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Evaluating the use of oral trials for inpatient dysphagia management: a cross-sectional database study
  • Rebecca Julier,
  • Jacqueline Benfield
Rebecca Julier
Royal Derby Hospital

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Jacqueline Benfield
Royal Derby Hospital
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Abstract

Rationale, aims and objectives: Oral trials, otherwise known as swallow trials or tasters, are widely used in dysphagia management. However, to date, no studies have investigated the effectiveness of oral trials or outlined how the approach is utilised in everyday practice. This paper aims to (1) Identify the patient demographics and environments in which oral trials are used in hospital. (2) Explore clinical decision-making around the approach. Method: A cross-sectional examination of 118 patients on the dysphagia caseload of a UK-based inpatient Speech and Language Therapy team was conducted. Statistical analysis explored demographic differences between oral trials groups and the rest of the dysphagia caseload. Results: 19.5% (23/118) of individuals on the caseload were or had been on oral trials during admission. Individuals in the oral trials group were significantly more likely to have a neurological diagnosis than the full oral intake group (78.3% vs 30.5%, p<0.001). There was a lack of uniformity in oral trials recommendations and the rationale behind quantity and types of diet or fluids offered was unclear. Conclusions: This study begins to evidence the use of a dysphagia therapy not previously explored within existing literature. It highlights the wide use of oral trials within the hospital observed. Neurological diagnosis was a key predictor of belonging to the oral trials group. Further research into the effectiveness and implementation of oral trials is warranted. Keywords: dysphagia, swallowing, rehabilitation, speech and language therapy, oral trials.