Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences in Workers’ Health Reference Centres in Brazil

ABSTRACT Purpose: to investigate the presence of Speech-Language and Hearing (SLH) professionals in the teams of Workers’ Health Reference Centres (Centros de Referência em Saúde do Trabalhador - CEREST) in Brazil, their distribution and features related to inclusion and activities. Methods: a descriptive, epidemiological study, in which all the CERESTs in the country were units of observation. Primary data were collected by applying a questionnaire to the CEREST Coordinator or one of their designated representatives. Results: 158 of the 199 eligible CERESTs participated in the research. In 2014, 48.1% of these CEREST had an SLH professional on their team, with the highest number in the Southeast and the lowest in the North Region. When present, statutory contracts were the most common form of employment. Approximately 75% of the CEREST with a SLH professional in the team reported surveillance activities in general, as well as actions specific to noise-induced hearing loss and work-related voice disorders. However, in 7.9% of these units, the SLH professionals were exclusively dedicated to clinical care. Conclusion: this study describes and examines the incipient inclusion of SLH professionals in CEREST, providing evidence that indicates regional inequalities and reveals that, despite generally working in health surveillance activities, there remain units where the SLH professionals are only dedicated to specialized care.