Archer SK, Wellwood I, Smith CH, Newham DJ.
Int J Lang Commun Disord. 2013 May-Jun;48(3):283-96.
Dysphagia is common after stroke, leading to adverse outcome. There is a paucity of high-quality evidence for dysphagia therapy, thus making it difficult to determine the best approaches to treatment. Clinical decisions are often based on usual practice, however no formal method of monitoring practice patterns exists.
To determine speech and language therapists’ (SLTs) approaches to direct dysphagia therapy with stroke patients in the UK and Ireland.
METHODS & PROCEDURES:
A 24-item questionnaire was developed, piloted and delivered in a web-based cross-sectional survey targeting all SLTs working with stroke patients in the UK and Ireland.
OUTCOMES & RESULTS:
A total of 138 SLTs responded from a range of clinical settings and levels of experience. There was variation in the responses to all questions. Respondents reported treating patients a median of once a day, 3 days a week for 15 min. The most commonly recommended direct exercises were supervised swallow trials (recommended ‘frequently or always’ by 73%). Despite most respondents having access to an instrumental swallowing assessment, over half reported rarely or never conducting one before recommending exercises. Most (93%) did not use a protocol for systematically progressing patients’ exercises and only 37% reported using standardized outcome measures.
CONCLUSIONS & IMPLICATIONS:
This survey gives valuable insight into the direct dysphagia therapy practices of SLTs based in the UK and Ireland working in stroke. It highlights discrepancies between reported approaches and recommendations from existing evidence and clinical guidelines. The variation in responses indicates a need to develop a consensus statement and further research to guide practice.