Aim: This paper is a report of a study exploring the experiences of taking medication for older people with dysphagia.
Background: Dysphagia is a common problem, especially amongst older people, and affects ingestion of food, fluids and medicines. With the number of elders in the population increasing, and currently accounting for one-third of prescribing volume in the United Kingdom, dysphagia is becoming a major problem in terms of medicine administration and therapy.
Method: In 2007, we carried out interviews with 11 patients in one county of England who had different degrees of dysphagia. The interview transcriptions were analysed using Colaizzi's technique.
Results: Six inter-related themes were identified from the data: (a) the wide spectrum and variability of dysphagia; (b) medication formulation; (c) information exchange between patients and healthcare professionals; (d) factors affecting medication adherence; (e) strategies used to improve swallowing; (f) the central function of swallowing as eating and drinking.
Conclusion: It is vital to ensure that each patient has an individualized medication regimen, and for patients with dysphagia the formulation of the medicine is as important as the active ingredients.