Clinical Practices in Head and Neck Cancer: A Speech-Language Pathologist Practice Pattern Survey

Ashley M. Logan, Mario A. Landera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Clinical practices of speech-language pathologists (SLP) treating head and neck cancer (HNC) patients range widely despite literature trending toward best practices. This survey study was designed to identify current patterns and assess for gaps in clinical implementation of research evidence. Method: A web-based survey was distributed to SLPs via listserv and social media outlets. Descriptive statistics and group calculations were completed to identify trends and associations in responses. Results: Of 152 received surveys, the majority of respondents were hospital-based (86%) and had greater than 5 years of experience (65%). There was group consensus for the use of prophylactic exercise programs (95%), recommendations for SLP intervention during HNC treatment (75%), and use of maintenance programs post-treatment (97%). Conversely, no group consensus was observed for use of pre-treatment swallow evaluations, frequency of service provision, and content of therapy sessions. Variation in clinical decision making was noted in use of prophylactic feeding tubes and number of patients taking nothing by mouth during treatment. No associations were found between years of experience and decision-making practices, nor were any associations found between practice setting and clinical decision making. Conclusion: Despite the growing body of literature outlining evidence-based treatment practices for HNC patients, clinical practice patterns among SLPs continue to vary widely resulting in inconsistent patient care across practice settings. As compared to prior similar data, increased alignment with best practices was observed relative to early referrals, implementation of prophylactic intervention programs, and intervention with the SLP during the period of HNC treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAnnals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology
StateAccepted/In press - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • cancer
  • dysphagia
  • usual practices

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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