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Impact of an International Training on Interventionists' Expertise in Cleft Palate Speech: Results From Oaxaca, Mexico.

PURPOSE: International cleft lip and palate surgical charities recognize that speech therapy is essential for successful care of individuals after palate repair. The challenge is how to ensure that cleft speech interventionists (i.e., speech-language pathologists and other speech therapy providers) provide quality care. This exploratory study investigated effects of a two-stage cleft training in Oaxaca, Mexico, aimed at preparing speech interventionists to provide research-based services to individuals born with cleft palate. Changes in the interventionists' content knowledge and clinical skills were examined.

METHOD: Twenty-three cleft speech interventionists from Mexico, Guatemala, and Nicaragua participated in a hybrid two-stage training, completing an online Spanish cleft speech course and a 5-day in-person training in Oaxaca. In-person training included a didactic component and supervised clinical practice with 14 individuals with repaired cleft palates. Testing of interventionists' content knowledge and clinical skills via questionnaires occurred before the online course (Test 1), immediately before in-person training (Test 2), and immediately after in-person training (Test 3). Qualitative data on experience/practice were also collected.

RESULTS: Significant increases in interventionists' overall content knowledge and clinical skills were found posttraining. Knowledge and clinical skills increased significantly between Tests 1 and 2. Clinical skills, but not knowledge, showed further significant increases between Tests 2 and 3. Posttraining, interventionists demonstrated greater expertise in research-based treatment, and fewer reported they would use nonspeech oral motor exercises (NSOME).

CONCLUSIONS: Findings provide preliminary support for such two-stage international trainings in preparing local speech interventionists to deliver high-quality speech services to individuals born with cleft palate. While content knowledge appears to be acquired primarily from the online course, the two-stage training incorporating in-person supervised practice working with individuals born with cleft palate may best enhance continued clinical skill development, including replacement of NSOME with evidence-based speech treatment. Such trainings contribute to building capacity for sustainable quality services for this population in underresourced regions.

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