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J Nurs Res. 2012 Dec;20(4):272-80. doi: 10.1097/jnr.0b013e31827364ec.

Nonimaging clinical assessment of impaired swallowing in community-dwelling older adults in Taiwan.

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Department of Nursing, School of Nursing, National Taipei University of Nursing and Health Sciences.



Impaired swallowing is common in elderly patients as well as those with neurological disorders and degenerative diseases. Convenient and accurate assessments should be available to community-dwelling older adults to diagnose and provide early management and care of swallowing difficulties, an important factor of influence on elderly life quality.


This study used convenient nonimaging methods to assess swallowing functions in community-dwelling older adults and estimated the prevalence of swallowing difficulties.


The study adopted a survey method and recruited 216 community-dwelling older adults over 65 years old in northern Taiwan. Researchers used tools including a swallowing test, questionnaire, water test, peripheral arterial pulse oximeter, and laryngeal S-EMG to assess participant swallowing functions and the prevalence of impaired swallowing.


We found a 9.5% prevalence of impaired swallowing based on swallow questionnaire and water test results. Age correlated negatively with swallowing speed. A one-way ANOVA showed a significant difference in swallowing speed among the four age groups (F = 6.478, p < .00). A post hoc Scheffe comparison showed significant differences in swallowing time between the 60- to 69- and 70- to 79-year-old groups and 60- to 69- and 80- to 89-year-old groups. Multiple regression of impaired swallowing on various independent variables showed a significant standardized coefficient of 0.163 for age (t = 2.328, p = .021). Logistic regression showed a significant Wals test value for age (p = .007). The Kappa value was 0.307 for agreement analysis between impaired swallowing and SaO(2) value reduction of more than 2%.


Swallowing function deteriorates with age. Results of this study provide an assessment of the prevalence of impaired swallowing in community-dwelling older adults in Taiwan. Results can help guide clinical nurses to enhance their objective assessment of impaired swallowing to improve patient quality of life.

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