Sensitivity and specificity of a low-cost screening protocol for identifying children at risk for language disorders
Keywords:Primary Health Care, Child Language, Language Disorders, Risk Factors, Sensitivity and Specificity
OBJECTIVES: To compare the diagnostic accuracy of a low-cost screening test for identifying children at risk for language disorders with that of a specific language assessment. METHODS: The study was conducted during a polio vaccination campaign in basic health units in western Sa˜o Paulo, Brazil. The parents/guardians of 1000 children aged between 0 and 5 years were asked to answer questions of a specific screening test. The instrument consisted of a uniform set of questions about the main milestones in language development (from 0 to 5 years of age) with scaled scores to assess responses. There were no exclusion criteria. After the screening test, the children were referred to a specific language assessment by ABFW, following a determined flow of referrals. The results obtained in the screening were compared to those obtained in the specific language assessment; then, the sensitivity, specificity, accuracy, and positive and negative predictive values were determined for the screening test. Children who failed the screening test also underwent an audiological evaluation. The statistical significance was set at 5%. RESULTS: The majority of the participants were aged between 4 and 5 years (21.82%) and were male (51.6%). The sensitivity and specificity values were 82.5% and 98.93%, respectively. The area under the curve was 0.907 (0.887–0.925), and the screening test showed 96% accuracy. CONCLUSIONS: The screening test showed high diagnostic efficiency in determining the risk of language disorders in children aged between 0 and 5 years.