Converging Communication Vulnerabilities in Health Care: An Emerging Role for Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists The needs to improve health care outcomes and reduce health care costs in the United States are important national health policy goals. Research suggests that improving patient-provider communication is a critical step toward those goals. Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) and audiologists are uniquely educated and clinically prepared to lead in this ... Article
Article  |   March 01, 2011
Converging Communication Vulnerabilities in Health Care: An Emerging Role for Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Sarah W. Blackstone
    Augmentative Communication Inc, Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Communication Enhancement, Monterey, CA
  • Karin Ruschke
    International Language Services, Inc., Chicago, IL
  • Amy Wilson-Stronks
    CulturaLink, Inc., Indianapolis, IN
  • Charles Lee
    Polyglot Systems, Durham, NC
Article Information
Augmentative & Alternative Communication / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Healthcare Settings / Professional Issues & Training / Regulatory, Legislative & Advocacy / Language Disorders / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Articles
Article   |   March 01, 2011
Converging Communication Vulnerabilities in Health Care: An Emerging Role for Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists
SIG 14 Perspectives on Communication Disorders and Sciences in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CLD) Populations, March 2011, Vol. 18, 3-11. doi:10.1044/cds18.1.3
SIG 14 Perspectives on Communication Disorders and Sciences in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CLD) Populations, March 2011, Vol. 18, 3-11. doi:10.1044/cds18.1.3

The needs to improve health care outcomes and reduce health care costs in the United States are important national health policy goals. Research suggests that improving patient-provider communication is a critical step toward those goals. Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) and audiologists are uniquely educated and clinically prepared to lead in this effort. This article advocates for becoming involved in implementing new standards and regulations that address the need for “effective communication, cultural competence and patient- and family-centered care.” Using three case examples, the article highlights the convergence of communication challenges faced by 4 groups with communication vulnerabilities: those with speech, language, hearing, vision and cognitive impairments; limited English proficiency; little knowledge about healthcare (poor health literacy); and/or cultural, sexual identity, or religious differences. Authors discuss the need for SLPs and audiologists to advocate for the use of key assistive technologies and strategies that help individuals who are communication-vulnerable interact more effectively with their health care providers. They also call for active and systematic collaborations among professions representing groups currently at high risk for health disparities. As Henry Ford said, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”

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