Health Professionals’ Awareness of Signs and Symptoms of Oropharyngeal Dysphagia among Inpatients at a Level – Six Referral Hospital in Kenya

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Ndiema, Dalphine C.
Abuom, T.
Karia, M.
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Background: Oropharyngeal dysphagia is a leading risk factor for multiple health complications, including malnutrition, chest infections, and pneumonia. High dysphagia awareness among health professionals may facilitate early identification and treatment. Objectives: This study’s objectives were to (i) determine oropharyngeal dysphagia signs/symptoms awareness levels among healthcare professionals attending to adult inpatients in the acute-care facility of a Kenyan level-six referral hospital and (ii) establish whether their awareness levels vary with selected individual characteristics. Methods: We employed a descriptive, cross-sectional research design, and purposive sampling of 16 health professionals attending to inpatients in the hospital’s acute-care facility. They included five (5) nurses, seven (7) physiotherapists, one (1) speech – language therapists, one (1) oncologist, one (1) neurologist, and one (1) nutritionist. Awareness levels were measured using a 16-item questionnaire. Frequencies, percentages, and means were used to summarize participants’ scores, while the independent samples t-test and one-way ANOVA were used to compare the scores across selected individual characteristics. Results: The mean proportion of correct responses was 73.0% (SD = 17.49), indicating that on average, participants had moderate awareness. Over half (56.3%, n = 9) had either low or moderate OPD signs/symptoms awareness levels. There were significant differences in mean awareness levels due to age (F = 10.13, p = .002) and educational attainment ( F = 7.44, p = .007). Conclusions: Health professionals attending to adult inpatients in the hospital’s medical and surgical units have, on average, moderate awareness of oropharyngeal dysphagia signs and symptoms. High educational attainment is associated with increased awareness. Recommendation: The hospital’s management should implement regular training programs focusing on various OPD management aspects, particularly its signs and symptoms. Priority should be given to nurses, physiotherapists, and HPs without a post-graduate degree. For better client outcomes, and opportunity for continuous professional development
awareness, oropharyngeal dysphagia, signs/symptoms, inter-professional collaboration
Ndiema, D. C., Abuom, T., & Karia, M. Health Professionals’ Awareness of Signs and Symptoms of Oropharyngeal Dysphagia among inpatients at a Level–Six Referral Hospital in Kenya.