A survey of public awareness of dysphagia

Int J Speech Lang Pathol. 2021 Dec;23(6):614-621. doi: 10.1080/17549507.2021.1912179. Epub 2021 May 2.


Objectives: Purpose: Dysphagia affects a wide cross-section of society. Reports of stigma and missed diagnoses suggest limited public awareness of this prevalent condition, exacerbating the hidden disability stemming from this impairment. This study explored the public awareness of dysphagia among people both with and without occupational ties to healthcare to assess the level of awareness and identify topics where public knowledge may be deficient.

Methods: Method: An online purpose-built survey was administered to determine self-assessed awareness of dysphagia, and researcher-assessed understanding of the causes, symptoms, assessment and treatment of swallowing disorders. Survey answers (n = 374) were grouped by healthcare (n = 105) and non-healthcare (n = 269) respondents. Responses were analysed using both qualitative and quantitative methods.

Results: Result: Self-assessed respondent awareness was low among 71% of non-healthcare and 29% of healthcare respondents, corroborating the limited demonstrated knowledge of the causes, symptoms, assessment and treatment of dysphagia. Self-assessed and researcher-assessed awareness was more limited among non-healthcare respondents.

Conclusions: Conclusion: Survey results confirm limited public knowledge of dysphagia and demonstrate the need for greater public awareness of this largely invisible disorder.

Keywords: deglutition disorder; dysphagia; public awareness; surveys and questionnaires; swallowing.

MeSH terms

  • Deglutition Disorders* / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Social Stigma
  • Surveys and Questionnaires