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Continuing Education Needs of Speech-Language Pathologists for Assessing and Treating Children With Cleft Palate: A National Analysis Across Areas of Varying Population Density.

PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to identify training gaps and continuing education (CE) needs for speech-language pathologists (SLPs) in evaluating and treating children with cleft palate across and among areas of varying population density.

METHOD: An anonymous 35-question survey lasting approximately 10-15 min was created in Qualtrics based on a previously published study. The survey information and link were electronically distributed to American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)-certified SLPs through ASHA listservs, social media, individual-state SLP organizations, and an e-mail list of publicly listed SLPs. A total of 359 survey responses were collected.

RESULTS: Respondents varied in terms of age, type of certification, practice location, and clinical experience with cleft palate, with the largest percentage (46.7%) of respondents in a school-based setting. Only 28.5% reported currently feeling comfortable treating children with cleft palate. Respondents reported conventions/conferences (25.4%) and webinars (23.2%) were the most helpful resources, but DVDs were frequently not used for CE. Information from the child's cleft team (84.4%) and mentors/colleagues (70%) were considered high-quality resources. Respondents indicated information on treatment of articulation (79.2%) and resonance (78.4%) disorders as well as specific therapy techniques (76.9%) would be very helpful for clinical practice. Population density significantly influenced how respondents ranked the perceived helpfulness and quality of different resources as well as desired topics for future resources.

CONCLUSIONS: There is a continued need for adequate training and CE opportunities for SLPs, particularly related to assessing and treating children with cleft palate. Increased access to high-quality CE resources will be key to filling educational gaps present for SLPs, especially in areas of low-population density.

SUPPLEMENTAL MATERIAL: https://doi.org/10.23641/asha.24891423.

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