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Pediatric Nurses' Perceptions and Experiences with AAC

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Aim: Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) methods often facilitate communication with patients with complex communication needs (CCN). Healthcare workers often come into contact with patients with CCN; however, it is unclear in these situations how those healthcare workers communicate with these patients. This preliminary study aims to determine the amount and type of AAC training for pediatric healthcare workers. The end results of this study will be to develop appropriate training materials to meet nurses’ needs, reduce their stress, and enhance the quality of life for patients’ with CCN.

Methods: Preliminary results from 45 respondents from East Tennessee Children’s Hospital were collected via an online survey using the Qualtrics server. Nurses and CNAs voluntarily responded to questions regarding the types and amounts of training they’ve received regarding AAC.

Preliminary results: Current results indicate few healthcare workers have had training in AAC. In their current environment they have little access to or knowledge regarding AAC. Most nurses and CNAs are familiar with translation tools and that social workers are in place to assist in improving communication. Speech therapy (ST) was only mentioned for 1/31 participants as a resource when having difficulty communicating with a patient.

Conclusion: Preliminary results indicate that there are needs regarding training and education in AAC and the scope of practice of Speech Language Pathologists (SLPs) in the medical setting. We hope to create a training program in order to assist Nurses and CNAs to care for patients while increasing quality of life and reducing stress.


Amanda McRoy    
United States

Jillian McCarthy    
United States


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