The Dysphagia Handicap Index: Development and Validation

Alice K. Silbergleit, Lonni Schultz, Barbara H. Jacobson, Tausha Beardsley and Alex F. Johnson

Dysphagia, Volume 27, Number 1 (2012), 46-52, DOI: 10.1007/s00455-011-9336-2


Quality-of-life indicators for dysphagia provide invaluable information to the treating clinician regarding the success or failure of swallowing therapy. The purpose of this study was to develop a clinically efficient, statistically robust patient-reported outcomes tool that measures the handicapping effect of dysphagia on emotional, functional, and physical aspects of individual’s lives. 60 statements describing the handicapping effect of dysphagia were collected from patient reports and divided into subscales of physical, emotional, and functional problems. The statements were presented to 77 individuals with dysphagia. Respondents replied never, sometimes, or always to each statement and rated their self-perceived dysphagia severity on a 7-point equal-appearing interval scale. Cronbach’s α was performed to assess the internal consistency validation of the items within the questionnaire. The final questionnaire was reduced to 25 items and administered to 214 individuals with dysphagia and 74 controls. Test–retest was performed on 63 individuals with dysphagia. Cronbach’s α for the initial and final versions was strong at r = 0.96 and r = 0.94, respectively. Significant differences occurred between the dysphagia and control groups. Test–retest reliability was strong. We present a new, easy-to-complete, statistically robust, patient-reported outcomes measure for assessing the handicapping effect of dysphagia.

Keywords  Dysphagia – Handicap – Quality of life – Patient-reported outcomes – Deglutition – Deglutition disorders



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