Theses Doctoral

Needs Analysis of Genetics and Genomics in Communication Sciences and Its Disorders: Evidence for Change

Leblanc, Etoile M.

Purpose: Signaled by the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003, rapid and escalating discovery in genome science has initiated a paradigm shift in education training and healthcare practices. This shift has required healthcare educators and professionals to possess a level of genetic and genomic literacy and competency. The current study was designed to survey the current state of the perceptions of genetics and genomics in educational and clinical practices within the field speech-language pathology. Method: Seventy-five program directors of degree programs and 265 speech-language pathologists participated in two web-based surveys. Results: Program directors and speech-language pathologist reported to be aware of recent genetic and genomic advancements in speech-language pathology. Ninety-six percent of program directors expected graduated students to demonstrate competency in genetic and genomic related clinical services. Thirty-six percent of program directors reported graduated students were prepared to understand genetics. Seventy-three percent of speech-language pathology programs offered genetic content in their curricula. In comparison, eighty-three percent of speech-language pathologists reported performing genetic related services within their clinical practices. Less than half of respondents reported confidence in performing clinical services. Speech-language pathologists reported minimal to no knowledge of at least 85% of genetic or genomic principles related to speech-language pathology. Sixty-three percent of speech-language pathologists reported their degree-training program had not prepared them to understand genomics in speech-language pathology. Results of a needs index revealed discrepancies between perceptions of speech-language pathologist's performed clinical services and program director's expected competencies, and between level of perceived preparedness and perceived knowledge. Thematic analysis across perceptions, course content, expected competencies, clinical services, and areas of knowledge reflected principles of Mendelian inheritance and single gene disorders. This "medical genetics" perspective is one typically used prior to the completion of Human Genome Project in 2003. Conclusion: The results of this investigative study suggest the field of communication sciences and its disorders is not keeping pace with the demands of new advancements in genetics and genomics. Several discrepancies may contribute to misconceptions and misinformation surrounding genetics and genomic in speech-language pathology. This study provides a foundation for discussion of curriculum reform at the graduate level and policy changes in standard practices of speech-language pathologists at the national level.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Speech and Language Pathology
Thesis Advisors
Saxman, John H.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
June 7, 2012