Self-Reported Dysphagia and Its Correlates Within a Prevalent Population of People with Parkinson’s Disease

Richard W. Walker, Janet R. Dunn and William K. Gray

Dysphagia, Volume 26, Number 1 (2011), 92-96, DOI: 10.1007/s00455-010-9317

Abstract

Many people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) experience dysphagia; however, the prevalence of dysphagia in people with PD is unknown. We studied a prevalent population of PD cases. All of those who consented to participate were assessed for anxiety, depression, cognitive function, and quality of life using standard rating scales. Anyone who answered “yes” to either one of the two questions: Do you have difficulty swallowing food/liquid or tablets? and Do you cough after eating/drinking? was considered to have dysphagia. Question 7 of the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) was also used to identify dysphagia. Of 106 prevalent PD cases, 75 (38 males) patients consented to examination and assessment. The prevalence of dysphagia was 32.0% (n = 24; 11 males). Using the response to UPDRS Question 7 as an indicator of the impact of swallowing problems on the patient, there were significant correlations with cognitive function, anxiety, depression, quality of life, and UPDRS-reported gait disturbance, postural instability and problems with falling. There was no correlation with disease duration, age, or gender. Almost one third of the participants reported dysphagia. There was a strong correlation between dysphagia and gross motor skills; patients reporting such problems should be screened for swallowing problems.

Keywords  Parkinson’s disease – Swallowing problems – Dysphagia – Swallowing – Swallowing disorders

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