speechBITE – Answering the Need for Better Access to Evidence


Leanne Togher, Kate Smith, Melissa Brunner, Emma Power, Tricia McCabe, Natalie Munro and Elizabeth Murray


 Have you been looking for treatment research but don’t know where to start? Most speech language pathologists (SLPs) don’t have time to spend hours searching different databases to find published research. Evaluating the scientific quality of research can be another hurdle for clinicians who are looking for the best evidence to improve client outcomes.

The good news is that SLPs now have access to a free, online database designed specifically to address their needs – speechBITE (www.speechbite.com). The speechBITE database provides access and appraisal of intervention research in SLP and is used by clinicians and students in more than 120 countries. Have you used speechBITE yet?


What is speechBITE?

speechBITE (the Speech Pathology Database for Best Interventions and Treatment Efficacy) is an internet database designed to assist SLPs with evidence-based clinical decision making. It is a searchable catalogue of peer-reviewed published treatment research for the entire scope of SLP practice. speechBITE provides the citations and, where possible, the abstracts for these references. speechBITE is rapidly becoming a key evidence-based practice resource for SLPs worldwide. Since launching in 2008, the number of searches on speechBITE has increased by 200%. 

How is speechBITE different to other databases such as MEDline?

speechBITE is different because our staff search 8 databases (e.g. MEDline, PsycINFO, CINAHL) EVERY MONTH and then ONLY upload speech pathology treatment research papers with empirical data. So, our information is constantly updated. It is also different because when you do a search, the results are displayed with the highest levels of evidence listed first (systematic reviews first, then randomized controlled trials (RCTs), then non RCTs, then case series, then single subject designs) AND almost all group comparison studies on speechBITE (RCTs and non RCTs) have been rated using the PEDro-P scale.




speechBITE staff screen all references to ensure they meet the following criteria: they must be published in a peer-reviewed journal, include an intervention relevant to SLP therapy practice, include participants with (or at risk of) a communication and/or swallowing disorder and provide empirical data on treatment efficacy. Currently speechBITE has more than 3800 references across all levels of evidence. The database is growing as new references are added regularly.


Why should I use speechBITE?

speechBITE addresses two common complaints from clinicians about using evidence-based practice. The first problem is the sheer amount of published research which requires substantial amounts of time to search and then critically appraise research articles. Thus, the first benefit of speechBITE is that we have done the searching in advance and found the best evidence, so that SLPs can find the answer to a clinical question in less than 3 minutes.

 The second complaint is that SLPs report not having the skills to critically evaluate published research studies. They might be able to identify that it is a randomised controlled trial but is it a well designed one? So, the second key benefit of speechBITE is that our staff rate the methodological quality of randomised controlled trials which means clinicians can search our database and easily find the best levels of evidence to support their practice. This helps in the search to find the best treatment evidence for your client, and therefore provide up to date therapy.


How do I search speechBITE?

Searching speechBITE is simple and fast. Go to the SEARCH page and enter a Keyword, Author or Journal to locate an intervention study in your area of interest. Or you can make a selection from the drop-down menus to locate research according to the following areas:

  • Target area (e.g. speech, language, voice, fluency, swallowing etc)
  • Intervention type (e.g. AAC, computer based intervention, etc)
  • Service delivery (e.g. group, distance, etc)
  • Method (e.g. systematic review, randomised controlled trial)
  • Client sub-group (e.g. traumatic brain injury, hearing impairment, stroke, dementia, autism, intellectual disability, etc)
  • Age group(e.g. children, adolescents, adults)

Click the ADD button to save the results you want to keep. Then you can EMAIL or PRINT the results.

Methodological Ratings

Almost all group comparison treatment studies on speechBITE have a methodological rating which helps clinicians and students identify the scientific quality of the research studies. Randomised and non-randomised controlled trials (RCTs and Non-RCTs) are scored out of 10 using the PEDro-P scale. The PEDro-P scale is derived from the PEDro scale which has been shown to be reliable in physiotherapy [1]. At present, ratings for over 1000 RCTs and Non-RCTs are available on speechBITE. 

speechBITE is also about to begin rating the methodological quality of single case experimental designs (SCEDs) using the newly revised 30-point RoBiN-T scale [2,3].

