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Dysphagia. 2001 Spring;16(2):123-7.

The effect of compliance on clinical outcomes for patients with dysphagia on videofluoroscopy.

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Princess Margaret Hospital, Health Care of the Elderly, Christchurch, New Zealand.


This study investigates clinical outcomes and the degree of compliance in patients who received advice on dysphagia management and the effect of the level of compliance on the incidence of chest infections and aspiration pneumonia, cause of death, and hospital readmission. We performed a retrospective cohort study of 140 patients who had videofluoroscopic studies at Princess Margaret Hospital, Christchurch, New Zealand, from 1 January 1996 to 30 June 1997. The degree to which recommendations on dysphagia management were followed was correlated with the incidence of chest infections, aspiration pneumonia, and readmissions to the hospital. Cause of death, including the contribution of aspiration pneumonia, was assessed by review of medical records and death certificates. Information was available for 89% of the cohort. Twenty-one percent of the survivors never complied with the advice given. Noncompliant subjects were younger (p < 0.05) and more likely to be living at home rather than receiving institutional care (p = 0.05). Noncompliers had more hospital admissions because of chest infections or aspiration pneumonia (22% vs. 1.5%; p < 0.001). Home-dwelling noncompliant subjects received more courses of antibiotics (p < 0.02), but there was no difference in the number of chest infections. Fifty-four people died during the study period. Aspiration pneumonia was recorded as a definite or probable cause of death in 26 (52%) of the 50 subjects for whom reliable information was available and in 6 of 7 subjects who made a deliberate and documented decision not to comply. We conclude that noncompliance with recommendations about dysphagia management is associated with adverse outcomes. There was a high mortality rate and aspiration pneumonia was a common cause of death.

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