Background: Data on the population epidemiology of dysphagia are scarce. Little is known about the prevalence, risk factors and impact on quality of life of dysphagia in the general community.
Aim: To determine the magnitude and impact of dysphagia in the general community.
Methods: A random sample of 1000 individuals of Sydney, Australia, were mailed a validated self-report questionnaire to assess dysphagia. Measured were dysphagia symptoms, potential mechanisms, risk factors, psychological disorders, quality of life and demographics.
Results: The response rate of included subjects (n=926) was 73% (n=672). Dysphagia ever was reported by 16% (n=110). Multiple logistic regression analysis found that odynophagia was independently associated with gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GERD) (OR=3.41, 95% CI: 1.16-10.04). Intermittent dysphagia was independently associated with GERD (OR=2.96, 95% CI: 1.76-4.98) and anxiety (OR=1.09, 95% CI: 1.01-1.19). The presence of progressive dysphagia was independently associated with depression (OR=1.34, 95% CI: 1.07-1.67). Progressive dysphagia was independently associated with reduced ‘general health’ (OR=0.95, 95% CI: 0.90-0.99), while intermittent dysphagia was associated with a reduction in the ‘role physical’ subscale (OR=0.98, 95% CI: 0.97-0.99).
Conclusions: Dysphagia is remarkably common in the general population. GERD is a risk factor for dysphagia as well as odynophagia. Intermittent dysphagia was associated with anxiety, while progressive dysphagia was associated with depression.