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Dysphagia. 1991;6(4):193-9.

Dysphagia, an unrecognized handicap.

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National Institute for Psychosocial Factors and Health, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.


The aim of this study was to examine whether esophageal dysphagia can be described as a handicap and to grade the severity of handicap as the discrepancy between the subject's own eating goals and his or her eating disability. The severity of the disability-goal-handicap (DGH) regarding dysphagia was expressed on a scale ranging from 0 to 48 points. Nineteen patients with dysphagia of differing causes were selected from a patient register at a laboratory for diagnostic procedures of the esophagus. The severity of handicap for the 19 patients was, on average, 33 points (range, 20-44). The DGH score correlated significantly with the patients' own evaluation of the severity of their dysphagia (p = 0.008). The DGH scores did not differ markedly based on patient's sex, age, or cause of dysphagia. Patients who were operated upon because of dysphagia had significantly more points on the DGH scale prior to operation than patients who were not (p = 0.001). Denial of dysphagia (N = 18), concealment of dysphagia (N = 18), and lack of confirmation by the patient's physician (N = 15) were common but did not influence the severity of handicap as assessed by the DGH scale. It was shown that dysphagia affects all aspects of life as expressed by reduction in self-esteem (N = 13), security (N = 16), work capacity (N = 8), exercise (N = 7), and leisure time (N = 6). Esophageal dysphagia may therefore be regarded as a handicap when assessed using the DGH code described in this study.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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