Original Study| Volume 19, ISSUE 2, P141-147.e2, February 2018

Dysphagia in Nursing Homes—Results From the NutritionDay Project

Published:October 10, 2017DOI:



      Dysphagia is a major healthcare problem as it increases the risk of malnutrition, dehydration, aspiration pneumonia, and death. The aims of this analysis of data from nursing homes (NHs) worldwide were to examine prevalence rates of dysphagia, to identify characteristics of residents with dysphagia, and to describe which type of nutrition residents with dysphagia receive.


      One-day cross-sectional study, repeated in yearly intervals since 2007.


      926 NH units from 19 countries.


      NH residents participating in the nutritionDay between 2007 and 2014, aged 65 years or older, from Europe and North America, and with available information on dysphagia.


      Data on resident and unit level were collected on nutritionDay by local nursing staff using standardized questionnaires. Residents' nutritional status, nutritional intake, general residents’ characteristics, and unit characteristics were of interest as potential predictors of dysphagia (no vs yes). Univariable generalized estimating equations were performed for all variables, and significant predictors (P < .01) included in a multivariable analysis. Nutritional strategies (type of diet, use of oral nutritional supplements, tube feeding, and parenteral nutrition) are described for residents with and without dysphagia.


      Dysphagia was reported in 13.4% of the 23,549 residents included, with great variation in the prevalence rates between participating countries. Twelve variables of 23 remained in the multivariable model [area under the receiver operating curve = 0.898; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.892–0.904; P < .001]. Residents who were not able to eat lunch orally on nutritionDay were 14.90 [odds ratio (OR); 95% CI 9.61–23.11] times more likely to have dysphagia compared with residents who ate everything. ORs of dysphagia were higher for residents with chewing problems (OR 10.48; 95% CI 8.98–12.23), immobile (OR 5.10, 95% CI 4.25–6.11) and partially mobile residents (OR 1.94; 95% CI 1.64–2.29) compared to mobile residents, and residents with severe cognitive impairment (OR 1.99; 95% CI 1.64–2.42). Poor nutritional status, digestive diseases, neurologic diseases, dehydration, and use of antibiotics were also related to a higher risk of dysphagia. The most common nutritional strategy for residents with dysphagia was providing texture-modified diet (42.5%) followed by normal diet (28.2%). One-quarter of residents with dysphagia received oral nutritional supplements additionally, 7.4% of residents with dysphagia received tube feeding exclusively, and 8.0% in combination with oral nutrition.


      This analysis of NHs participating in the nutritionDay provides important insight into the current awareness of dysphagia, associated factors, and nutritional strategies. Residents who were unable to eat orally, malnourished, or dehydrated suffered more often from dysphagia, which substantiates the challenges of providing safe and adequate nutrition for residents with dysphagia. Adequacy and efficiency of different nutritional strategies need to be clarified in future studies.


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