Adult Dysphagia Assessment in the UK and Ireland: Are SLTs Assessing the Same Factors?


This is the first study to examine dysphagia assessment practices of UK/Ireland speech and language therapists. The aims were to (1) examine practice patterns across clinicians, (2) determine levels of consistency in practice, and (3) compare practices of clinicians in the UK/Ireland with those previously reported of clinicians in the United States. A questionnaire, developed for earlier U.S. research, was adapted following a pilot study. The resulting email survey was completed by 296 speech and language therapists working with dysphagic adults. Respondents were asked to rate how frequently they use 31 components of a clinical dysphagia examination. Consistency was determined by calculating the percentage of respondents who agreed on frequency of use. Low frequency of use was reported for four components: trials with compensatory techniques, obtain patient’s drug history, assessment of speech articulation/intelligibility, and screening/assessment of mental abilities. Variability among clinicians was high, with inconsistency observed for 6/31 components (19%) and high consistency for only 10/31 (32%). Results were compared with data from the earlier U.S. study. Notable differences in practice were observed for five components: cervical auscultation, trials with compensatory techniques, gag reflex, assessment of sensory function, and screening/assessment of mental abilities. Inconsistency among UK/Ireland clinicians was higher than in the comparator U.S. study. The clinical implications of these findings are discussed.

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The authors thank Jill Cobb at the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists for creating the database and all the SLTs who participated in the study.

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Correspondence to Claire Bateman BMedSci, MSc.

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Bateman, C., Leslie, P. & Drinnan, M.J. Adult Dysphagia Assessment in the UK and Ireland: Are SLTs Assessing the Same Factors?. Dysphagia 22, 174–186 (2007).

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  • Swallowing
  • Dysphagia
  • Deglutition
  • Deglutition disorders
  • Survey
  • Practice patterns
  • Clinical assessment