in treatment was tested using claims data from four statutory health insurance companies. Multivariate logistic and linear regression analyses were performed in order to test the outcomes.

Results: 4,486 stroke patients who were diagnosed with specific disorders or received speech therapy were included in the study. The median age was 78 years; the proportion of women was 55.9%. Within the first year after the stroke, 90.3% of patients were diagnosed with speech impairments and swallowing disorders. Overall, 44.1% of patients received outpatient speech and language therapy aftercare. Women were less frequently diagnosed with specific disorders (OR 0.70 [95%CI:0.55/0.88], p = 0.003) and less frequently received longer therapy sessions (OR 0.64 [95%CI:0.43/0.94], p = 0.022). Older age and longer hospitalization duration increased the likelihood of guideline recommendations being implemented and of earlier initiation of stroke aftercare measures.

Conclusions: Our observations indicate deficits in the implementation of guideline recommendations in stroke aftercare. At the same time, they underscore the need for regular monitoring of implementation measures in stroke aftercare to address group-based disparities in care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aftercare
  • Aged
  • Aphasia / rehabilitation
  • Data Analysis
  • Deglutition Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Dysarthria / rehabilitation
  • Female
  • Germany
  • Guideline Adherence*
  • Humans
  • Insurance Claim Review*
  • Insurance, Health / standards
  • Language Therapy / standards*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Quality of Life
  • Registries
  • Speech
  • Speech Therapy / standards*
  • Stroke / complications*
  • Stroke Rehabilitation / standards*
  • Treatment Outcome

Grant support

LS recieved funding for this study through the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research [Project NAVICARE, 01GY1601,]. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.