The role of data in clinical decision-making: A descriptive study
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The present descriptive study evaluated 224 short term goals contained within therapy logs completed by pre-professional speech-language pathology students at a university based speech-language and hearing clinic. Recorded treatment data was analyzed for sufficiency for use in valid clinical decision making. First, a set of evaluatory criteria were developed from the existing literature. Six criteria for data sufficiency were outlined: presence of baseline data, demonstrated stability of baseline performance, minimum phase length of three data points, presence of both probe data and a maintenance phase, and specification within the goal of the length of time over which proficient performance must be demonstrated in order for the goal to be met. These criteria were then applied to the data collected to address the included short term goals. Results indicated that data for only 25% of goals included baseline data, while only 3% contained baseline of adequate phase length to address stability. The majority of treatment phases were also shown to be insufficient in length, averaging 2 data points. Use of probe data and maintenance phases were not found. Only one short term goal included was sufficiently specific. Discussion of recommendations based on this study are included in the full text.