Poorly managed dysphagia can result in negative health consequences including malnutrition, respiratory infection, increased hospital stay, reduced quality of life and increased mortality1-3. Therefore, the prompt identification of dysphagia by healthcare professionals (HCPs) is essential to provide appropriate dysphagia care and improved clinical outcomes. Knowledge and educational needs related to the clinical presentation and management of dysphagia by HCPs, in particular medical doctors has received little attention in the literature.
To investigate knowledge and confidence in dysphagia of final year undergraduate medical students.
A 16-question survey eliciting self-estimation of confidence and knowledge related to dysphagia and its management was distributed to final year undergraduate medical students, before and after a dysphagia-focused workshop, facilitated by Speech and Language Therapists.
Data collection is ongoing, however, preliminary results (n=20) indicate that student’s confidence levels in identifying dysphagia increased on average from 4.5 to 7.8 on a 10-point self-rating scale. Ability to identify the sequence of swallowing increased from 55% to 75% between surveys. While all 20 students could correctly define dysphagia before the workshops, accuracy in identifying signs and symptoms increased from 30% to 90%. Interestingly, identifying the role of the SLT only improved from 50% to 55%. Awareness of CUH site-specific dysphagia clinical pathways increased from 0-100% following training. All 20 medical students indicated that they would like additional dysphagia education.
Preliminary results suggest that medical students benefit from dysphagia educational workshops, with clear increases in confidence and knowledge of dysphagia and its signs and symptoms, as well as identifying appropriate clinical pathways. This can only serve to improve dysphagia care and clinical outcomes for patients under their care. However, further dysphagia training should be provided as suggested by the students.
Data collection will be complete in March 2019 with an anticipated sample size of approximately 100 participants
1 Cabré, Mateu & Serra-Prat, Mateu & Palomera, Elisabet & Almirall, Jordi & Pallares, Roman & Clavé, Pere. (2009). Prevalence and prognostic implications of dysphagia in elderly patients with pneumonia. Age and ageing. 39. 39-45.
2 Serra-Prat M, Palomera M, Gomez C, Sar-Shalom D, Saiz A, Montoya JG, Navajas M, Palomera E, Clavé P. Oropharyngeal dysphagia as a risk factor for malnutrition and lower respiratory tract infection in independently living older persons: a population-based prospective study. Age Ageing. 2012 May; 41(3):376-81.
3 Sura L, Madhavan A, Carnaby G, Crary MA. Dysphagia in the elderly: management and nutritional considerations. Clin Interv Aging. 2012;7:98.