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J Adv Nurs. 2010 Jan;66(1):82-91. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2009.05145.x. Epub 2009 Nov 24.

Patients with dysphagia: experiences of taking medication.

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Tissue Viability Nurse Dermatology Clinic, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Kings Lynn, Norfolk, UK.



This paper is a report of a study exploring the experiences of taking medication for older people with dysphagia.


Dysphagia is a common problem, especially amongst older people, and affects ingestion of food, fluids and medicines. With the number of elders in the population increasing, and currently accounting for one-third of prescribing volume in the United Kingdom, dysphagia is becoming a major problem in terms of medicine administration and therapy.


In 2007, we carried out interviews with 11 patients in one county of England who had different degrees of dysphagia. The interview transcriptions were analysed using Colaizzi's technique.


Six inter-related themes were identified from the data: (a) the wide spectrum and variability of dysphagia; (b) medication formulation; (c) information exchange between patients and healthcare professionals; (d) factors affecting medication adherence; (e) strategies used to improve swallowing; (f) the central function of swallowing as eating and drinking.


It is vital to ensure that each patient has an individualized medication regimen, and for patients with dysphagia the formulation of the medicine is as important as the active ingredients.

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