Intensive care professionals' perspectives on dysphagia management: A focus group study

Anne Højager Nielsen*, Gudrun Kaldan, Birthe Husted Nielsen, Gitte Juhl Kristensen, Louise Shiv, Ingrid Egerod

*Corresponding author for this work
3 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Intensive care unit (ICU)-acquired dysphagia has severe consequences for patients including increased morbidity and mortality. Standard operating procedures, however, including systematic evaluation of swallowing function and access to specialised assessment and training may be limited. Dysphagia management relies on multiprofessional collaboration, but practice is variable and nonstandardised.

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to explore and compare nurses', physicians', and occupational therapists' perceptions of dysphagia management in the ICU.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Six focus group interviews with 33 participants (23 nurses, four physicians, and six occupational therapists) were conducted and analysed using the framework method with a matrix developed from the first interview. Content from the interviews was plotted into the matrix, condensed, and refined.

FINDINGS: Clinical dysphagia management depended on recognising signs of dysphagia in patients at risk. Assessment, therapeutic methods, and care differed among professional groups according to knowledge and roles. Interprofessional collaboration and responsibility for dysphagia management across the care continuum was determined by availability of resources, practical skills, knowledge, and formal decision-making competence and judged effective when based on mutual respect and recognition of healthcare professionals' different perspectives.

CONCLUSION: Systematic interprofessional collaboration in ICU dysphagia management requires working towards a common goal of preventing aspiration and rehabilitating the patients' ability to swallow safely. This is based on dysphagia assessment, using appropriate therapeutic interventions, sharing knowledge, and improving skills among professional groups.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAustralian critical care : official journal of the Confederation of Australian Critical Care Nurses
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)528-535
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Deglutition
  • Deglutition disorders
  • Dysphagia
  • Intensive care
  • Interprofessional care


Dive into the research topics of 'Intensive care professionals' perspectives on dysphagia management: A focus group study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this