Perceptions of Nursing Students of the Role of the SLP in HIV/AIDS Intervention

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Due to advances in medicine, persons living with HIV/AIDS (PLHA) are living longer lives, changing the disease progression from a terminal disease to a chronic but manageable disease. As a result, the roles of healthcare workers, which include speech-language pathologists (SLPs), are developing to reflect the longterm rehabilitation needs of PLHA. PLHA have communication and feeding disorders due to the HIV attacking the central nervous system, which affects auditory functioning, tongue and laryngeal functions, vocal quality, and oral cavity lesions that impact swallowing abilities. Among the services needed are those offered by the SLP to assess and provide intervention for communication and feeding disorders. PLHA may experience communication-related disorders secondary to potentially life-threatening medical complications. The healthcare team approach as a model for HIV-rehabilitation is critical to collaborating on assessment and treatment goals for PLHA. Nurses, as the gatekeepers to a patient’s overall health care needs, play a key role in leading the healthcare team and advocating for patient needs. However, a dearth of information exists regarding collaboration between nurse practitioners and the SLP regarding this vulnerable population. The purpose of this project was to explore nursing students’ perceptions of both the nurse practitioners and the SLP’s role in the healthcare needs of people living with HIV/AIDS through survey research. This investigation seeks to understand the roles of nurse practitioners and SLPs in HIVrehabilitation. A descriptive research design was selected for this study. The participants were nursing students in a program at a regional state university. An online survey was developed to determine the participants’ understanding and perceptions of the role of the SLP in HIV/AIDS intervention. The survey included four concise sections, namely biographical information, roles of nurse practitioners and SLPs, communication disorders associated with HIV/AIDS, and interprofessional collaboration. The survey was comprised of 27 open and closed-ended questions. Participants were requested to participate in the survey via e-mail which allowed access to the survey through a hyperlink. Data was analyzed using descriptive statistics. Results include participants’ demographics, perceptions of the roles of both nurse practitioners and SLP’s in service provision to PLHA, communication disorders associated with HIV/AIDS, and interprofessional collaboration between the two professions. The results from the survey suggest that there is a need for interprofessional education to promote the role of the SLP in assessing and treating communication and feeding disorders in PLHA. A need was identified to better prepare both Nursing and SLP students to collaborate as future professionals in order to improve the health care options for PLHA.


Johnson City, TN

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