Master of Science
Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
This study engaged speech-language pathologists who were familiar with an existing participation-focused paper-based outcome measure called the Focus on the Outcomes of Communication Under Six (FOCUS-34) to understand their current experiences using the tool and identify their recommendations for how a digital solution could improve their ability to use its data clinically. SLPs were actively involved in the early stages of the digital FOCUS-34 development to ensure its clinical utility and support its future implementation in clinical practice. Twenty-three speech-language pathologists participated in virtual focus groups that were run in groups of four or five. Focus groups lasted 60 minutes, were facilitated by a researcher familiar with the FOCUS-34, and were conducted using a semi-structured interview guide. Data were coded inductively and analyzed using thematic analysis. Four main themes were identified: (1) speech-language pathologists view the FOCUS-34 as having potential and some benefits in its current format, (2) FOCUS-34 data are difficult to collect and use because of the currently available formats and supports, (3) speech-language pathologists believe a digital solution could improve service efficiencies, the clinical utility of FOCUS-34 data, and the delivery of family centered services, and (4) suggested features for supporting clinical implementation of a digital FOCUS-34. Engaging clinicians early in the development process was important for ensuring a digital FOCUS-34 would be clinically meaningful and useful, which is expected to facilitate implementation and improve the collection, interpretation, and use of participation-focused data in practice.
Summary for Lay Audience
In Ontario, Canada, families can access freely available services from speech-language pathologists to support children’s communication development through the Preschool Speech and Language Program. As part of this service, children’s outcomes are monitored using a paper-based parent-report measure called the Focus on the Outcomes of Communication Under Six (FOCUS-34). This tool is well established, but recent research has identified barriers to speech-language pathologists using its data in practice, primarily because of its paper format. Speech-language pathologists have expressed the need for a digital version of the FOCUS-34 to improve its clinical utility. This study engaged speech-language pathologists from across Ontario in virtual focus groups to discuss their experiences using the current version of the FOCUS-34, the benefits of a digital solution, and to identify suggested features for a digital solution to maximize the clinical use of FOCUS-34 data. Speech and language pathologists felt the FOCUS-34 had potential and benefits; however, they found the collection and application of its data difficult due to the currently available formats and supports. Speech and language pathologists believed that a digital solution would significantly improve clinical efficiencies, family-centered services, and the clinical utility of FOCUS-34 data. Participants recommended features, layouts, and considerations to improve the clinical utility and implementation of a digital FOCUS-34, along with identifying potential implementation barriers. Clinicians were engaged early in the process of developing a digital version of the FOCUS-34 to ensure their needs would be met by the tool. Once implemented, a digital FOCUS-34 is expected to improve the collection and use of participation-focused data to inform services for children and families.
Bahrami, Boshra, "Engaging Clinicians to Develop a Meaningful Digital Outcome Measurement Tool to Improve Implementation of The Focus on the Outcomes of Communication Under Six (FOCUS)" (2023). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 9347.
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