Intended for healthcare professionals



BMJ 2006; 333 doi: (Published 14 December 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:1278

A qualitative study of people with Parkinson's disease draws attention to the common symptom of dysphagia. Although the problem is well known, its impact is under appreciated by doctors. Eating is a highly social activity and difficulty in chewing, swallowing, or cutting up food on a plate diminishes a person's enjoyment of life, limits their social activities, and increases demands on their family long before it impinges on their nutritional requirements (Age and Ageing 2006;35:614–8 doi:10.1093/ageing/afl105).

Dysphagia is common after stroke too. And it's associated with increased risk of aspiration, pneumonia, and higher mortality. Unfortunately, a study shows that neither bedside assessment nor measurement of desaturation by pulse oximetry during and after swallowing are sensitive enough to detect its presence reliably (Stroke 2006;37:2984-8 doi 10.1161/01.STR.0000248758.32627.3b).

Questionnaires are widely used in medical research. A lot of effort goes into devising and validating them so it's a waste if they're not made available to others. A survey of three major medical journals over a period of three and a half years found nearly a hundred research papers where new questionnaires were part of the methodology. Yet in only seven were these questionnaires printed or obtainable …

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