Interventions for children with SLCN must be evidenced or subject to on-going evaluation
The BCRP thematic report 5 ‘Effectiveness, costing and cost effectiveness of interventions for children and young people with speech, language and communication needs’ discusses effectiveness of SLCN interventions47. Evidence of effectiveness should be considered when selecting interventions for SLCN however, there is a recognition of the need to distinguish between poor evidence and a lack of evidence for interventions.
The BCRP paper and ‘What Works’ identify criteria against which to assess interventions.
This empirical approach ensures that there is a clear process for examining the evidence base for an intervention, whether or not the evidence concludes that the intervention is useful or not.
Where there is a lack of evidence one way or the other, this empirical approach will not be able to include the proposed intervention – not because it isn’t useful but because no one has tested it one way or the other or because the methodology for testing is not sufficiently robust.
Consequently it is also important to contrast this empirical approach with evidence of reported clinical or practitioner outcomes. A number of interventions reported to researchers as part of the initial BCRP study to investigate the range of interventions commonly used in practise did not have an empirically tested evidence base. Yet there were clinician reports of their usefulness and examples of outcomes associated with them. These interventions need to be considered in case they fall into the ‘not tested’ group described above, whilst acknowledging the need for caution. Where services commissioned use interventions in this group, there is a need to ensure that the service provider is required to set up mechanisms for outcome measurement in respect of these interventions. This not only provides data for the commissioners but potentially adds to the empirical evidence base.