Ratings on both the PEDro-P scale and RoBiN-T scale are completed by at least two trained and independent SLPs. These ratings tell us the “believability” (validity) of studies and are designed to give you an idea of the scientific rigour used in the study to help you quickly identify the highest quality studies. At present the average PEDro-P rating on speechBITE is 4/10 and a score of 6+ is considered to have robust methodological quality. speechBITE recently published an article in the International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders showing good to excellent reliability of PEDro-P ratings undertaken by raters on the speechBITE database [4]. The journal article can be found by clicking here


Online Rating Training Program

Do you want to learn how to critically appraise research articles? speechBITE has a freeonline training program for learning how to apply the PEDro-P rating scale to treatment research. We encourage clinicians, researchers or students to do this training and learn how to rate the methodological quality of RCTs and Non-RCTs. You can also assess your knowledge about rating papers at the end of the program.Key featuresof the training program include: a step-by-step interactive guide to understanding and applying the scale to research; key definitions for each of the 11 PEDro-P scale criteria; practical examples provided for each criterion; and a short interactive test using real research articles.    

Who’s using speechBITE?

speechBITE is used daily by SLPs throughout Australia. We are also receiving searches from over 120 countries and in 2012 we had over one million hits. Social media is also used by speechBITE to provide updates regarding the database, recently published articles, evidence based information and scientific snippets. You can follow us on Twitter @speechBITE and ‘Like us’ on Facebook.

Who is responsible for speechBITE?

speechBITE is an evidence-based practice initiative between Speech Pathology Australia and The University of Sydney under the leadership of Professor Leanne Togher. speechBITE gratefully acknowledges funding support from Speech Pathology Australia (SPA), the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT), the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), Guild Insurance, the National Relay Service, the Motor Accidents Authority (MAA) of NSW, and the Motor Accident Insurance Commission (MAIC) of QLD.


Future directions

We are excited to announce that speechBITE will soon launch a new-look website featuring a new design, layout and information as well as upgraded search functions to make it even easier to find what you’re looking for. We will be adding new sources of evidence including Clinical Practice Guidelines. So, keep an eye out for our redesigned website,as we will be launching it at the ASHA 2013 Convention in Chicago in November.

Click here to visit the website. 
Click here to follow us on Twitter. 
Click here to follow us on Facebook. 
Click here to contact the speechBITE Project Manager Kate Smith.

The speechBITE team

Professor Leanne Togher, speechBITE Project Leader, The University of Sydney, Australia
Dr Emma Power, The University of Sydney, Australia
Dr Tricia McCabe, The University of Sydney, Australia
Dr Natalie Munro, The University of Sydney, Australia
Elizabeth Murray, The University of Sydney, Australia
Melissa Brunner, speechBITE Project Officer, The University of Sydney, Australia
Kate Smith, speechBITE Project Manager, The University of Sydney, Australia


1. Maher, C. G., Sherrington, C., Herbert, R. D., Moseley, A. M., & Elkins, M. (2003). Reliability of the PEDro scale for rating quality of randomized controlled trials. Physical Therapy, 83, 713–721.

2. Tate, R., McDonald, S., Perdices, M., Togher, L., Schultz, R., & Savage, S. (2008). Rating the methodological quality of single-subject designs and n-of-1 trials: Introducing the Single-Case Experimental Design (SCED) Scale. Neuropsychological Rehabilitation, 18,385–401.

3. Tate, R., Perdices, M., Rosenkoetter, U., Wakim, D., Godbee, K., Togher, L., & McDonald, S., (In press). Revision of a method quality rating scale for single-case experimental designs and n-of-1 trials: the 15-item Risk of Bias in N-of-1 Trials (RoBiNT) Scale, Neuropsychological Rehabilitation.

4. Murray, E., Power, E., Togher, L., McCabe, P., Munro, N. and Smith, K. (2013). The reliability of methodological ratings for speechBITE using the PEDro-P scale. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 48: 297–306. doi: 10.1111/1460-6984.12007


Corresponding author


Professor Leanne Togher

PO Box 170 Lidcombe, NSW Australia 1825

T: 61 2 9351 9639

F: 61 2 9351 9163

Authors are faculty of Health Sciences, The University of Sydney, Australia