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The economic work-stream


Although we are beginning to understand more about which types of intervention are effective for children with speech , language and communication needs (SLCN), very little attention has been paid to how much services for these children cost. This is important because a better understanding this issue would help those commissioning services plan more effectively and ultimately lead to the more efficient delivery of services.


The work-stream will use the existing literature and available datasets to develop criteria for developing good quality economic evaluations in the future, and thus provide evidence to support the provision and commissioning of services for children with SLCN.

We are planning three main projects:-

  1. We will build on the work of project 2 to establish available routine data relevant to economic analysis. We will contribute to the development of a framework for subsequent cost-benefit analysis (CBA) of the investments being currently made in SCLN provision ie the economic value of education attainment and achievement, largely measured by qualification achievement.
  2. We will review the literature in relation to SLCN to identify a core set of dimensions to be assessed in an economic evaluation of SLC interventions; service use and supports; costs; and output and outcome indicators and measures.
  3. We will develop methods for estimating the unit costs of SLCN interventions. This will include the design of a decision-tree to estimate the longer-term cost implications of children and young people with SLCN.



These projects will start in year 1 and will develop throughout the Better Communication Research Programme. They will draw upon and feed into the ‘Best Evidence’ self-report survey (Project 1) and to the most effective ways of monitoring service uptake in the prospective work-stream (work-stream 4). The economic work-stream will also feed into the development of research questions for years 2 and 3 of the programme. Over time an economic model will be developed to include findings emerging from this programme on, for example, incidence and education trajectories, resource use and costs (intervention survey, prospective sample, local data) and longer-term outcomes into adulthood.