A Survey of Australian Dysphagia Practice Patterns
Dysphagia assessment and rehabilitation practice is complex, and significant variability in speech-language pathology approaches has been documented internationally. The aim of this study was to evaluate swallowing-related assessment and rehabilitation practices of SLPs currently working in Australia. One hundred and fifty-four SLPs completed an online questionnaire administered via QuickSurveys from May to July 2015. Results were analysed descriptively. The majority of clinicians had accessed post-graduate training in dysphagia management and assessment (66.23%). Referral and screening were typically on an ad hoc basis (74.03%). Clinical swallow examination (CSE) and Videofluoroscopic Swallowing Study were used by 93.51 and 88.31% of respondents, respectively. CSE was the assessment that predominantly informed clinical decision-making (52.63%). Clinicians typically treated clients with dysphagia for 30 min per session (46.10%), with recommendations of repetition of exercises inconsistent across settings. Outcome measures were utilised by many (67.53%), which however were typically informal. Results indicate variable practice patterns for dysphagia assessment and management across Australia. This variability may reflect the heterogeneous nature of dysphagia and the varying needs of patients accessing different services.
KeywordsDysphagia Swallowing Survey Assessment Screening Treatment Rehabilitation
We gratefully acknowledge the gatekeepers across Australia (Speech Pathologists in Adult Rehabilitation; Speech Pathology Email Chats; NSW Speech Pathology Trache and Critical Care EBP group; WA Dysphagia Interest Group; NSW Dysphagia Interest Group) for their support in participant recruitment and the six clinicians who completed the pilot and provided valuable feedback. We also express our gratitude to the SLPs who generously took the time to participate in this project.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
The authors report no conflicts of interest. The authors alone are responsible for the content and writing of the paper.
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