Perceived gaps in genetics training among audiologists and speech-language pathologists: Lessons from a national survey

Beate Peter, Michael J. Dougherty, E. Kate Reed, Emily Edelman, Karen Hanson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Purpose: The aim of this study was to assess knowledge, self-rated confidence, and perceived relevance of genetics in the clinical practice of audiologists and speech-language pathologists (SLPs) toward a better understanding of the need for genetics education, given that genetics plays a growing role in the diagnosis of hearing impairment and communication disorders. Method: A survey consisting of 8 demographic items and 16 content questions was returned by 233 audiologists and 283 SLPs. Knowledge of applied genetics was queried with clinical scenarios in a multiple-choice format. Self-assessment of clinical confidence and perceived relevance of genetics in one’s field was queried with questions and statements rated on 5-point Likert scales. The benefit of additional training in genetics was rated with a yes/no question, and if answered with yes, suggested topics were entered. Results: A large significant gap between confidence in one’s own genetics skills and the perceived relevance of genetics was evident, regardless of professional group. Over one third of the audiologists and over two thirds of the SLPs indicated low or somewhat low confidence in their own ability to implement principles of genetics, whereas over two thirds of both groups agreed that genetics is relevant for their field. Regardless of group, confidence scores were significantly and positively associated with relevance scores. Over 80% of respondents in both groups indicated that they would benefit from additional training in genetics. Most commonly suggested topics included genetic causes, general information about genetics, and making referrals. Conclusion: Both audiologists and SLPs felt that genetics is relevant for their fields and that additional training in genetics would be beneficial. Future studies should evaluate the effect of genetics training on patient outcomes and the need for incorporating genetics more extensively into audiology and speech-language pathology training programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)408-423
Number of pages16
JournalAmerican journal of speech-language pathology
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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