Date of Graduation

Spring 2008


Master of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders


Communication Sciences and Disorders

Committee Chair

Lynette Goldberg


Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) is an increasing problem for people over the age of 65, particularly for individuals with neurological impairments and muscular diseases. Several investigators have reported the adverse effects of dysphagia on these adults' quality of life (QOL). However, these studies did not have a control group. In the current study, adults over 65 with dysphagia and same-age adults without dysphagia completed a series of self-report QOL measures to assess and compare their health and nutrition and to evaluate the effect of the dysphagia on QOL. Adults also completed a Reflux Symptom Index, a three-day food intake record, and bioelectric impedance to estimate total body fat. Statistical analysis showed no significant differences between groups on perceived health and nutritional status but scores for both groups were lower than expected. Overall, measures of macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals were close to or at recommended levels with three important exceptions. Measures for fiber, calcium, and potassium were lower than recommended levels for all participants. Adults with dysphagia also reported a significantly lower QOL and more difficulty with reflux. Findings confirm the importance of incorporating an array of QOL assessment measures into dysphagia management to gain insight into patients' perspectives of their QOL as it relates to their dysphagia and actual nutritional status. Effective treatment for dysphagia also needs to include collaboration with dietitians, rather than focusing solely on an individual's ability to swallow.


dysphagia, quality of life, older adults, nutritional status, measurement

Subject Categories

Communication Sciences and Disorders


© Ashley A. Soyez

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