A realist synthesis of interprofessional collaborative practices in early intervention for children with speech, language and communication needs

Jana Langner, Ruben G. Fukkink

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

Background
Interprofessional collaborative practices (IPCP) are considered to be a crucial factor in the optimal support of young children (3–6 years) with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) in inclusive early childhood education and care (ECEC).

Aims
To investigate IPCP in interventions using a collaborative approach for young children with SLCN in ECEC, by identifying mechanisms within IPCP and how these mechanisms relate to specific context factors and professional and child-related outcomes.

Methods
A realist review of 22 empirical intervention studies, published between 1994 and 2019, was conducted to synthesise context-mechanism-outcome (CMO) configurations, combining context factors, IPCP mechanisms and outcomes at staff and child level.

Main Contribution
Reciprocal IPCP mechanisms were reported together with interprofessional intervention practices, whereas one-directional IPCP mechanisms were restricted to gains in professional development. Our review further suggests that collective ownership of intervention goals, combined with personal cooperation and communication skills of staff, is vital for inclusive practices and functional communication of children with SLCN.

Conclusion
Our review has revealed indications for effective IPCP mechanisms, context factors at staff level, and positive outcomes for the professional development of staff working with children with SLCN. In addition, our findings support a link between IPCP and child-related outcomes regarding speech, language and communication development. Future studies should increase our insight into how practitioners, children and families profit from daily collaborative practices.

WHAT THIS PAPER ADDS

What is already known on this subject

Interventions using a collaborative approach for young children (3-6 years) with SLCN in ECEC are considered to be part of the optimal support of these children.

What this paper adds to existing knowledge

Conducting a realist review of 22 empirical studies on collaborative intervention offered the possibility to identify specific context factors, IPCP mechanisms and professional and child-related outcomes and to synthesise CMO configuations. Findings suggest multiple routes from effective delivery of SLCN services to improvement of speech, language and communication development, supporting the suggested beneficial function of collaboration between multiple professions. Collective ownership of intervention goals, combined with personal cooperation and communication skills of staff, seems to be vital for inclusive practices and functional communication of children with SLCN. Reciprocal IPCP mechanisms were reported together with interprofessional intervention practices, whereas one-directional IPCP mechanisms were restricted to gains in professional development.

What are the potential or actual clinical implications of this work?

High-quality collaborative intervention for children with SLCN in requires awareness of and critical reflection on IPCP mechanisms in order to improve outcomes for both professionals and children. Both, institutional structural support and individual communicative and cooperative skills are required to increase interprofessional collaboration with the aim to meet the needs of every individual child with SLCN.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)516-541
JournalInternational Journal of Language & Communication Disorders
Volume58
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023

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