If an objective swallowing assessment reveals that a particular patient is at risk of aspirating liquids into the trachea while drinking, speech and language therapists may prescribe a commercial “thickening agent” to mix into their drinks. If used correctly, these can help to reduce the risk of aspiration. This study compared the palatability of the five main thickening agents currently available on prescription in the UK. Eight patients, three therapists, and ten therapy students blind-tested three different nonalcoholic drink flavors, thickened with each of the five thickening agents. Their perceptual rating of each of these drinks was recorded using 5-point visual analog scales. Significant differences between the visual analog scale scores for each of the thickening agents was found, independent of the drink flavor. There was no significant difference between the patient and the therapist results. By offering the more palatable thickening agents in drink flavors that patients enjoy, we would hope to improve compliance with speech and language therapy recommendations, thereby reducing the patient's risk of aspiration.
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.