Prevalence and symptom profiling of oropharyngeal dysphagia in a community dwelling of an elderly population: A self-reporting questionnaire survey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • External authors:
  • G. Holland
  • V. Jayasekeran
  • M. Horan
  • M. Jones


Symptomatic dysphagia is believed to be more common in the older population; however, the factors that predict age-related dysphagia are less well-understood. Here, we describe a questionnaire-based survey of swallowing dysfunction in a large, otherwise 'healthy' community dwelling older population in the UK in whom additional cognitive and depression related scores were evaluated. A postal survey using Sydney oropharyngeal dysphagia questionnaire was sent to 800 residences in the North of England that formed part of the University of Manchester Age and Cognitive Performance Longitudinal Study. This cohort was composed of older individuals (mean age 81 [range 69-98 years]) who are otherwise healthy with no history of previous neurological disease. The postal questionnaire is a validated self-report inventory measuring symptoms of oropharyngeal dysphagia covering a total of 17 domains of swallowing function. The maximal score obtainable is 1700, with a score of ≥200 arbitrarily considered to indicate swallowing difficulty. Cognitive performance and depression scores utilized the telephone interview cognitive screen and the Geriatric Depression Scale. All data were analyzed in SPSS. Of the 800 questionnaires sent out, 637 where returned. Three were later discarded as unusable after follow-up telephone interviews of incomplete forms, giving a completed response rate of 79%. Females made up 77% of the total respondents. Of the population, 11.4% reported symptoms indicative of significant dysphagia. Unsurprisingly, dysphagia severity was directly correlated with subject age (r= 0.11, P= 0.007). When cognitive factors were taken into account, there was no correlation between memory, recall, and mental performance and dysphagia; however, depression was strongly and independently associated (P= 0.002) with dysphagia symptoms. Dysphagia symptoms are prevalent in older people, affecting nearly one in nine people who are otherwise living independently in the community. While cognitive factors such as memory recall do not seem to influence dysphagia symptoms, depression is associated with dysphagia, suggesting a potential interaction. This could relate to associations with quality of life or psychological factors. © 2011 Copyright the Authors. Journal compilation © 2011, Wiley Periodicals, Inc. and the International Society for Diseases of the Esophagus.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)476-480
Number of pages4
JournalDiseases of the Esophagus
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2011