Developmental Language Disorder: From a Health Professionals’ Perspective
Language Disorder (LD) is a common yet widely misunderstood diagnosis, affecting access to support and underrepresentation in research. The requirement for clarity surrounding terminology and diagnostic criteria associated with LD led Bishop and colleagues (2016; 2017) to run a Delphi panel in order to reach a common consensus on the matter and raise the public profile of the topic. It was decided that Specific Language Impairment (SLI) will be replaced by Developmental Language Disorder (DLD), to describe individuals who have a LD that is not associated with any biomedical condition. The current study was interested in exploring the awareness and understanding of LD amongst health professionals who have the potential to come across this diagnosis in their practice. A group of Health Visitors (HVs, n = 30) and General Practitioners (GPs, n = 78) from a Health Board in Central Scotland participated in an online questionnaire. Results showed that HVs have a better awareness and understanding of the terms LD, SLI and DLD, in comparison to GPs, with all health professionals being most aware of the term LD and least aware of SLI. Health professionals were not aware of the recent terminology changes around LD and the majority expressed having no preference in terminology between DLD and SLI. Although many health professionals had received training in LD at some point in the past, the majority acknowledged that more training would be beneficial to their practice. Possible explanations and implications are discussed. Altogether, findings from this study suggest a requirement for future research to focus on the provision of good quality training for health professionals, exploring who should deliver it, who should receive it, what the content should cover, and how frequent it should be.