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School-based allied health interventions for children and young people affected by neurodisability: A systematic evidence map

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Lindsay Pennington



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Purpose: To systematically map available evidence for school-based interventions led by allied health (i.e. occupational therapy, physiotherapy, and/or speech and language therapy). Materials and Methods: We searched for studies in pre-school, primary, secondary, or post-secondary settings, published 2004-2020. We coded study, population, and intervention characteristics. Outcomes were coded inductively, categorised, and linked to the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health. Results: We included 337 studies (33 countries) in an interactive evidence map. Participants were mainly pre-school and primary-aged, including individuals with neurodisability and whole-school populations. Interventions targeted wide-ranging outcomes, including educational participation (e.g. writing, reading) and characteristics of school environments (e.g. educators’ knowledge and skills, peer support). Universal, targeted, and intensive interventions were reported in 21.7%, 38.9%, and 60.2% of studies, respectively. Teachers and teaching assistants delivered interventions in 45.4% and 22.6% of studies, respectively. 43.9% of studies conducted early feasibility testing/piloting and 54.9% had ≤30 participants. Sixty-two randomised controlled trials focused on intervention evaluation or implementation. Conclusions: In the United Kingdom, future research should take forward school-based allied health interventions that relate directly to agreed research priorities. Internationally, future priorities include implementation of tiered (universal, targeted, intensive) intervention models and appropriate preparation and deployment of the education workforce.

Publication metadata

Author(s): McAnuff J, Gibson J, Webster R, Kaur-Bola K, Crombie S, Grayston A, Pennington L

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Disability and Rehabilitation

Year: 2023

Volume: 45

Issue: 7

Pages: 1239-1257

Online publication date: 21/04/2022

Acceptance date: 24/03/2022

Date deposited: 16/06/2023

ISSN (print): 0963-8288

ISSN (electronic): 1464-5165

Publisher: Taylor and Francis


DOI: 10.1080/09638288.2022.2059113


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