National survey of speech and language therapy provision for people with Parkinson's disease in the United Kingdom: therapists’ practices

Nick Miller, Katherine Deane, Diana Jones, Emma Noble, Catherine Gibb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


Background Communication and swallowing changes feature prominently in Parkinson's disease. People with Parkinson's disease appear under-represented in speech–language therapy clinics in the United Kingdom. The nature of the speech–language therapy services in the UK to people with Parkinson's disease has not been examined. Aims To ascertain the number of speech–language therapists in the UK who work with people with Parkinson's disease; to establish the nature of contacts in terms of caseloads, referral stages and routes, management practices, assessments and treatments employed; and to reflect on service provision in relation to published guidelines. Methods & Procedures A questionnaire survey of speech–language therapists. Outcomes & Results A total of 185 speech–language therapists responded. They were treating a median of three (inter-quartile range (IQR) = 1–6) people with Parkinson's disease with a further median of five (IQR = 1–10) on review. The majority of contacts were for assessment and advice given, especially in later and earlier stages of Parkinson's disease. Typically, respondents offered a median of six sessions (IQR = 6–8) of treatment, each session lasting a median of 45 min (IQR = 45–60), delivered over a median period of 42 days (IQR = 28–56). Speech–language therapists worked in a variety of settings, predominantly hospital. They received referrals principally from medical specialities, from whom the majority had support. Referrals were perceived in general to be later in Parkinson's disease progression than desired. Assessment focused primarily on impairment measures, in contrast to a belief that therapy focus on activity and participation issues. Speech–language therapists were relatively confident in treating people with Parkinson's disease, but 75% wanted more training. Conclusions & Implications Speech–language therapist services for people with Parkinson's disease in the UK are restricted on most dimensions. Management practices often do not match guideline suggestions. Consideration needs to be given to the training for, content of and delivery of speech–language therapy services for people with Parkinson's disease.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-201
JournalInternational Journal of Language & Communication Disorders
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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